Connecting all the dots with ERP

There are a lot of Enterprise Resource Planning software options around at the moment. Matt McDonald looks at one that is intended to bring the power of ERP to more people within your organisation.

Faced with increasing competition, manufacturers need to maintain a view of their entire operations.

According to Peter Dickinson (pictured) CEO of Greentree International, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software offers them such an overview.

“It enables them to basically connect all the dots,” Dickinson told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“ERP if it’s working well is connecting all your people and processes – your customers, your suppliers, your production, your financial management, your business intelligence reporting, your people resource management, HR, payroll.”

“Particularly when you’re under pressure you have the ability to far more easily distil and look at where the problems and opportunities are.”

Greentree recently launched Greentree4, a next-generation fully integrated ERP software platform which provides a browser-based user experience.

Dickson explained how Greentree4 came about. For him, the arrival of the multiple platforms of today – mobile, desktop, ipad, etc – was the latest in a series of disruptive technologies.

He said this latest wave has changed things, just as the introduction of the PC and then the internet changed things.

“Three to four years ago we saw this big wave of different disruptive technologies coming at us and we basically decided that there was an opportunity to leverage the business software engine – some people call it ERP business software – in a different way,” said Dickson.

“And effectively the difference is being able to take the technology to a much wider audience; to connect more and more of the organisation to the powerful core engine.

“That’s the mantra of Greentree 4 – to deliver the power of what’s inherent in the Greentree system in the organisation to a much wider audience – whether that be sales service, manufacturing factory floor, financial team…”

Features of Greentree4

Build with this world view in mind, Greentree4 delivers a number of new features.

Firstly, it is configurable. It allows the configuration and design of screens and forms to be customised at an organisational, group or individual level.

Secondly, it is fully mobile. Users can work anywhere on whatever device they wish.

They can search anywhere with Greentree4’s global Enterprise Search, a browser-based search engine that is also fully configurable. They can use the software any time, day or night; and they can do so with Greentree Secure’s 24-hour rapid hot-switch data and operational recovery options.

And thirdly, Greentree4 includes Greentree4Sales, a pre-configured environment that delivers ERP software capability to sales teams and connects the revenue engine with the business engine.

So with this new software salespeople can take advantage of data other departments already have access to. They can logon at work at their desks or on the road, on their tablets or Smart Phones.

Greentree4 and manufacturers

Dickinson explained that the software includes features that are ideal for manufacturers. The job cost project costing system, for example, enables job oriented manufacturers to pinpoint where they’re making or losing money.

“It’s creating the discipline where effectively you’re putting all your true costs against individual manufacturing runs,” he said.

In addition, he said, the business process management suite allows businesses to not only document processes but to also fully automate them.

He said it is ideal for SME companies who, unlike some large enterprises, don’t want to “get a team of business process consultants to come in and map every single process…and try and re-engineer the entire world!”

To illustrate the benefits of the suite, Dickinson related the example of a company which produced several products for several customers.

“But effectively their profitability was driven by two product lines to three customers,” he said.

So the company’s success or otherwise depended on delivering those two products to those three customers on time.

The business process management suite allowed them to run rules and alerts to make sure nothing slipped behind and everything was done on time with those two products.

Australian manufacturers face many challenges. High costs, ageing infrastructure, and compliance requirements are part of an extensive list.

But, as Dickinson sees it, there is one challenge that trumps all others.

“[Manufacturers] may have ageing plant or cost structures they’re trying to deal with, but I would suggest their biggest challenge is still out the front end of the business because everybody’s market has got so much more competitive,” he said.

“Out at the front end – at the sales and service side – you have to be slicker than ever before.”

The new product, he reiterated, allows sales teams and service teams to become more engaged. In these hard times, that may just be enough to keep struggling manufacturers afloat.