Where analysis is not paralysis

TODAY, when it comes to ERP systems, businesses are looking for scalable solutions that are able to grow with the company. 

The freedom to grow a solution and customise it to meet specific business needs is critical but at the same time manufacturers are looking to solve several issues, including: 

 Improved ability to operate and trade quickly and easily across multiple markets and geographies while maintaining the same degree of accuracy and security that businesses have come to expect. Strong business process management software like integrated ERP and CRM at the backbone of any organisation will enable them to do this. 

Streamlined processes – for example, account management, billing and packing to save time and reduce opportunity for human error. 

Interoperable systems to ensure they have a single view of every customer across the business regardless of where they are – this points to the need for improved mobility. 

Adherence with regulatory compliance standards for reporting and record keeping – all of which are imposing increasing pressure on businesses. 

 Improved data to deliver productivity and efficiency increases across the business – a critical component in the highly competitive supply chain market. 

While every business is different, an ERP gap analysis checklist can help you identify key issues your business may face, and determine whether the systems and technology in place have the capabilities to meet your current and future needs.   

Consider the checklist below:

  • Do you need to comply with government regulations? 
  • Does your existing technology integrate the capabilities necessary to improve the organisation’s regulatory compliance, including the need for: lot traceability; audit trails; digital electronic signatures; quality control; document signatures and security and workflow controls and transparency? 
  • Do you need to streamline your operations to improve productivity and profitability? 
  • By automating business processes, which in turn improves accuracy of information and accelerates data flow, an ERP system can help your company streamline day-to-day tasks and free up staff to focus on more complex issues that require more personalised attention.  
  • As a result you can improve productivity and dramatically reduce operating and overhead costs.  

Your ERP should offer benefits that include: 

  • A fully integrated set of applications: a system that integrates capabilities from front-end customer-relationship management to back-end financial analytics and business intelligence enabling you to focus on decision making and doing business rather than focusing on the IT infrastructure required to keep disparate applications running and communicating.  
  • A common repository – this is where all the data required by all of your applications and processes is kept giving your employees access to the information they need when they need it making for greater efficiency.  
  • Process orientation – this enables processes to be evolved naturally over time rather than orientated to discrete tasks. 

Do you need to enhance your decision-making capabilities? 

Implementing ERP software that integrates all your information and processes into one coherent environment is a first and major step towards improved decision making.  

Does your current ERP offer critical BI capabilities including integrated BI, integrated CRM, enhanced visibility, easy-to-use, reporting, and security? 

Do you need to collaborate with partners? 

As market conditions fluctuate and competitive pressures increase, you may need to team with multiple geographic partners and rely on contract manufacturing and third-party logistics providers.  

Do your existing IT systems support collaboration with partners?  

Do they have capabilities that include: a web-native platform, automated workflows, Web 2.0 capabilities and security? 

Do your processes and systems adapt and scale with your business? 

Are your technology solutions flexible?  

Are they scalable so they support your business today, but can accommodate your needs and requirements in the future?  

They should have configurable workflows, multi-site support and customisation features.  

Are you planning to grow your business globally? 

If you plan to operate your business outside Australia, will your systems support international operations including: global currencies, multiple languages and global regulatory requirements? 

Looking to the future, as businesses continue to choose between on-premise and cloud delivery models when it comes to business software purchasing, you can expect to see continued developments in ERP solutions to suit each preference, providing customers with greater freedom of choice. 

[Mike Lorge is MD of Sage Business Solutions.] 


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