With changing times, and the current pandemic scenario, business needs change and so do solutions. These changes can have a cascading effect on business applications, making agility, and current functionality equally important. In order to meet those needs, finding the right approach to innovation and the right architecture and platform to support it has become indispensable.
Before you begin evaluating a new Enterprise Resource Planning solution, it’s important to understand how the process and platforms have changed. The ERP solutions on the market today have more functions and flexibility than ever, including industry-specific features. The robust functionality and due diligence sure need to be confirmed and performed as per industry-specific features. With an all-inclusive user experience powered with reporting and analytics and integration capabilities, ERP solutions today have grown to be more dynamic and require companies to widen their horizons.
Read on to explore some simple tips on what to look for in a new ERP system.
USER EXPERIENCE IS KEY
Today at least 40% of employees are regular ERP users and more will have access through self-service functions such as purchase requisitions, paid time-off or expense reimbursement requests. So, using easy and intuitive consumer technology is a natural choice today.
THE USER INTERFACE (UI)
Most vendors go all out promoting their “pretty software,” but beauty as they rightly say, lies in the eyes of the beholder. Look for a user interface that looks familiar and one that mimics your interaction with your favorite consumer app. It should enable you to customize it to suit your needs and preferences as also your particular role in the organization.
THE DIGITAL ASSISTANT
Solution providers have introduced digital assistants, changing the way users interact with them. Virtual assistants understand what you are saying and even give an answer. So, while you regularly “speak” to your smartphones and TVs, talking to your ERP is the way forward, making business processes easy and smart.
ROBOTIC PROCESS AUTOMATION (RPA)
Look for automation. Sometimes the best user interface is all just a packaged no user interface. Can you automate your bank reconciliation process, take a picture of a receipt and have it automatically attached to your expense report? Can you capture an RFID tag with a reader, and have it initiate an inventory transaction? Can the software tell the difference between a receipt for parking and lunch? Can you easily import customer purchase orders transmitted electronically directly into your ERP? A good ERP solution should easily be able to perform these functions in sync with your requirements.
EXPECT A BETTER FIT AND MORE FUNCTIONALITY
A “one size fits all” solution is not the most effective approach to meeting the needs of different types of businesses. But it is still possible to get ‘last mile’ functionality today with a strong platform and microservices to make ERP more ‘extensible’. In the context of ERP, to make it easier for the vendor to add specialized features and functions to a robust code base, with minimal disruption. This is really the secret sauce behind any solution provider’s ability to deliver “last mile” functionality, not just for major industries like manufacturing, or even verticals like food and beverage, but also micro-verticals like dairy, beverage, bakeries, prepared foods, and meat, etc.
The more pertinent question here is, “Can you afford not to run a modern, technology-enabled ERP?” Well, technology comes with some up-front costs associated with a new implementation, but savings in productivity and efficiency can help cover the short-term costs. Cloud-based ERP solution’s subscription-based pricing and solutions that are delivered as Software as a Service (SaaS) provide more options, eliminating the requirement of hefty capital investments. It eliminates hardware maintenance and repair costs, along with the cost of obsolescence. You also need to look beyond up-front costs and look at the recurring costs in order to determine the total cost of ownership. A purchase of a license up-front does not mean you won’t have recurring maintenance costs.
Apart from your ERP, if any other applications create transactions or touch the assets managed by your ERP, the data must be synchronized, and integrations must be made. Component-based architectures and standardized data models can simplify integration between applications, making the platform on which any new ERP is built of utmost importance.
Check out our customized NetSuite Integration Products to know more.
BUILT-IN REPORTING & ANALYTICS
Tailored reports and inquiries, without invasive code changes, is a pre-requisite for any application. Look for one that does not require a lot of technical (programming) skills or expert knowledge of how the data is stored.
In order to dive deep into reports and gain useful insights, you need robust analytics. Most analytical tools today have ‘visualization’ capabilities, allowing you to present the data, not just in tabular format, but with more visually intuitive charts and graphs. In building these analytical applications, some solution providers are adding powerful new features, like the ability to connect from different data sources, adding ‘data discovery’ mechanisms that will enable data views from different angles. Also, look for predictive and cognitive analytical elements to solutions.
Conventional ERP solutions are famed for being inflexible, hard to install, implement, and use. Eventually, no business wants to be a part of the long list of failed implementations costing a fortune. In view of this, implementing ERP requires a unique skill set than just running a business. So, secure top management commitment and build a plan. Seek guidance and assistance from ERP experts that can help you identify goals, set a realistic schedule and budget, and keep your business on track.
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