If the last three years taught business leaders anything, it was the importance of agility and resilience. While organisations have largely adapted and addressed the effects of the pandemic, change is constant and there’s a need to keep pace with emerging economic and social circumstances. Therefore, operations must be continually reviewed and reinvented to fit in with the evolving business landscape.
For many, they are turning to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to bring company data and applications together, thus taking a fresh approach to core business processes and day-to-day tasks. While ERP is likely to have an immediate effect for these organisations, this is a decision that will impact their trajectory for years to come in terms of operational flexibility and resilience.
As companies manage the transition to next-generation ERP with digital solutions and cloud features, they must mitigate risks by first addressing their most urgent business challenges and then preparing for a full transformation using ERP. However, getting this strategy right has the potential to drive business success and growth – both today and in the future – by automating processes, increasing efficiency, streamlining operations, enhancing visibility, and supporting service delivery.
One of the biggest issues relates to the disruption of supply chains, particularly for SMBs working with fine margins. Factories and warehouses are operating with smaller workforces and abiding by strict safety procedures. With workers spread thin, it’s vital that managers have total visibility and access to necessary data in order to successfully manage their supply chains and keep business operations continuing as normally as possible. ERP means more access to such necessary information, thus preventing the supply chain from becoming a bottleneck for the business.
Another obstacle for organisations is a lack of integration between mobile capabilities and the ERP system. This can result in responsibilities being neglected altogether, but it can be easily addressed given that the technology exists to carry out almost any task remotely on a mobile device. Committing to mobile allows companies to get ahead of the competition and leverage valuable, real-time data – including customer order status, inventory levels and quotes.
If staff continue to work in a hybrid way, which is likely, organisations will increasingly see sections of their site underutilised. When this occurs, a long-term trend will naturally be to downsize on floor space and make additional savings on rent. Cloud-based servers represent a fantastic opportunity to capitalise on this tendency to downsize by shifting focus online. Traditionally, businesses have had three primary concerns about implementing cloud technology: privacy, interoperability and cost.
Decision-makers want to be sure that sensitive data is secure, that major systems on which their business relies can be linked together, and that it will be cost-effective. A report by Gartner has suggested that cloud environments are expected to experience 60% fewer security incidents than traditional data centres. Therefore, while security is always of paramount concern, it seems the cloud is winning out over on-site solutions.
Interlinked with this is the capability to take advantage of real-time data analytics, which allows staff at all levels of an organisation to make quick and evidence-based decisions from anywhere in the world. This means that orders and stock levels can be monitored and addressed more quickly and accurately than by antiquated systems that are operated on the factory floor.
By giving organisations real-time transparency with and visibility of sales, inventory, production and financials, ERP equips businesses with powerful insights that enable more agile decisions and improve resilience. Furthermore, robust e-commerce capabilities help companies better engage with online customers before and after a sale, and a lean ERP core and “cloud-first” approach also increases deployment speed.
While adopting ERP certainly requires change, it’s a change that will help organisations to solve their business challenges and future-proof operations – across every area of the company, from finance to factory management. In an age where competition and resilience are key, companies cannot afford to be static. They must adapt and leverage technology like ERP. But in turn, they can thrive.
By Brendan Geraghty, Business Solutions Practice Director, Storm Technology