Make Decisions More Effectively with the best ERP Software
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Make Decisions More Effectively with the best ERP Software

2/08/2016

Who is the greatest athlete of all time? Who has been our most influential prime minister? Where should I go to get the best steak in the city? These are all subjective questions that everyone will have their own opinion on, due to of a number of factors that are specific to them. 

It is dangerous to try and prescribe a 'best' anything, so when people question what the best ERP software system is, the answer is inevitably tied to the company’s objectives as each element of functionality and cost will deliver value to each organisation differently.

However, organisational specifics aside, one pertinent element that should rate highly in most company’s ERP evaluation criteria is the software system’s capacity to aid improvements in decision making. 

As we discussed last week, businesses today have a need for speed, with timely access to accurate data being a critical component in making effective decisions. The best ERP software systems improve decision making

When time waits for no one, it just isn’t suitable to go and make yourself a cup of coffee and spend the afternoon wading through Excel® spreadsheets until you go blue in the face from VLOOKUPs and pivot tables. The speed of business today is too fast for that to be a viable option anymore. 

Instead, effective ERP software can provide you with data in a contextual, easy-to-understand format, so that you save time, reduce the risk of inaccuracy in your own calculations, and obtain insights that you otherwise may not have been able to establish.

Data driven decision making

PwC’s Global Data and Analytics Survey 2016 found that 61% of executives don’t rate their businesses as being highly data-driven. They recognise that they could rely less on intuition in their decision making and instead place a greater focus on data analysis.

Historically, business leaders have been recognised for their capacity to make effective decisions on intuition alone. However, if you measure your own leadership ability by this same capacity, then you may be distracting yourself from the opportunity to augment this ability with technology which serves data driven insights.

Instinct still plays an important role in decision making, yet the key for businesses moving forward will be to empower experienced business leaders with the tools for a much more methodical decision making process to take place.

The PwC Gut & gigabytes report states that the challenge for companies is to effectively integrate management experience and intuition with a capacity to use data to test potential scenarios before making decisions. 

The report also highlights that businesses do not necessarily need to rely solely on big data to gather insights, as analysing existing databases can also prove valuable.

This brings me to an important point. You may have all the data in the world, but if it is sitting in spreadsheets, then it is unlikely you will have the time to adequately analyse and interpret it in a way that allows you to make an informed decision. Business today is moving too fast for that to be possible.

2015 research, commissioned by Epicor Software and conducted by Redshift Research Ltd. found that one in three companies identify a key cause of decision-making mistakes is the result of not having access to internal data quickly enough. Furthermore, the survey also found that over a third of CFOs (37%) identify that the biggest cause for mistakes was inaccurate data.

Make decisions more effectively with the best ERP softwareOne way businesses can improve data accuracy is through mobile solutions which allow users to effectively record data at times when they are away from their workstation. For example, a person in a store with a tablet could update stock on hand figures while in the warehouse, rather than relying on hand written notes which is either updated at a later point in time, or handed to someone else to update. In both these manual scenarios the room for human error is far greater than the mobile alternative. 

Remove complexity in your ERP software 

Business today has the potential to be enormously complex, so if your ERP software is not serving to help your business reduce its complexity, then it is not the platform that will take you forward.

The objective for companies should be to provide decision makers with real-time data in a format that matches their preferences and requirements. This could take the form of different alerts, role-based dashboards, and screen views that arrange information by importance. 

Furthermore, all the data should be stored in a central integrated repository, with users accessing it from the device that best allows them to be productive, wherever they may be working from. 

There is little doubt that success in the future will stem from a company’s ability to have a robust ERP system that serves up accurate, timely, and valuable insights which supports effective leaders to make good decisions. The question is whether your business will identify and adopt the best ERP software for its requirements.

Posted by: Vince Randall, Regional Vice President, Epicor Software ANZ

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