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Achieving Effective Collaboration through Social ERP Software

To grow in a competitive market, manufacturers and distributors should do whatever they can to encourage and facilitate collaboration between their stakeholders. One particular way they can achieve this is through their ERP software.

Since the beginning of time humans have been collaborating. The simple concept of working together to achieve an outcome exists all around us, every day. The real challenge isn't to collaborate, but to do so in a way that generates great results.

To grow in a competitive market, manufacturers and distributors should do whatever they can to encourage and facilitate collaboration between their stakeholders. One particular way they can achieve this is through their ERP software. 

Given the nature of this discussion, it is important to step back from a traditional view of ERP software. Times are changing and it is important to consider how ERP platforms can allow businesses to generate greater value from the knowledgebase that exists in the minds of their staff and in the countless number of emails and spreadsheets on their network.

Until ERP software is viewed as more than a system capable of transactional processes, it can be difficult to truly see the opportunity to make ERP software more intuitive and flexible. This is why it is important that businesses become familiar with the concept of social ERP. 

Social collaboration

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have taught us concepts that can have a valuable application in the world of ERP solutions. For example, users of these social media platforms will be familiar with following influencers  and thought leaderscommenting on postsliking and sharing content. This inherent understanding paves the way for the manufacturing and distribution industry to adopt these same philosophies inside an ERP system, where commenting on tasks relative to business operations and following customers and products become the way in which we collaborate. 

When we stop and consider the doors this opens for streamlined communications and the collection of valuable insights, both internally and externally, we can see that this truly is the way forward. Particularly for your younger customers and employees.

In a PwC report, Millennials in the Workplace, they found that this generation, who grew up with social media, have an expectation that the technology they use in their personal lives will also drive innovation and communication in their jobs. The millennial generation was born between 1980 and 2000, so it is likely you already have key staff and clients that are part of this generation. 

It is clear that retaining an outdated, rigid view of ERP software will restrict businesses from reaching their full potential. An Aberdeen Group report identifies that businesses with social ERP functionality are 2.5 times as likely to have real-time visibility into the status of all processes and are 145% more likely to have real-time collaboration across departments and divisions.

When users have a platform that allows them to easily share the information they are working on, they can more effectively collaborate with one another. Purchasing and sales can work together to coordinate likely future trends, logistics and supply chain can better work together for demand planning. With the right collaborative tools, your business can build a culture of problem solving, teamwork, and unity. 

When departments don't have the same barriers to share information, they are less likely to operate in segregation. Humans are social creatures, so it only makes sense that if we can facilitate for conversations and the sharing of knowledge, then it is more likely to occur. 

Social Media Collaboration.jpg

While you don't want to remove every element of face to face interaction, walking from desk to desk to acquire anecdotal information derived from second-hand recounts, is not tapping into the true potential of you team.

Interacting with customers 

Modern ERP solutions allow you to communicate with customers more effectively and develop a wide number of innovative business practices. For example, if a customer has a product issue, staff from varying departments can work with the customer to help resolve the matter without the need for countless emails and phone calls. This is better for all concerned. Customers can also be provided with specific information streams, such as order details and delivery status information, which further highlights the ability to improve the customer experience.

social enterprise has to be ready to adopt and live the true mantra of collaboration at all levels of their business if they are to truly be successful. The early adopters in this space will be able to build a strong competitive edge. Conversely, the laggards are likely to have a tougher route to adjust their business to the growing depth of social ERP functionality. In delaying such a transition these companies may even lose key staff who wishes to stay at the cutting edge of technology in the industry.

The constant evolution of collaboration in business will continue to be greatly influenced by the progress and increased adoption of social ERP functionality, so it is important your business prepares itself appropriately. 

Posted by Randall, Regional Vice President, Epicor Software ANZ

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