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5 Critical Capabilities for Your ERP System

Get the data you need to scale, grow, and transform your business.

October 19, 2023

Are your current tools serving your business needs—both today and into the future? Whether you’re a small start-up selling a product or a large-scale manufacturing plant running thousands of units per hour, you need to understand everything happening in your company at once. At some point, separate niche tools will no longer keep pace, and you’ll look to one tool that can consolidate all the data points and information about your organization into a single source of truth.

That single source of truth is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which gathers data from across your organization into software that can be accessed by the right people at the right. But an ERP doesn’t just gather and house data; it can analyze that data for actionable insights into your operations.

It’s a tool that can transform your business by showing where you’re already having an impact and where you can improve efficiency and productivity, reduce waste and downtime, and increase margins and revenue.

As you evaluate ERP, you need to consider systems that will help you further your organization’s goals. Ultimately, you’ll need to know whether it contains these five must-have capabilities—the critical ones that will give you a foundation for success.

1: Data integration across your organization

One of the most important things you’ll rely on your ERP for is data collection. Having vast amounts of data from across your organization gives you insights into how you’re functioning and areas for improvement. So you shouldn’t have an ERP system that only provides part of that big picture.

Your ERP system should have the ability to integrate with all the different applications, databases, devices, and systems across your organization, and be able to pull in all the data it needs. Modern ERP systems often use open-source solutions for this and should sync across APIs. If your business is ramping up on its use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, be sure that your ERP system can integrate the data they collect as well.

2: A modern interface and intuitive user experience

An ERP should be easy to use, especially considering how much it’s capable of doing. Home menus should be easy to navigate, data and resources easy to find, and design similar to the latest technology out there today.

But ease of use plays another important role. A tool that’s easy to use means people will use it. If the interface is familiar to them and feels like navigating a webpage they frequent or swiping and tapping on their smartphone, the learning curve will be much lower. A tool that provides value and insights to help them do their job better is something they’ll return to repeatedly.

Don’t be hesitant to adopt more technologically-forward tools. In our recent report on the “Voice of the Essential Manufacturing Worker,” 60% of frontline manufacturers said they would take a pay cut to leave their current company for a more technology-driven one.

3: Advanced business intelligence and analytics

Your ERP will give you a lot of value by collecting data from across your organization, displaying it on easy-to-interpret dashboards, and providing you analysis and insight on improvement to make in your operations. However, in today’s world of increasing materials prices, supply chain disruptions, staffing shortages, and other challenges, businesses who that can adjust operations and remain agile will be in optimal position to be successful in the long run. Considering that factories that leverage big data and technology to inform their operational decisions have seen an 85% improvement in forecasting accuracy, what if your ERP could make those predictions and pivots for you?

By analyzing the data it collects, as well as industry and market data, your ERP should have the ability to more accurately forecast your business needs, reducing downtime and outages, maintaining production time, and incrementally increasing your margins. Coupled with automation, your ERP can then make those changes and pivots on its own, ensuring that you’re functioning as efficiently as you can.

4: Cloud deployment

One of the capabilities of your ERP should be the ability to handle localization, so that you can grow and expand your business as you need. Even if you’re only in one location today, you’re likely to scale past that border in the future—and your vendors and business partners are likely already in other locations. Enabling this capability requires cloud ERP.

The benefit of cloud ERP is that everyone can access ERP data and insights from wherever they are. This means not only accessing cloud-based ERP systems remotely, but also having your ERP adjust to local requirements like currency, time zones, and regulations. Having a company that competes on the global stage means having the right tools and resources to do so. Cloud also helps ensure that your cybersecurity stays up to date.

5: Security monitoring and identity management

Another capability to consider in your ERP is cybersecurity. Your ERP houses data from all across your organization, and links to multiple other business applications as well. It houses all of your business insights. It controls your automation. It holds customer information. And everyone in your organization likely has access to the ERP system. How do you keep that storehouse of information and insights safe from malicious actors who want to break in—especially considering that the average cost of a data breach is around $3.86 million?

This is why having an ERP system with monitoring and identity management capabilities is key. You want to be able to know who is accessing your ERP and from where, and if they’re authorized or not—especially if you allow third-party vendors access to your system. Identity and access management is especially important if you’re using a cloud-based ERP. Modern ERP systems generally carry several layers of security today, but protecting your data and assets should be top of mind.

Prepare for the Future of Business with a Modern ERP

Whether you’re a small start-up or a large-scale manufacturing plant, ERP systems are the solution to help you see everything that’s going on in your business all at once. It’s also a tool for remote engagement, collaboration, better forecasting, and overall business transformation. Will your business tools be ready for your future growth?