ERP actually stands for Enterprise Resource Planning system. An ERP, in the traditional sense, is a software product that helps companies integrate various different processes to streamline their businesses by managing functions such as; orders, purchasing, planning, inventory, and warehousing. These systems were synonymous with accounting systems as the end result of each system was to bring back financial data to the accounting and finance departments. They were built by accountants, and for accountants, and therefore left the rest of the business on its own to sort out the data they required to manage their individual aspects of the business.
When most businesses implemented their traditional ERP system the departments outside of accounting would need to wait for accounting to provide them with the daily information, they required, to run their departments effectively. This waiting on accounting results created many bottlenecks in all different departments and therefore instead of waiting for accounting to accumulate meaningful data the departments and departmental managers began creating their own sets of data. They would create Excel spreadsheets and reports that they would use on a daily basis and would then share these spreadsheets with executive management. Hence key indicators and important information began to be siloed by each department, and even worse, the information created and used by each department would now reside outside the ERP and therefore may no longer match the source accounting data that is being relied on to steer the business in the proper direction. This is when your ERP/accounting system becomes less relevant and Excel became the software driver of your business. Each business leader will begin to maintain their own Excel spreadsheets, most times which need to be manually updated, to monitor key performance indicators that are used to measure key risks throughout your business. Additionally, Executive management may now need to wait for spreadsheets to be updated, and sometimes reconciled, by each department In order for key information to be reported on.
This is the reason your business needs to find an ERP – Excel Replacement Program.
How do you go about selecting a new ERP system? Follow these steps in order to ensure you are getting the right tool, program, for your business.
1. Start with a review of your existing processes and then examine how these processes may need to change in order to accommodate any new system you will implement.
A) When developing a proper process workflow you want to make sure that there is only one data source for all to use, one source of the truth. The data should be entered in a controlled environment once and used many times by all programs and departments. No one should have their own version of the truth.
B )Having proper processes and internal controls is paramount to getting the tool, your new software program, to work best for you. It is important that you include each relevant department in the process review to ensure that the system(s) you invest in will work properly within your business.
If you skip this step of analyzing your process your new ERP, Excel Replacement Program, will most certainly go back to being Excel.
2. Prepare a GAP analysis of your processes based on what you have learned and compare it to the functionality of any new system you may consider.
3. Review the functionality of the new system to determine how much it will need to be modified in order for it to work for you.
A) You want a system(s) that work with all departments and not just for accounting.In the era of the cloud-based systems having software applications share information and transfer data behind the scenes without human intervention is much more obtainable. These interfaces are mostly called Application Program Interfaces or API’s. This means you can have different front ends systems with similar data that allows each department to accumulate the data they need to run their departments without having to wait on accounting to provide them with their data.
B) Make sure that the systems you are looking at work with each department to share like-minded data and make that data available to others, who or authorized to have it, without having to have the data manipulated by Excel or any another tool.
4. Prepare a Request for Proposal that will allow you to determine which are the best systems for you.
A) Don’t look at too many systems, as this may confuse you. Limit your review to three or four at most.
5. Lastly, Make sure that the system could export your data to Excel. You may not want to make every person within your organization a user of the software, as there is a cost of ownership with most programs based on total user count. Not all managers will need to be using the system to benefit from the data it will produce; therefore you could provide them real-time accurate information in Excel, which they can in turn use to format and produce reports without having to create or manipulate the source data. Most systems will provide you the ability to automate the production of these reports so they could be refreshed on a daily basis.
At CAS Worldwide we assist our clients in reviewing processes and internal controls so when they are ready for an ERP project it will be successful. Please call us today at 516 770 0781 or email firstname.lastname@example.org