In a digital world, it always comes as a surprise to learn just how many businesses are using business software that simply doesn’t fulfill their requirements. As such, they end up using the humble spreadsheet to fill gaps in functionality. They become dependent on spreadsheets as a source for data analysis, reporting and budgeting.
As spreadsheets can fill gaps, it often leads businesses to believe that their basic business software is fit for purpose. However, this is rarely the case. Although they can provide a remedy for shortcomings in business software, they can also create incompatibilities in the technology stack and lead to increased costs in the long-term. For example, spreadsheets can cause extra problems for companies in the manufacturing industry as key information is held in many locations and formats, making it impossible to get meaningful and timely information.
Far too many companies have an accounting system with a stand-alone customer relationship system and then spreadsheets and various time consuming manual processes that fill gaps in their system requirements. With so many different systems, it becomes difficult to track and monitor all of the complex processes needed for the effective running of a business.
Fortunately, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software helps businesses to run more efficiently by pulling all of the information and processes together into one place so they are visible to the entire organisation.
The problem with spreadsheets
One of the biggest problems with spreadsheets is that they exist in isolation to the rest of the enterprise, thus creating barriers when it comes to collaboration, as information is difficult to access. When data is difficult to access and use, spreadsheets are used, but this often requires manual data entry in order to utilize spreadsheet information. On top of this, you have the dreaded version control of spreadsheets. As they are being constantly updated, you often end up with multiple versions of spreadsheets in circulation.
Thankfully, more and more businesses are starting to see sense and are moving away from spreadsheets. They’re now considered to be old technology and the key is to enable ERP software to provide the same service as the spreadsheet but in a way that ensures data integrity and also provides up to date information in real-time.
Replacing spreadsheets with ERP functionality
In order to replace spreadsheets with an ERP solution, it is essential that you ensure that the ERP solution in question has the required functionality to meet the needs of the business. Usually spreadsheets are replaced with ERP functionality at the time of implementation. If a business is investing in a new ERP Solution then it will need to ensure the replacement of the spreadsheets is included in the system specification.
As such, it’s vital that you seek appropriate advice from an ERP consultant. The objective should be not just the replacement of spreadsheets but also the optimisation of business performance as a whole. This is a key opportunity to successfully take your business forward with increased accuracy, better analytics and a more streamlined business process.
Maximizing the return from spreadsheet replacement
Before replacing spreadsheets with an ERP Solution, it’s worth taking another look at the business processes that are in place. You’ll often find that data is being collected and processed without any thought as to why. The transition from spreadsheets to an ERP solution can be an ideal time to take another look at the data currently being collected, utilised and reported on.
As part of this exercise, it’s beneficial to analyse the historic data being collected and used. A decision needs to be made in terms of what historic data needs to be transferred to the ERP Solution. Generally speaking, businesses achieve the greatest success in transferring data when they work in accordance with a detailed plan. It’s time to make decisions about whether to complete a mass transfer of data or whether to transfer in various stages. Although it’s usually easier to transfer in stages, real-time data is often required in entirety at the go-live of the new solution.
The benefits of an ERP solution
Furthermore, ERP software can also help businesses become more efficient by eliminating the need for the duplication of tasks and the tiresome task of manual entry. An ERP solution can automate many of the complex tasks that exist in the running of a successful business, saving you time and money in the process. Unlike spreadsheets, ERP software can also reduce the likelihood of human error when it comes to data. Thanks to the real-time integration between the finance, distribution and manufacturing functions, data is always up to date.
ERP software gives businesses a much better insight into their supply chain operations. Accessing this information enables businesses to make successful business decisions and stay ahead of the competition. It also provides visibility into operations, which makes problems easier to identify. This includes tracing of raw materials, inventory management and optimisation, production planning and scheduling, financial controls and the management of customer relations. Essentially, ERP does all of the complex tasks that take up so much of your valuable time and resources. It allows you to identify wastefulness, remove inefficiencies, improve customer relations and facilitate real-time collaboration.
Most ERP applications are also conveniently available for mobile and tablet devices. This allows employers to access vital and up-to-date information at any time when they’re on the go. It’ll even inform employees of any important updates to business operations.
Many businesses remain completely unaware of the power of ERP software and the many benefits offered. Don’t waste any more of your time manually inputting complex processes into spreadsheets or any other similarly tedious and inefficent tasks.
If you want to find out more about ERP, get in touch today.
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