Reporting Function-Whether a company is using one of the “Big 6” ERP’s – SAP, Oracle, Sage, Workday, Infor, or Microsoft Dynamics – or one of the hundred or more other smaller ERP’s that are customized to a specific vertical industry, ERP software systems are the “heart and lungs” of any business. From inventory, sales, and purchasing to manufacturing and finance, ERP systems touch every part of the business and provide workflow and control. When you hear enterprises talking about “mission-critical” systems, they are talking about their ERP. In fact, most companies invest millions in these systems, dedicating huge teams and amounts of time to manage, customize, and optimize them, all to gain a strategic edge.
The challenge for companies is that this treasure trove of data resides in a monolithic system that retains and structures data in very rigid and complex ways that are not aligned with the agile reporting needs in today’s market. Everything is data-driven now, but if teams can’t easily access and report on it in an automated fashion and in real time, the data isn’t very valuable.
In this light, we spoke with Mike Lipps, CEO, insightsoftware, about some of the common challenges a lot of teams have in terms of reporting out of ERP systems – and how this type of automation not only benefits the business, but also adds value to the underlying ERP data and investment.
What are some of the common challenges?
The ERP system has a tremendous amount of data, but it is not easily accessible. There are also other systems with critical data, but they cannot easily be combined, creating disparate islands of data and knowledge scattered around the business.
ERP systems were supposed to help with this, but they haven’t. And this view is reinforced by survey data from an industry consulting service about executive views after deploying ERP systems: 44% of teams realize less than half the expected benefits of their ERP system, 50% plus realized no productivity or efficiency gains after implementation, and most alarmingly, given the required investment, only 17% believe their ERP has led to better-informed decision making.
The reason is clear: a disconnect between the data and timely reporting. As an example, a typical finance department is closing the books at the end of each month as well as doing a quarterly and annual reports. Today, most finance departments are pulling the required data out of the ERP and other systems, putting it into Excel or another reporting tool, manipulating the data and formatting it into the required reports…and then repeating that exact same manual process for every single report.
The challenges are pretty straightforward: It’s a manual, time-consuming, and error-prone process that typically requires business users to rely on IT staff to accomplish it. More importantly, it starves the business of having the real-time data and analysis to make strategic decisions.