For companies who are looking to improve efficiency without breaking the bank, an ERP optimisation can be the perfect solution. Rather than upgrading to a new, expensive ERP system, it can make good business sense to get more out of what you have already.
What is an ERP Optimisation?
An ERP optimisation is about ensuring your current system is working as well as it can within your business. This can include having visibility of data across departments, having teams comfortable using the system, and making sure the ERP supports your business processes.
Successfully implementing your ERP system is just the first step in maximising the overall ROI. Many companies fail to understand that just having a system in place is not good enough. And that is where an ERP optimisation comes in.
In the years following an ERP implementation the company is likely to go through changes, either with new products and services or changes to existing ways of working. This can lead to the ERP system no being fully utilised which an ERP optimisation would look to address.
Who is it for?
An ERP optimisation can be for any company that has an ERP system in place. The companies most likely to benefit are often at either end of the spectrum, having just installed a new ERP or have one that has been in place for several years.
It can still be worthwhile for companies who fall between if using your system is proving to be a headache every day. If you find yourself struggling to extract data or feel like you have to adapt how you work to suit the ERP system, then you are likely to need optimisation.
What are the Beneftis?
Meet Changing Business Requirements
As your company grows in size and scope so will the needs of your organisation. These business requirements need to be supported by your ERP if you want to be working efficiently.
For your ERP system to meet these new needs, you often have to perform some ERP optimisation. This is because as you document your new business needs you will start to see gaps in how you actually operate. You can also design for future business requirements, for example if you know a new product is launching in the next six months, then it can be beneficial to have this mapped out and start thinking about how this might impact what you need your ERP to do.
Having these requirements documented is what allows you to create streamlined processes in your business and start to work on optimising your ERP to support them.
Depending on the complexity of your needs, adding extra functionality to your ERP through integrating add-ons can help. Every sector and industry will have different needs and options available to them but looking at additional systems can provide a range of new features.
Unfortunately, these add-ons are often not integrated with the main ERP system properly. This leads to information silos and lost efficiency when teams have to enter data in multiple locations.
ERP optimisation will ensure systems are working together, giving easy access to information across the company. Having multiple systems talking to each other also allows for more accurate reporting and data analysis when it comes to areas like S&OP. A common problem we see is many organisation’s S&OP is actually S&OE which is a potential sign of unoptimised systems.
Better Customer Service
Often an overlooked area but a well optimised ERP system will support your teams in delivering better customer service. By integrating with your other systems, such as CRM, finance, and sales, your ERP becomes the central information point and ensures you have one version of the truth across the business.
For sales teams this means they can help customers faster than ever before. They can quickly see items that are in stock, provide more accurate price or delivery estimates, and track lifetime revenue for different accounts. All this helps you build a customer experience that encourages them to return to you time and time again.
Another benefit of ERP optimisation here is the ability to gain insight into suppliers and vendors. With all the right information you can accurately see what suppliers are delivering on time and if any are underperforming.
Sometimes an ERP optimisation does not involve complicated links with add-ons, rather it is all about updating your software to the latest version. New versions are often released to address issues, add new capabilities, or just improve the general performance of your ERP.
If you have custom modifications to your ERP system, then installing updates will require some extra care to not break anything, so working with your vendor is always recommended for this.
As we mentioned at the start of the article, the overall result of ERP optimisation is a better performing business. By extension, this means you are improving the ROI of your ERP system.
Improving the ROI allows you to show the value that investing in systems can have in your business, getting decision makers onboard with future investments. It becomes easier for them to sign off on expenditure if they can see a history of strong returns and value to the business.
Top Tips for an ERP Optimisation
1. Realign Business Goals & Processes
The first tip for ERP optimisation takes place outside of the ERP. You want to start by ensuring your business processes are still aligned with the goals you are trying to achieve. If you ERP system was installed years ago then it is likely your business has changed since then, both in what it aims to achieve and how it gets there.
Therefore, it is important that you address this first as it should be what guides how your ERP system is utilised. Remember, technology is just an enabler within your business and is there to support how you work. It cannot do that effectively if your goals and processes are not aligned.
2. Talk to Your People
People are the biggest asset of any company, and they are what drives or hinders ERP usage. You should regularly talk to teams from different departments to find out how they view the system. Does it work well, are they comfortable using it, or is functionality missing are all key things that system users will have a view on.
This can provide you with some quick wins for optimising your ERP. Not only will teams feel included, but you will make changes that have a meaningful impact and are wanted within the company.
3. Add in New Functionality
The capability of technology is always advancing. There may be new add on functionality that did not exist when you first installed your ERP system but would now be incredibly beneficial. Sometimes this will be ways of automating repetitive work with shortcuts, or it may be a larger add-on module with a host of functions.
While you may have to pay for custom code or new modules, this will often be cheaper than implementing a full new system.
4. Review Any Custom Dashboards
When you first implemented your ERP system you likely set up custom dashboards to display key information quickly. These are great for having the information you need readily available. However, not updating these dashboards or looking to improve them can cause missed opportunities for improvements.
At least once a year you should review custom dashboards to check if the information shown is relevant still. Look to remove information that you never use and add in any you wish you had.
5. Look for Data Silos
As your company has grown since first installing your ERP, it is likely that new systems have been implemented elsewhere. If these projects were done by their own department, then it is possible that it was not integrated with the ERP. This causes data silos where information is kept within one department and not shared across the company. This can lead to inefficiency with double data entry and will make it hard to compile reports to make quick business decisions.
Addressing these silos in your ERP optimisation project can be a great way to improve how accurate reporting is in your company. Teams will also be happy to see that they no longer need to enter data into two separate systems, freeing them to focus on more important work.
6. Refresh User Manuals
When you first set up your ERP system you likely created user manuals with how to do a variety of tasks. Over time the way teams use the system will change as they find shortcuts and improvements which leaves your user manual lacking.
It can be worth reviewing these manuals and updating them with how things are done now as well as add in any new key functionality that might have been added. Not only is having an updated way of working good practice, but it can help when you bring in new employees who will have to use these manuals. This way they get correct training for how things are done rather than how they were done three years ago when the system was installed.
An ERP optimisation can be a great way to improve how you company is operating in a cost-effective way. Often, it can help extend the life of your current ERP system as well as boost the ROI from when you first purchased it.
If you would like help to optimise your ERP so it is supporting your business processes, then get in touch today to see how our team can help.