5 Ways an ERP Business Intelligence Module Enhances Your SME’s Performance
Raw data bombards you all day.
As the financial leader of your small or medium-size manufacturing business, part of your job is to make sense of it, transform it into actionable insight for your executive team, and help all your colleagues make better decisions.
To make that job easier, you need the right tools in business intelligence (BI). Without these tools, you’ll spend a part of your day coordinating the manual collection of data from the various functions of your business, working with the numbers in spreadsheets, and then printing a report your colleagues will only spend a few minutes on. To make matters worse, you’re not the only one in your company spending hours to generate a report that is, soon enough, obsolete.
Fortunately, new tools have transformed BI to give you more insight, more quickly, so you can be more proactive in your decision-making.
Today’s BI offers a range of tools that can access your data and present real-time findings in various easy-to-read formats, such as reports, dashboards, graphs, charts, and other graphic forms.
For example, if you’re a food and beverage manufacturer of dairy products and you want to find out which vendors are delivering their milk late, a few mouse clicks would reveal that information and, if you wish, a geographic map locating these vendors. That map may, for example, reveal an infrastructure or geographic issue contributing to the tardy deliveries. Today’s BI makes this kind of vendor analysis simple.
To access the benefits of the new BI in real time, your business needs a foundational tool ? an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
What is an ERP system?
In an ERP system, a software module is dedicated to each of your business functions. These modules standardize all the data of that function and then integrates it into a centralized database that organizes all your business’ data in real time.
Through this centralized processing, the ERP can automate many business processes. For example, when a sales order is entered, the purchasing, inventory, manufacturing, and shipping modules are modified appropriately and almost instantly by the one entry. Nobody else needs to duplicate the entry of that document.
As a result of this almost instantaneous integration, all the data in your system reflects the real-time status of your business. Thus, any authorized person on your team can access your ERP system and get real-time visibility into your operations.
To learn more about the fundamentals of ERP systems, click on our article, “What is an ERP? Your Most Common Questions are Answered Here.”
Can the ERP connect to external business intelligence tools?
Well-designed ERP systems have a module dedicated to business intelligence. For ERPs that don’t have this module, external BI tools can be connected, but they have some significant disadvantages, such as:
Complicated usage. These independent BI tools may have numerous elements that require training to use. Thus, you’ll need to either train employees or hire a BI specialist, who may be expensive or not available in your industry sector.
Maintenance. As with any software, external BI tools need to be serviced to ensure that updates work properly on their own or integrate stably with your existing systems.
Performance issues. If your exporting a large collection of data to the external BI tool, it may have trouble importing the data. Or, the tool will slow down and time-out of its processes as it “digests” the data.
5 ways your ERP business intelligence module enhances performance
When your ERP solution comes with an integrated BI module, your employees can take advantage of the system’s easy-to-use functionality. So nobody has to learn, for example, how to write SQL queries. As a result, you can do the following.
Create advanced reports
Your ERP system provides 360-degree visibility into your operations. What’s more, with a dynamic analysis view, you can drill down into the data components of the figures you’re seeing and slice and dice the data as you wish, to build the reports you need.
If your ERP solution is cloud-based, all your managers, no matter where they are geographically, can access the same ERP data when creating their reports.
Get real-time data access
As noted above, the real-time access to data provided by an ERP system supports proactive decision-making. Let’s say you’re monitoring the waste your equipment is producing. If on Monday your level of waste was B, and on Tuesday at 2 PM it’s B+13%, you know immediately that some variable in your production has changed. You can take immediate steps to remedy the situation.
Democratize the use of reports and KPIs
Who says only managers can benefit from reports? With an ERP solution, any authorized person in your business can access data to see how their particular function is performing, or print the equivalent report.
What’s more, with the right ERP system, users can customize Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in a dashboard that automatically pulls together the information requested. The dashboard presents a visualization that instantly delivers the relevant information your team needs to stay on top of their function.
Want to learn more about KPIs and productivity? Click on our article, “5 Food and Beverage KPIs that Help Increase Your Productivity and Profitability”
Plan work and forecast trends more easily
Through your ERP solution, you have full visibility into your inventory, sales, and production. So when you enter a sales order into the system, you can precisely plan what materials and components you need to order, which manufacturing processes are going to be involved, and which staff will be working on the order.
What’s more, your ERP’s BI can report that, for example, over the last three years blue cheese has been trending as a big seller in the autumn and winter. By taking proactive action as a result of this insight, you enable the sales team to close more orders, keep inventory optimal, and ensure that production and staffing are working at just the right levels.
Mine your data for unsuspected insights
Many integrated business intelligence modules offer a predictive analytics function. Based on your query, analytics reviews (mines) large collections of data to find patterns and trends. In the past, you would’ve needed data science professionals to analyze and interpret the results of your data mining. But today’s BI modules deliver results your employees can understand and explore.
How financial leaders can profit from business intelligence
As a financial leader in your SME, it’s essential that you have up-to-date information to ensure that the business is financially stable. By staying on top of real-time data and trends, for example, in sales, profit margins, cash flow, and inventory, you and your colleagues can take corrective actions more quickly.
Through the capabilities of your ERP solution, you’ll be able to do the following:
- Reduce risk through the tight monitoring of financial KPIs and dashboards
- Communicate more quickly and impactfully because your data is easily shareable and visualized.
- Gain deeper insights, through planning and analytics, into historical data, and trends to understand the ins and outs of your business performance.
- Manage cash flow in real time.
To learn more about how an ERP system can expand your possibilities way beyond the the limits of your accounting software, click on our article, “Why You Should Switch From Accounting Software to an ERP System to Run Your SME”
As a financial leader in your SME, it’s critical that you separate the signal from the noise in all the raw data that bombards you.
By taking full advantage of your ERP’s business intelligence module, you can accomplish that task swiftly and easily, and make a vital contribution to the sustainability of your business.