How are you deciding which ERP solution to buy? As you evaluate enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, what features and capabilities do you seek out?
All too often when implementing an ERP selection process, leaders spend an overwhelming amount of time focusing on process features, i.e. “I need to go from order to payment; how easily can we execute those steps?” Most systems today can efficiently perform the common processes. However, you should aim for a system with the ability to give you actionable information.
Ask yourself, “Does a particular system show you what you need to fix and act upon, or do you struggle to see that information?” A system that focuses on providing actionable information, as opposed to one that simply handles the processes, will guide you to use your time to its best advantage and as a result produce higher-quality work.
Every ERP system is different and how they provide actionable information will differ as well. For example, in Microsoft Dynamics NAV you will find images which look like stacks of paper on the home screen. These images are called cues, which are graphics representing particular record sets. Each record has a numerical value in the graphic and the size of the stack relates to the quantity of records in the list. These stack images deliver actionable information such as past due invoices, projects over budget or late shipments.
The ability to easily and quickly react in order to fix a problem should be significant criteria in an ERP solution. Here are some areas within a system you should look to see indications of actionable information.
In the Purchasing area you should easily see
- Non-performing vendors
- Late receipts
- Solicited credits from vendors that are not acknowledged
In the Sales area you should easily see
- Late shipments or orders shipped, but not invoiced
- Outstanding quotes
In the Production area you should easily see
- Past due production orders
- Orders exceeding expected costs
- Late materials
- Over-capacity work centers
- Key work centers out of usage due to maintenance
In the Payables area you should easily see:
- Delayed payments
- Credits that are not acknowledged
In the Receivables area you should easily see:
- Late payments
- Customers exceeding credit limits
- Past due invoices
These situations are areas of concern which organizational leaders need to take action. A good ERP solution can give you great awareness of what needs attention.
As systems mature over time outside of basic offerings, the real value is selecting an ERP solution that makes it easier for you to see a problem, thus making your organization more streamlined and helping you make better choices for your customers.