Imagine having the ability to fly, inhuman strength, x-ray vision, heat vision, cold breath, super speed, and enhanced hearing. Like Superman, you could overpower ordinary humans and be nearly invincible to threats.
Now what if your abilities were that you could eat anything, make your arms detach, and blow yourself into a beach ball and bounce around? Kinda cool, but not clearly advantageous.
Just as comic book powers are not created equal, neither are ERP solutions.
Now you may be thinking, “Wait a second, Robin…ERP?? What does that have to do with super heroes?” Stay with me. An ERP solution can power up your organization’s ability to conduct transactions efficiently and access accurate real-time data across verticals. It can enable you to outpace ordinary, non-digitally-transformed competitors. Not to mention, you’ll be like Superman (or Supergirl) in your boss’s eyes when you recommend the right one.
For certain, there is no one size fits all when it comes to ERP. However, if you run a growing company with a partially- to fully-remote workforce that outsources or sells in more than one country, i-Tech has identified 7 ERP “super features” that will pack the biggest punch in streamlining your operations and propelling your business into the future.
Super Feature #1: Open Platform
I start here, because when you take the plunge by investing in a new ERP system, you want to be confident that it will support your business for a long time.
An open platform is a super feature because it provides flexibility for your business to grow and change. You can choose the specialized apps you need to give your business a competitive advantage today. These can integrate seamlessly with your ERP. As your business needs change, you can always add, or take away, integrated software solutions to adapt your business.
As in the book Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr. Spencer Johnson, activities and behaviors which are rewarded change over time. A business model that may be wildly successful today is unlikely to work forever. Just look at Blockbuster. Streaming killed the DVD video star.
Only recently, COVID-19 forced many storefronts to close. Consequently, consumers made more purchases online. Retailers and wholesalers with open platform ERP software could quickly ramp up their e-commerce business through powerful integrations with BigCommerce, Shopify, and similar platforms. When your speciality software can talk directly with your ERP software, all systems reflect the same data.
Maybe there are a few things your business does differently from your competition which give you an advantage. Having an open platform also allows you to add customizations to incorporate these special functions into your business process.
Super Feature #2: Personalized Dashboards
A daily challenge that many of us face is sorting through the noise and distractions around us and focusing on our most crucial activities. A dashboard can help with just that. It’s meant to improve each worker’s focus and efficiency.
A dashboard is a screen which includes KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators), data and metrics, often color-coded and displayed in charts. It is most meaningful when its contents show data that is both relevant to the user’s decision-making process and impacted by her activities.
A controllers’s dashboard should include financial data including cash on-hand and cash required in addition to overdue payments and credits on hold, helping her manage cash flow. A salesperson should be monitoring leads and opportunities as well as if he is over or under his quota for a given time period. Data such as purchasing suggestions and open POS along with trends like high and low turnover items per month would help a purchasing manager stay on track.
Going beyond dashboards by role, some ERP solutions even allow for users to personalize their own interface and include the particular KPI’s that they care about. This allows for total flexibility around traditional roles. Some companies have their employees wear several hats while others organize workload through highly-defined roles.
Personalized dashboards are a super feature, because they give your team the flexibility to chose and monitor the data most important to them. They’re not forced into generic roles, and they can adapt their dashboards if their role changes.
Super Feature #3: Business Events & Automated Notifications
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits that ERP offers to businesses is the ability to eliminate redundant processing (i.e. entering data into multiple systems) and centralizing various verticals of business operations into a single database.
Business events set up to trigger a system notification can increase efficiency even further by automating some types of communication. Business events are most effective for situations where a predefined set of conditions always requires the same action. For example, do you have an accountant emailing reminders to clients who are past due on their invoices? You could save hours of their time by setting up an automated reminder to your point of contact whenever an invoice goes two, three, or 15 days (you decide) past due. Business events can also be used to notify a salesperson when he has a new opportunity or send a purchase order directly to a warehouse clerk to pack and ship as soon as the transaction occurs.
By automating reminders and communications, this super feature saves effort and reduces downtime.
Super Feature #4: Multi-Currency Accounting
When you conduct business globally, outsource any part of your operations overseas, or serve consumers of multiple nationalities, you are bound to deal in a variety of currencies. Save yourself major headaches by choosing ERP that is able to reconcile payables and receivables across these currencies. This super feature sets you up to streamline business transactions taking place throughout the world.
Super Feature #5: Feature-Based Pricing Model
One major complaint that we hear about with many ERP solutions is that pricing is determined on a per-user basis. When this is the case, in order to save on licensing costs, companies tend to limit the number of users who have access to the software.
It’s better to chose an ERP that is licensed based on the features and the amount of data used. What’s the point of having a single source of real time data if a number of your staff can access it? Or if one person conducts a transaction and another person has to enter it? A feature-based pricing model encourages companies to use the software across the entire organization, enabling you to get the full benefit out of your ERP.
Super Feature #6: Anytime-Anywhere Access via Mobile App
Do you have field service technicians out visiting clients, warehouse managers rarely at their desk, or staff working remotely? You can eliminate delayed transaction recording and redundant steps with an ERP that can be accessed on a portable device such as laptop, smartphone or tablet. The mobile app feature gives these employees full access to company data and the ability to process transactions from wherever they are and at any time via cellular or internet connection.
Let’s say you don’t get WiFi or a strong cellular signal in the back of your warehouse. Some ERP mobile apps would still allow you to pick and ship these items and subtract them from inventory as soon as you were back in the range of your WiFi.
As we turn the corner on COVID-19, the idea of employees in knowledge-based roles needing to work out of the same location 40 hours a week is already outdated. By 2025, it is estimated that 70% of the U.S.-based workforce will work remotely at least 5 days a month. With competition from other employers offering flexible work options, it would be a mistake not to invest in technology that can enable remote work to be performed both securely and productively.
Super Feature #7: Cloud-Based
Last but not least, don’t forget that the future is in the cloud.
Going cloud-based works hand in hand with anytime-anywhere access. Cloud-based ERP software can be securely accessed through any internet browser without installing software.
Secondly, if you are not an IT company, why would you want to purchase and maintain on-premise, enterprise-grade servers and networking equipment?
Now, if your company was an early adopter of ERP in the 90’s and early 2000’s, chances are you already have these, because back then you HAD to. Now you have the freedom to move past previous investments and sunk costs. Shed your servers along with unnecessary liability and wasted office space by migrating to the cloud.
Yes, cloud-based ERP still requires servers, but not yours. Many IT Service providers and as well as the ERP software providers themselves can manage your cloud hosting. A good cloud host will have a highly-trained and experienced team of engineers maintaining and backing them up, so you can be confident that your data is always safe, secure and accessible.
Still holding out for your ERP hero? We can help.
i-Tech has helped many businesses transition from on-premise to cloud-based solutions.
We bring decades of experience from a variety of fields and can quickly pinpoint features, configurations and industry-specific functionality that will pack a punch for your business.