Leveraging ERP to Integrate Business Processes

By Beena Nayar, Head-IT, Forbes Marshall

ERP embraces multiple-disciplines and diverse fields; and, keeping pace with the changes in each of these disciplines or fields is well nigh impossible. It is important to employ upgrades by thoroughly analyzing the specific requirements of the company not only to gain more business value but also to be in sync with government policies and statuary requirements. Further, such upgrades must be done at regular intervals, so as to remain relevant and effective.

One of the challenges in implementation of the latest ERP is that of user-adaptability to new processes. Thus, coordinated training of users will play a crucial role and will have to be seen as a mandatory requirement, so as to enable the staff to be conversant with and comfortable in the use of its application and wean them away from their respective comfort zones; or else, the entire well-meaning initiative is likely to backfire, resulting in redundant work and functional inefficiencies. Another thing that merits attention is that implementation must be in phased manner so as to avoid sudden upheaval and chaos. It is important to carry out process-engineering audit periodically in order to ascertain whether laid-down processes are being followed and to gauge whether we are deriving maximum leverage out of the ERP. Periodic audit will also enable us to see whether there is a scope for further improvement in terms of saving transaction time and making it more user friendly.

Robotics could help eliminate human errors and reduce transaction time on the system. And, if we link Robotics with ERP, it will automatically save transaction time and automate all the processes and updates. The present trend is a subtle shift in favour of a service oriented approach rather than a product oriented one.

Predictive analysis will further help in saving time and energy as well as improving performance and efficiency. Big Data allows companies to analyze large sets of data with precision and helps uncover real-time customer trends and patterns. It further allows companies to identify discrete trend changes happening in diverse areas and thus suggest new market opportunities. This collated data, with the help of analytical tools would give us all the desired information required to know which products are successful or which marketplaces need to be explored more.

IoT is transforming businesses for a few years now. It was already being used for gathering and analyzing information. Only recently have the ERP vendors started to make use of it. Integration has been done with various modules like logistics or CRM.

Integrating analytics with ERP is, however, a challenge as it takes time for traditional ERP to adapt to all these features.

Social media’s integration into ERP solutions is growing steadily. Social networking allows companies to connect with customers in real time, and enables them to analyze and understand prevalent trends and get on-the spot responses enabling them, in turn, to alter their products; thereby, ushering real-time adaptability to market trends. It further enables tracking of the company’s social activity.

Smart businesses have been able to leverage ERP applications to integrate business processes. Suffice it to say, in conclusion, that companies have been able to bridge the gap between the Business and Customer, thanks to ERP. Innovations are expected to rise phenomenally in this space. New plans and ideas are being developed which are going to transform the way businesses move forward.

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