ERP Systems: The Most Valuable but Untrustworthy Data Store
By Vikram Chalana on March 27, 2017
ERP systems are the backbone of all but the smallest companies. At the core of an ERP system is the “general ledger” or accounting system that tracks all of a company’s financial aspects – and virtually everything has an impact on your financials. Marketing and selling a product has an impact; purchasing raw materials from a vendor has an impact; designing, manufacturing, and storing products has an impact; and, last but not least, hiring and paying employees will have an impact on financials.
Companies often choose to implement an ERP system for one of two reasons:
- To achieve real-time visibility of the entire business in a single application. Because data from all parts of the organization are managed and consolidated in the ERP system, you gain complete transparency of your business performance at any moment of time.
- To increase efficiency due to business process integration. Running all parts of your business in a single system provides huge advantages, because you don’t need to key data into multiple systems of record. Intermediate data from one step in a business process are available for the next step.
Although an ERP system is essential to operating and scaling a company, it often comes with multiple challenges that include:
- Too much data to input. To accurately track everything so your business can run better and you can access the reports you need, the ERP system requires vast amounts of data. Entering data in a timely and accurate manner ultimately becomes the responsibility of ERP end users. But the process of collecting data that need to be fed into the ERP system and then entering data is often manual, time-consuming, and error-prone.
- Difficult to use. Due to the amount of data needed and the number of screens users have to navigate, ERP systems are notoriously difficult to use. ERP users need to be continually trained to use the system effectively, and unfortunately due to budget constraints, end-user training falls by the wayside too frequently.
- Difficult and expensive to change and adapt. Adapting your ERP system processes to your business frequently involves customizing your ERP system. This is an expensive and time-consuming proposition that consumes valuable programming resources.
Because of these challenges, ERP systems often do not live up their promise of delivering efficient operations and real-time accurate reporting. In addition, data in ERP systems are often poor quality and untrustworthy. Compounding these problems and the manual processes that feed data into the system results in increased cycle times for all business activities.
About the author
As Winshuttle's Chief Technology Officer, and Co-Founder, Vikram has been focused on empowering people to transform their ERP-based businesses since Winshuttle's humble beginnings. He is passionate about technology that allows people to improve their lives and the way they run their businesses. Outside of work Vikram likes to spend time outdoors running, hiking, kayaking, and skiing.
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