Is your ERP working for you, or are you working for your ERP?
ERPs are an expensive but essential tool for businesses. With the amount of time, effort and resources that go into implementation, it’s hard to go back to the drawing board when you find your ERP isn’t allowing you to see the insights you want.
We’ve seen customers try to extend the capabilities of their ERPs, forcing their systems to do tasks that the ERP was never designed to do. For example, businesses export data into spreadsheets to analyze, plan and forecast out of their ERPs. But the disconnect between the spreadsheet and data source often means teams are working with outdated information.
Fortunately, there are complementary products to help you gain more from your ERP. Integrated add-ons allow you to customize what information and capabilities you require. These add-ons can help with financial management, supply chain management, inventory management, and human resources, to name a few. It’s cheaper and easier to integrate an add-on than forcing your ERP through a convoluted workflow.
This article will focus on three of the more common and useful add-ons:
1. Corporate Performance Management (CPM)
2. Business Intelligence (BI)
3. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
1. Corporate Performance Management
Corporate performance management (CPM) solutions are used to gauge how a business performs. Made for accounting and financial purposes, CPMs look at a business’ current financial performance and can generate a forecast.
From HR to sales to marketing, CPM tools help you get a detailed look at the finances in each department, and how they add up to the big picture. From there, businesses can create budgets and forecasts using the latest data straight from their ERP.
CPM tools are also generally used to create reports in real-time. Reports will enable CFOs to present data in a clear and concise way, keeping top executives aware of your company’s financial status.
CPM Example - Limelight
Limelight enables finance teams to be more productive, offering integration, collaboration, and control over their data. Our software is based on Excel and includes all of the functions finance teams are familiar with, but with features that make their lives easier.
Data is pulled directly from ERPs such as Sage Intacct, Netsuite, MS Dynamics, Epicor, Deltek, Oracle, SAP and more, reducing the risk of data-entry errors. Limelight turns spreadsheets into a collaborative platform, with team members all working together with the latest set of data. Using Limelight’s capabilities as a CPM tool, finance teams can significantly reduce their FP&A process time.
CPM Use Case
CPM software can help teams who want to speed up the time it takes to run reports and forecasts. Teams who not only want to organize their data in one system, but also plan comprehensively with the aggregated data, will benefit most from CPMs.
Using CPM add-ons, teams can easily input scenarios to see percentage increases or decreases in budgets, for example. Users can also see scenarios from different departments all on the same template, thanks to the direct connection to the ERP.
Forecasting in real-time is possible when CPMs integrate with a business’ data sources, quickly pulling in data and presenting it in a pre-built template. All of this is automated, meaning teams can now spend their time on analysis and strategies for growth.
The time spent on repetitive manual tasks adds up. With CPM software such as Limelight, the FP&A process is shortened from days to minutes.
2. Business Intelligence
Business intelligence or BI add-ons provide a way to visualize the data in your ERP and present it in an easy to understand and report. BI software displays information at a glance, enabling decision-makers to analyze their data quickly and efficiently.
BI Example - Microsoft Power BI
Microsoft Power BI is a business intelligence tool offering reporting, budgeting, and dashboards for data visualizations. Users can share data insights via the interactive data visualizations, and see where to cut costs, identify areas for opportunities and improve business efficiency.
BI Use Case
Businesses looking to do more than day-to-day data processing, and instead want to run analytics reports will benefit from a BI tool.
As an example, banking divisions can use a BI tool to create reports looking at the volume and types of transactions from online customers. Taking it a step further, BI can look at customer complaints, as well as the time it took to resolve issues and which departments were involved.
BI tools can help businesses visualize their data at a granular level. A BI add-on can be set up to track the number of hours spent on projects each week, and which departments worked on each project the most. Managers can then track budgets easily, as they now have a visualization of the hours going into each project.
With a BI tool in place, managers can make smarter business decisions.
3. Customer Relationship Management
Customer relationship management or CRM add-ons can help businesses manage customers, leads and sales processes. CRMs can also include charts to give you a visual representation of how your sales and marketing efforts are operating.
These ERP add-ons are vital for improving customer relations. They allow you to segment customers based on criteria that work for your business, as well as draft specific marketing materials for each customer group.
CRM Example - HubSpot
HubSpot is a CRM tool that can be used to manage your contacts and generate reports on how your sales team is performing. HubSpot has tools for three different teams in one: marketing, sales, and services. Their focus is on inbound marketing, which draws customers into your business and to your site using content that is educational and valuable.
HubSpot tracks any and all interactions between prospects and your company. You can sort which of your contacts are furthest down the sales funnel, giving you a better picture of who to target.
CRM Use Case
Companies that value knowledge sharing and have a strong focus on customers will find CRM add-ons useful.
Many companies use a number of solutions for inbound marketing, including email automation software, social media schedulers and a separate system for content management. However, these platforms often do not work well together, making the entire marketing process potentially expensive and time-consuming.
Having all customer information in one place makes it easy to track leads, and paint a better overview of an individual customers’ journey. A CRM add-on can keep businesses fully informed of content that can help the customer, and what stage of the journey the customer is in.
Because CRMs can gather all customer data in one place, teams will find it easier to provide personalized service for them. Salespeople, as an example, can see the history of a customer’s interaction with the company, starting from how the customer found them, down to what content they downloaded.
Using that information, the sales team can personalize the conversation to the customer’s journey, and avoid asking redundant questions. This adds to the customer experience and increases the likelihood of them being a repeat customer, or that they will spread a positive review to their network. A CRM tool can automate the collection of customer data, and facilitate smoother customer interactions.
Choosing the Right Add-On
All of the add-ons mentioned above work to automate time-consuming tasks in business, as well as display complex layers of information at a glance. The main purpose of these tools is to provide teams with more time for business insights. The data collected and presented using these tools can make for more business growth, as areas for opportunity have a chance to stand out.
The most important step is to evaluate your business needs first. It is better to have an add-on work for you, rather than teams being unproductive by investing time and effort trying to extend the capabilities of a new system.
Keep searching for new add-ons to integrate with your ERP. Your business likely has unique problems that require the right mix of add-ons to arrive at a solution. A good place to start is by checking out your ERP’s marketplace for add-ons that integrate directly with your existing system.
CPM, BI, and CRM add-ons allow you to make the most of your ERP and ultimately drive greater business growth.
To learn how you can get real-time planning and reporting out of your ERP, download our brochure here.