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Fiona McGuinness29-Apr-2020 15:28:077 min read

Modern ERP systems are the growth engines of future-proofed businesses

Today’s growing, future-proofed businesses need to be ready for anything. And a modern ERP system can help business owners achieve just that, particularly if you’re dealing with complex supply chains, a large b2b network or a central distribution network.

From COVID-19 to Brexit to the weather to suddenly trending on Twitter, modern businesses have to be able to act, and react, quickly and with confidence. The key to enabling this? Data. Real-time, insightful data to be more exact.

Data, and staying informed, is the new lifeblood of all organisations.

Being in control of the data that runs through your company, and knowing how to manage it effectively day-to-day to run your organisation, is key to growing your business and remaining sustainable for the long-term.

But your business is not producing data from just one part of your organisation. Every different element of your business is producing reams of information all the time. Your business software system is there in the background recording every keystroke, transaction, interaction and sales line.

Understand how to use this information to build your overall business, and your growth strategy will be on the road to being realised.

The good news is that modern ERP systems have all the functionality to streamline the data that runs through your business and deliver it in a user-friendly, timely format to the teams who need it. It is the growth engine you need at the very core of your business.


Meeting new challenges

Managing a complex supply chain or central distribution network is intricate and demanding. With thousands of moving parts, every active element in your business is dynamic and continuously changing. Even the most robust of supply chains can be subject to influences that are outside of your control.

In organisations where information often crosses a number of disparate platforms,  passing along intelligence can be time-consuming and prone to errors.

In an ERP-enabled organisation, this risk is minimised thanks to data being centralised. Even 3rd party platforms can be integrated seamlessly with your ERP system so that the vital intelligence it provides is not lost. Information silos disintegrate and your ERP system sucks in all of your business data to provide you with the 360 degree view of your business that you need.

Secondly, the personalisation capabilities embedded in modern ERP systems means that employees are empowered by user-friendly dashboards and real-time updates; all of which can be built and changed by their in-house system administrator. Reaction times are speeded up and, as a result, disruptions are minimised, or even eliminated and change can be embraced more readily by the organisation.

Thanks to advances in technology in recent years, our reality is that we live in an omnichannel, international world of commerce presenting another set of challenges to the modern organisation.

Consumers demand, and expect, access to products from all over the globe, which means working with partners in different territories. This change in consumer behaviour opens up new opportunities for growth; but it can also unmask new challenges.

These supplier relationships are prone to all the usual challenges, and consequences, of ineffective communication. They also rely on an ongoing understanding of local needs, customs and taxes. These are rules and regulations which themselves are always changing due to the growing influence of digital.

Digital is impacting how consumers behave. There was a time when retail or supply chain-focused businesses could rely on longer-term planning to determine stock levels or trends. Now, thanks in part to social media, consumer demands can change in an instant.

The only way to stay on top of the ebb and flow of consumer demand is to harness the huge data management, processing and analytics power of today’s future-proofed ERP software.

Modern ERP solutions take the guesswork out of stock forecasting. Advanced replenishment tools in your ERP solution use specialised forecasting algorithms that not only respond to the level of sales that companies are making, but can also anticipate changes and as a result future demand. These tools can be tweaked to accommodate your unique factors  (e.g. exclusion of seasonal stocks, exceptional periods/customers, special offers, buffer stock requirements etc.) to ensure the replenishment process for your business remains fully in line with evolving demand. This level of effective stock management could provide your business with the edge required to outpace competitors in an environment where on-demand stock is everything.


Building in efficiencies and profit

modern ERP system is about so much more than meeting challenges. It is an essential tool for creating business efficiencies that allow your business to not only survive, but elevate to greater heights. Taking the noise out of your business through automating mundane, repetitive tasks and improving the visibility of information through a centralised ERP resource is essential.

In other words, don’t just prioritise playing defense, use your ERP’s functionality to play offense too.

One of our clients, PC Building Supplies, succinctly explains what we mean by this. “We needed a new system to cope with our growing business. Intact iQ offered us the sort of stock integration and seamless transaction processing that we need to optimally run our business,” says Tim Dunning, Director.

PC Building Supplies Ltd is a family-owned independent firm that provides services to the Hampshire housing and trade community in the UK.

Feedback from other members within their organisation illustrates just how automating certain procedures can produce benefits for a business and customers alike.

“We can drill down to whatever we want to do. Top 20 customers, total deliveries that month, total cash sales that month. Total whatever you want, it’s so adaptable.”

“It made us look more professional to our customers. If there’s ever any problems, traceability is very good.”

“Before it would take a good 30 minutes to scroll through the products, whereas now you can pick specific words out and find that product within seconds.”

Another example that highlights the benefits modern ERP systems can bring to your business is in your warehouse and delivery procedures.

On one level, real-time visibility of an item’s movement from point A to point B helps all of those invested in its progress, e.g. the driver, the warehouse manager, the stockroom operative, the store manager and the end customer. But it also reveals so much more.

By analysing data such as transit and stock holding information, you can assess where improvements can be made. Is the transit company taking the most efficient route? Or perhaps the manufacturing and supply hubs should be re-sited? Are more items perishing in transit than necessary? Do items frequently take too long to arrive, leading to the risk of tarnishing reputations and hurting business relationships?

Perhaps managers are having to spend too long checking inventory in and out, and this prevents them from focusing on shop-floor customer service that could increase sales. In an ERP system, all of this information can be stored, analysed and reported on to give you the insights you need to make the most from your existing resources.

And don’t forget, a few changes in your ERP can also significantly improve your bottom line. Take some time out from the daily grind of everyday business to take a closer look at the margins you are attaining. See where improvements can be made. Where is margin being lost? With a bit of work and some tweaking of your business systems, you could really boost your bottom-line by setting up automated controls in your ERP system to ensure your business is operating the way you want it to. And once they’re set up, you won’t have to worry about leaking margin again.


The ERP system as a growth engine

Admirable though it is to squeeze every last drop of efficiency from existing processes, businesses cannot afford to stand still. Growth should be a given and here, too, modern ERP systems are helping organisations forge ahead.

An organisation that uses a modern ERP solution will have access to a platform that finds patterns in multiple data flows that no human could possibly manage effectively. Furthermore, additional functionality embedded within modern ERP systems means that your employees can make sense of thousands of data flows presented to them in a dashboard or screen that makes for easily digestible analysis for rapid action.

A modern ERP system, as a growth engine for your business, enhances collaboration between technology and people. And supports growth by providing up-to-date information at just the right time.


Fiona McGuinness

I've been part of the Intact family for 16 rewarding years. After completing my Business Studies degree, I knew Marketing was a field I wanted to pursue. Prior to joining Intact, I primarily worked in the financial sector, focusing on marketing for credit unions. When I started at Intact, I handled all the marketing tasks by myself. Over time, as our team expanded, so did my role. Now, I specialise in crafting compelling content across various platforms, from blogs to video scripts. No two days are the same, and I thrive on the dynamic nature of my role. Whether it's diving into customer case studies or lead campaigns, I'm driven by the positive impact our solutions bring to businesses. In an age where AI plays a significant role, I remain a firm believer in the power of authentic content. When I'm not working, you'll find me enjoying quality time with my family, sewing, or watercolor paintings.