Many in the business of planning and forecasting are personally familiar with the statement, “Information is power.” The ability to take objective metrics and large amounts of data, translate that into trends, and make solid assumptions on predictable trends continuing goes right to the heart of forecasting in any field, whether it be the military on operations or a manufacturing projecting assembly demands for the next six months. And when the data is shoddy, missing gaps, or unreliable, the forecasting naturally is bad, weak or can’t be produced.
One of the big advantages of a solid ERP system is the ability to draw practical, useful trend information about what’s going on with the subject business. As many clients have seen and realized, aspects about their business that were previously bottled up in silos or under the tab of just specific offices suddenly become not just available for review but compatible with other company data, producing new information strategy products that previously didn’t exist before.
Of course, a lot of this new data management depends on how well a consumer understands and uses the ERP system to its full potential; people still drive the value and capability of the system. There is no automatic whiz machine that magically anticipates what a CEO or manager might need. And, as any manager knows, canned reports can be extremely limited in benefits. Custom use reports are where the big data treasures are located.
- Data becomes integrated and available to all programs in a company versus one. No more hidden dark spots in the operations tracked.
- There is a dashboard full view of what’s going on in a company versus various disparate reports.
- Ecommerce gets integrated into ERP, allowing increased forecasting ability of online revenue streams. The same goes for accounting as it relates to tracked program activity.
- Customer and supplier self-portals availability increase behavior tracking for predictive use.
Critics are correct; ERP systems don’t magically produce solutions for a business’ success. That takes the people behind the business knowing how to use the tools available to them and making the right decisions. However, an ERP provides an incredible window into the company’s data, allowing managers to see information they otherwise would never have access to. And that creates big opportunities for success, especially with better planning and forecasting.