Many industries are adapting to COVID-19-related requirements by maintaining operations while employees work from home. While this can be an effective approach for some, it introduces significant challenges for companies that are attempting to execute key processes, operate complex systems, report accurately with data spread over multiple locations, or effectively communicate with teammates—especially if they don’t already have the infrastructure for these processes.
However, leveraging enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems can help companies automate key processes, manage complex systems with adherence to internal controls, gain real-time visibility into their operations through better reporting, and save money through better use of technology.
Below are some of the key benefits ERP automation provides as well as ways these benefits can help companies navigate business disruption caused by COVID-19.
1. Help Increase Security and Meet Compliance Standards
As business expectations rapidly change, many industries are experiencing pressure from regulatory reform—needing to simultaneously produce new products, protect their operations, and meet evolving compliance standards.
While some companies must spend significant time and resources monitoring data protection to determine if they’re meeting compliance standards, automated ERP solutions such as NetSuite allow a company to perform these analyses continuously and automatically from a single system—without requiring extra time or resources.
ERP solutions can also provide leadership with ongoing verification that operations are protected from data breaches and cyberattacks, while allowing a company to meet industry best practices—such as single sign-on and two-factor authentication—and remain compliant with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and data security standards. These verifications are increasingly important because fraud and cyberattacks typically increase during times of economic uncertainty.
2. Consolidate IT Processes
An ERP solution can consolidate the number of systems IT needs to support and establish up-to-the-minute reporting, even while employees work from many different locations, helping IT support ensure users can work effectively.
This allows employees to spend more time on their specific roles and tasks and less time navigating separate software systems for operations, accounting, and customer relationships, because they’re all combined into a single platform. Ultimately, a reduction in the needed systems and the automation of key processes into a single system can lead to reductions in operational errors and inefficiencies that cause issues including:
- Workflow bottlenecks
- Employee productivity barriers
- Customer service breakdowns
ERP solutions such as NetSuite also deliver two automatic system updates each year that include the latest protective measures, automatically integrating them into your systems. This allows you to stay ahead of changing IT threats so your system is always up to date and better prepared for a potential breach.
3. Reduce IT Spend
Many modern ERP solutions don’t require on-site servers or networking equipment. As a result, systems can be managed remotely, and companies don’t need to invest in hiring specialists to manage a data center or maintain a cloud-based system—potentially increasing capabilities and security while reducing IT costs.
Additionally, because ERP systems perform automatic updates, companies don’t need to allocate resources for hardware, supplementary operating systems, database licensing, or other associated support systems. Similarly, IT teams don’t need to waste time or resources managing multiple, disparate applications or integrating, maintaining, and acquiring new versions of these applications.
4. Access Intelligent Financial Data in Real-Time
Most systems currently in use are designed for an era when companies could wait until the end of the month to get the data they need. During times of business disruption, however, having the visibility to make quick decisions based on changing variables is even more important.
Through leveraging the automation possible in modern ERP systems, companies can gain clear, relevant, real-time access to metrics and reports that are key to your organization. A modern ERP platform’s reporting and dashboards allow multiple users to review their financial data continuously through:
- A single shared database
- Role-specific real-time reports
- Insight into key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Ability to view summary information and drive down to transaction level data in a few clicks
These capabilities allow teams to reduce the amount of time spent preparing and auditing data, while helping them access accurate analytical reports, forecast financial health, identify trends, and make informed decisions more cost effectively. This is especially important for companies that are adjusting to new working structures, such as a new remote working environment, or operating with fewer personnel.
5. Save Money and Resources
When a company lacks a complete view of its data, it can lose capital by either making important decisions too slowly due to unsynthesized information, or making hasty, risky decisions based on inaccurate or incomplete information.
Resilient businesses invest in the systems they need to complete tasks in a timely, accurate, and efficient manner. Having unified, real-time access to data through an automated ERP solution could help an entity become more profitable by allowing it to:
- Reduce cycle times
- Close its books faster
- Streamline the quote-to-cash process
These benefits are especially helpful when a company:
- Evolves to meet changing market demands
- Finds itself understaffed
- Receives less revenue than normal due to changing revenue or an adjustment to go-to-market models
- Needs to restructure its business or processes
We’re Here to Help
Adapting to significant changes in business processes or approach can be challenging—especially during times of uncertainty.
To learn more about automated ERP solutions, or how your company can streamline its operations, contact your Moss Adams professional.
For regulatory updates, strategies to help cope with subsequent risk, and possible steps to bolster your workforce and organization, please see the following resources: