The pains of ineffective processes and software in business are fairly universally felt, but as each company is unique, there isn’t an exact guideline that can be written to determine whether you are ready to implement an ERP system.

However, we do see some common indicators regularly so please read on to discover some of the signs that will reveal you are ready to take a serious look.

What is your longer term strategy for your business? Are your current processes in alignment with your strategic plan?

Take a look at your work flow that your current practices and business processes have to work through to get to the final destination. Is it streamlined or are you repeating certain tasks unnecessarily? Can your sales team have visibility of what has been dispatched? And then once goods have been dispatched, is it a manual process to let accounts know so that the invoice leaves in a timely fashion and you get cash in your bank.

If this fairly common workflow is fragmented, think about the man-hours that contribute to this on a daily basis, often compounding the issues and how much those wasted man hours are costing your business. If a sales person has to walk into the warehouse 2 or 3 times a day, the time soon ticks away!

Are you still using ineffective systems?

If some of your tasks are being repeated, this can often be the fault of your business infrastructure and different pieces of software, or, as in many cases, the myriad of spreadsheets, driving different areas of your business. So rather than a streamlined, well thought out process driving the business for maximum efficiencies, many organisations are ‘working around’ archaic IT systems which are holding them back.

Can you get real time information to make critical decisions?

This is a major problem for a lot of companies. Imagine the scenario, the Sales Director compiling a sales forecast based on ‘finger in air’ forecasts from sales people based on spreadsheets. Aside from the time it takes to put the final report together (even uniform spreadsheets can be difficult to merge) the information is quite frequently well out of date. Decisions taken based on this information could significantly damage the business as the true position has not been captured.

Do you know immediately if an area of your business has a business critical situation?

How long does it take your staff to let you know about a critical situation? And how many touch points has it had before it got to you? Do you know?

Could the situation have been avoided if you had been alerted at an earlier stage?
If the same or similar scenario happens regularly, you should easily be able to implement processes and procedures to negate the probability of a future occurrence. Can you? The answer will depend on your underlying business systems, their flexibility and the visibility of key data. Many businesses default to either a manual workaround or yet another spreadsheet to ‘plug the gap’.

How much of your time is used to manage normal every day routines?

Do you have business systems in place, that alert you based on a set of pre-defined triggers? Is your time spent managing the normal rules rather than the exceptions? Furthermore, are you presented with the right information at the right time to determine an effective course of action? Many business analysts, strategists and business management lecturers will advocate management of exceptions – if not as the general rule, as the higher priority to ‘normal’ business process.

In conclusion

If you are seeing any one of these situations in your business, then it is time to start evaluating if your existing business systems can support you in the future. If you are ‘putting-up’ with workarounds, and ever increasing spreadsheets, struggling to collate information to get a true picture; then you are missing out on opportunities to make your business more efficient and competitive.

ERP selection checklist

ERP systems should provide an integrated business system environment, enabling the capture, storage and immediate retrieval of all business data and information from across the business – not just finance. Well implemented ERP systems drive process efficiency and thereby maximise bottom line input from all departments.

Download our comprehensive ERP selection checklist to help guide your decision on which ERP system to choose.