Have your business systems been pieced together over time? Do you have a patchwork of software at different levels of technological maturity? Are you having interfacing and maintenance issues? If your software systems are not communicating, it may be time to switch to an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
Just like team sports, your business systems need to work together in order for your company to meet its goals. Many players working together can achieve much more than one player who is acting alone. While different business functions require tools that meet their specific needs, a problem occurs when the functional software is so isolated that it can’t work with any other system. They contribute to functional silos.
It’s a common problem that high-growth businesses share. As you add new offices, sales channels, products, and processes, you may have implemented short-term solutions to meet revenue goals. As a result, software applications were installed at different times and in different areas resulting in business process inefficiencies, software incompatibility, data loss, human error, complexity, and higher costs. When you have functional silos, challenges arise that can impede growth. Perhaps your company is already in this place. Or perhaps, you are headed down this path. In either case, it is important to begin to consider systems that will help you meet your long term corporate goals and that will enable growth and efficiency.
Teamwork is vital to achieving corporate goals. We require our employees to be team players; shouldn’t we require that of our software as well? Non-team players can be selfish, uncommunicative, and hard to work with. Unfortunately, this the case with much of our business software.
Many of the same qualities that define a good team player are qualities that you should look for in your business systems as well:
Effective Communication: A team player communicates well with other team members. Software that communicates effectively will easily integrate and talk to each other.
Sharing Information: Team players share information, knowledge, and experience that help the entire team. One of the most important benefits of “team playing” software is that data are shared among functions and processes without multiple data entry. This can be achieved through integrated enterprise resource planning solutions like Sage X3 or Sage 300.
Cooperation: Team players work with others and act together to accomplish a job. In the same way, business software needs to work across functions to achieve corporate goals.
Flexibility: Your team needs to deal with changing conditions and change course when situations change. Your business software needs to be flexible enough to incorporate future needs, growth and technology.
Active Participation: We want our employees to be proactive and identify problems. Good business software will run processes and indicate problems as they occur through alerts and dashboards.
Problem Solving: Team players identify problems and then collaborate with others to find a solution. An integrated ERP enables problems to be resolved across all functions.
Reliability: Team players show up and do the work they were hired to do. In the same way, your software systems need to work effectively and reliably.
Playing on a team requires collaboration; everyone needs to be striving for the same goal. The term, “collaboration,” has been overused. In the software technology world, it is often only used to define social media and conversation. But just talking about a problem won’t get you to the goal. You need to be able to share real data and processes. Your business systems need to enable cross-functional collaboration to meet company objectives for financial and market growth.
A big group of people using the same software doesn’t translate into collaboration. Cross-functional collaboration requires changing the culture, and often, your technology. Stand-alone software systems impose informational and operational silos. Departments cannot be integrated unless your business software talks to each other. Installing the most comprehensive system in each area that doesn’t communicate isn’t much better than no system at all. This means that sales, marketing, finance, operations, and service software should all be integrated, sharing the same database in real time. When all functions input data and have access to enterprise-wide systems, everyone can work together as a team. An integrated system gives the customer a better experience in addition to improving efficiency, productivity, and profitability.
For more information on how an integrated ERP can Improve manufacturing efficiency, download our whitepaper, ERP: A Strategic Growth Driver for Manufacturing Firms.
Contact us to learn more about our integrated ERP software, including Sage 300 and Sage X3, which will help your entire business work better as a team.