ERP: Your ticket to better business visibility, control and efficiency
When it’s time to evolve and mature as a business, the process of choosing the right software solution to help your organisation grow can be complex, confusing and even frustrating.
However, simply having Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software doesn’t set your business on a path to success.
You need to find an ERP with the right features, fit, functionality, and then an experienced partner to help you make it work for your organisation to avoid a costly and embarrassing failed implementation.
Fusion5 is a trans-Tasman business solutions company that is a trusted partner for more than 1,200 clients, providing a range of services from digital transformation solutions, applications, consulting services, development, cloud, and managed services.
Fusion5’s CEO Sven Martin says finding the right ERP empowers a business to simplify, integrate and automate time-consuming processes, while also giving greater insights to decision-makers, and enabling smarter, faster decision-making.
“It also leads to better profits, more satisfied customers, and happier employees and stakeholders,” says Martin.
“An ERP centralises data from across your organisation (finance, operations, warehousing, procurement, manufacturing, HR, sales, and marketing) making it possible to see the influence and impact of each division on productivity and revenue in real-time.
“It also makes it possible for key stakeholders and decision-makers to access that data securely, and with the confidence that they’re using the most up-to-date version.”
How do you know if you need an ERP?
You may have a basic financial management application, like Xero, that you’ve outgrown. Perhaps you’re still doing everything on spreadsheets, and the errors and time taken to manually update, manipulate, and interrogate your data has become too much. Maybe you’ve found yourself in a situation where you have multiple ERPs or a collection of business management tools that aren’t integrated, causing delays and confusion.
“Based on our experience over the past 20 years, these are some of the most common indicators that you need to invest in a better business management platform,” says Martin.
You’ve got separate software products for different processes
If the accounts department is using one system for receivables and payables; sales is using another for customer orders; inventory, shipping and receiving is in yet another – that means the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, and it’s time to look at an ERP to consolidate everything.
You have frustrated, unhappy employees
If you hear your employees complaining about how hard it is to use certain tools, or that it’s so time-consuming downloading one report from one system to upload it to another, only to then export the data, to then analyse it in a third system or application – it’s a good idea to start considering an ERP. If your employees are unhappy, chances are your customers aren’t getting a great experience either.
Spreadsheets are everywhere
If Excel is your primary database for sales figures, accounting, customer data, inventory and the like, you are guaranteed to have siloed data that contains errors, is seldom up to date, is not secure, and has required excessive amounts of time to manually key and manage.
Spreadsheets are awesome, powerful tools when used for the intended purpose and with appropriate boundaries. Acknowledge the red flag and consider moving to an ERP.
You have the same data in multiple places and it never matches
Do you have sales data, inventory data, even human resource data in multiple databases, but when you try and get a single report, there are always unexplained discrepancies? This makes it hard to know which decision to make to be successful. Again, it’s time to think about getting an ERP.
The ‘X’ report syndrome
If budgeting, forecasting, planning and reporting are constantly hampered by not being able to trust whether you’ve got the latest data, or someone’s ‘Version 2.4.Final.7.DoNotUse’ spreadsheet, start researching ERPs.
You’re playing Marco Polo to view business-critical data
Can you quickly and easily find and compare the number of sales made on a specific date over a five-year period? If it takes you longer to find the data than it does to answer that question, it’s time to be looking at an ERP.
Admin is burying you
If you need more admin staff than operations staff, chances are you’ve got too many systems that aren’t connected and are causing a lot of duplicated (and wasted) effort. An ERP can reduce administrative burden significantly.
Multiple entities, all using different finance systems
Like the above, but with the added complexity of different businesses that need to work in sync with each other – but aren’t!
The problems an ERP will solve
“We all know that being more organised, with better data at our fingertips is going to help us run our businesses more successfully,” says Martin.
“When you remove barriers to efficiency by automating processes, and centralising data, your ability to make smarter decisions that can improve your productivity, profitability, and the experiences of both your employees and customers is vastly increased.”
Among the many clients assisted by Fusion5 is Natural Pet Food, a New Zealand-headquartered company comprised of five companies, with subsidiaries in the US and Australia. Natural Pet Food products are sold in 23 countries.
The business ran all five companies on small-business accounting software package QuickBooks, but as the organisation continued to grow, so did the level of frustration at the software’s limitations.
“The main issue was the inefficiency caused by needing multiple separate logins for each company,” says James Jorgensen, Natural Pet Food’s CFO.
“QuickBooks didn’t support inter-company elimination or group financial consolidation. These transactions had to be processed manually, which chewed up a lot of time. However, the driving force to change was that QuickBooks only had one inventory location - and we had 13 locations.”
Natural Pet Food Group wanted a lean administrative headcount, while focusing on expanding into new markets and countries to achieve rapid revenue growth.
It needed to make quick business decisions with more clarity to protect and improve gross profit, which made access to real-time sales and marketing analysis and insights critical.
In 2016, Jorgensen took to Google to find the solution which would simplify life and run the books for five companies effectively.
From a shortlist which included Sage, ACCPAC, Greentree, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and SAP Business One, Natural Pet Food chose NetSuite as their new ERP, and Fusion5 as their partner.
“We were impressed with Fusion5 and how well regarded they are,” Jorgensen says.
“Initially we thought that NetSuite was a step too far, and that financially we were at least a year off making that level of investment. But we liked what Fusion5 were saying to us, and we knew we had to take that leap to get further ahead.
“Since we implemented NetSuite, we’ve grown well over 30 per cent, but we haven’t had to add more hours or people to our accounts function."
Which ERP – as clear as mud?
Don’t worry, download Fusion5’s free ERP Comparison eBook to find out which ERP has the right ‘fit’ for your business.
“There are many ERP solutions on the market – some are quite niche and designed for specific industries, some are extremely complex and require full-time in-house specialists to manage them, while others are very simple and DIY in nature,” says Martin.
“Some are better for businesses with a turnover of $100 million-plus, and some are better for smaller enterprises.
“In our 20 years of experience as an ERP partner, we’ve learnt that there are three ERPs which most consistently meet the needs of businesses in Australia and New Zealand.”
These are NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain.
“In many cases, the features and functionality of these three will fulfil the needs of most organisations looking for a new ERP,” says Martin.
“But it’s the fit that really counts and, if it’s difficult to work out, that’s where Fusion5 steps in.
“As an ERP partner, Fusion5 not only supplies ERPs, but is also skilled at scoping your requirements, implementing the solution, ensuring the solution is going to fit with the rest of your business and your plans for the future, and ensuring your people are trained and prepared to adopt their new systems quickly and efficiently, so you can start reaping the benefits as soon as possible.”
According to Panorama Consulting Group’s 2022 ERP Report, organisations that worked with a partner to implement their ERP had fewer budget overruns due to organisational issues, redesign challenges relating to additional technology needs, and data and technical issues.
They also report that those respondents that did not engage a partner experienced lower benefit realisation than those that did work with a partner.
“Business growth isn't about luck; it's the outcome of making our customers more successful, championing innovative thinking, and investing in the best people," says Martin.
“As a partner, Fusion5 is more than just a reseller or implementer. We focus on people, on processes, and on the outcomes that your organisation will value.”