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Six tips for evaluating your business processes

15 Aug 11

Today’s competitive marketplace means many medium-sized businesses need to constantly monitor and evaluate their work processes and IT solutions to ensure they meet their business objectives without impeding their own productivity, profitability and growth. 

An ERP ‘Gap Analysis’ can help to highlight the processes and systems that are not performing effectively.  These can include: meeting regulatory requirements, streamlining operations to further improve productivity and profitability, improving decision-making capabilities, enhancing collaboration with business partners, adapting and scaling the business, and growing business globally.

The benefits of conducting an ERP ‘Gap Analysis’ also assist to define best practice, optimise activity and allow control to be taken over all business processes. Automating these processes can improve the accuracy of the information produced, accelerate data flow and streamline day-to-day activities thereby increasing productivity and profitability

Here’s a checklist which will help determine your existing processes and technology solution’s ability to meet current business requirements.  Questions you should be asking include:

1.            Do you need to comply with government regulations?

Does your existing technology integrate the capabilities necessary to improve the organisation’s regulatory compliance, including the need for: lot traceability; audit trails; digital electronic signatures; quality control; document signatures and security and workflow controls and transparency?

2.            Do you need to streamline your operations to improve productivity and profitability?

By automating business processes, which in turn improves accuracy of information and accelerates data flow, an ERP system can help your company streamline day-to-day tasks and free up staff to focus on more complex issues that require more personalised attention. As a result you can improve productivity and dramatically reduce operating and overhead costs. Your ERP should offer benefits that include:

-            A fully integrated set of applications: a system that integrates capabilities from front-end customer-relationship management to back-end financial analytics and business intelligence enabling you to focus on decision making and doing business rather than focusing on the IT infrastructure required to keep disparate applications running and communicating. 

-             A common repository: a place where all the data required by all of your applications and processes is kept giving your employees access to the information they need when they need it making for greater efficiency. 

-             Process orientation: a system which enables processes to evolve naturally over time rather than being orientated to discrete tasks.

3.            Do you need to enhance your decision-making capabilities?

Implementing ERP software that integrates all your information and processes into one coherent environment is a first and major step towards improved decision making. Does your current ERP offer critical BI capabilities including integrated BI, integrated CRM, enhanced visibility, easy-to-use, reporting, and security?

4.            Do you need to collaborate with partners?

As market conditions fluctuate and competitive pressures increase, you may need to team with multiple geographic partners and rely on contract manufacturing and third-party logistics providers. Do your existing IT systems support collaboration with partners? Do they have capabilities that include: a web-native platform, automated workflows, Web 2.0 capabilities and security?

5.            Do your processes and systems adapt and scale with your business?

Are your technology solutions flexible? Are they scalable so they support your business today, but can accommodate your needs and requirements in the future? They should have configurable workflows, multi-site support and customisation features. 

6.            Are you planning to grow your business globally?

If you plan to operate your business outside New Zealand, will your systems support international operations including: global currencies, multiple languages and global regulatory requirements?

Whilst every business is different, an ERP Gap Analysis Checklist can help you identify key issues your business may face, and determine whether the systems and technology in place have the capabilities to meet your current and future needs.  It can be performed either by management internally or by hiring an ERP consultant to perform an in-depth evaluation of current workplace systems and IT solutions and their effectiveness in meeting the company’s strategic goals.

Mike Lorge is managing director of Sage Business Solutions. Go here for more. 

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