ERP Analytics & Reporting for New Managers
Organizations with cloud-based enterprise resource planning systems can improve their time-to-decision by 46%1, and much of this improvement is facilitated by ERP analytics and reporting tools. Managers who are new to using ERP will need to familiarize themselves with their departments’ dashboards and reporting needs. To gain a broader perspective, it’s helpful to first develop an understanding of the different ways information can be accessed in an ERP system.
Dashboards Provide Snapshot Views
Dashboards are visible from your ERP ‘home’ screen and provide you with visual, interactive and real-time representation of ERP data that is important to you. Typically, the settings on the dashboard are made according to the user or the role they play in the organization. These simple graphs and charts should allow you to drill all the way down to the transactions behind them. With a quick view of your dashboard, you should be able to quickly measure and monitor identified Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to ensure you are on-track in reaching your targets and goals.
What your dashboard should include will of course depend on your role in the organization. A few examples of dashboard snapshots employees may set up include
- Sales dollars by representatives over a time period (such as day, month or YTD)
- Open sales orders
- Open shipments
- Current top 5 products
- Current top 5 customers
Standard Reports You Should Run Regularly
Your ERP should come with a wide range of standard reports. Often these reports draw data from multiple tables in the ERP, which means that running certain reports can impact system performance while the report is being generated. This is why most organizations schedule certain reports to run overnight, with the report then being printed or emailed to identified people as soon as the system has generated it.
Depending on your ERP, reports are often available in numerous formats, such as PDF, Excel and HTML. If you are going to manipulate the data, you’ll want to download it into Excel format. If the information is going to be printed or viewed on-screen, however, you may wish for an HTML or PDF format for easier viewing.
Again, the types of reports you should care about will depend on your goals and role within the organization. If you are a purchasing manager, for example, the Replenishment and Inventory Turnover reports may be important to you. Spend time getting familiar with the reports that are available and are based on the roles you manage.
Custom Reports Answer Harder Questions
Managers frequently bring up questions they’d like to be able to find answers to, and it’s necessary to understand the options in obtaining those answers. There will be times when the ERP does not have a standard report that will answer the questions you need to address. Even if an ERP analytics or report writing tool is available in the system, managers may struggle to understand what data the report is pulling from and what analysis can be achieved from a report.
Most ERP solutions allow for custom reports to be created. Due to the inherent complexity of enterprise software, ERP software providers usually require custom reports and views to be created through a developer or consultant, as this protects the system and prevents problems from occurring with the client’s data.
It’s also important to realize that there are time and resource costs in building custom reports. For the best return on investment, consider the value the custom report will bring to your organization. Some questions to explore include
- What are the data sets the report needs to show, and what variables will need to be changeable?
- What calculations need to be performed on the data as part of running the report?
- How often will this report be run?
- What improvements will my organization achieve thanks to the analysis this custom report provides me?
An ERP consultant can help your organization build new views, processes, reports and print formats, pulling data from multiple tables in your ERP so that you can achieve the insight you need, answer complex questions and solve business problems. Custom reports are best used for the more complicated questions that are custom to your particular business.
Analysis that Drills Down Without a Report
A powerful component of ERP is the ability to view and zoom across from one area in the system to another, while you are entering and updating data. This ability to drill down allows you to be more efficient and effective, making quick decisions based on related data that is already in the system. As you become more comfortable in the ERP, you’ll begin to pick up more ways to view the data your department needs. A couple examples include
- From the sales order window, you may drill down to product movement details
- From a Business Partner record, you may review sales dollars, transaction details, and invoice history
Doing this form of analysis from different windows in the ERP is helpful when you’re in the detail of one record and want to see other information related to that record. This is the power of ERP analytics: as a connected system, you can zoom across from one set of data to another related set.
When to Integrate Business Intelligence Tools
Business Intelligence adds a whole new layer of power to your enterprise, providing deeper analysis of ERP system transactions coupled with both structured and unstructured data sets from other sources outside your ERP. Many ERP systems provide modules or integrations so that best-of-breed BI tools can be utilized. As your organization grows and masters basic ERP reporting functionality, you may be ready to integrate BI tools to your system.
Trek Cloud ERP includes powerful and essential reporting functionality, from dashboards and drill-downs to hundreds of standard reports that can be downloaded in numerous formats to help users achieve their goals. Flexible APIs within Trek Cloud ERP means that the solution also integrates well with business intelligence, analytics and big data software, including such popular tools as Pentaho, Jaspersoft, Hadoop, Birt and others.
Contact us to learn more about Trek Cloud ERP and how it can help your organization become more efficient and profitable.
1Aberdeen Group.SaaS ERP in Wholesale and Distribution: Enabling Communication Across a Wide Network.