Is integration the future of competitive advantage?
For many businesses, a completely integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system sounds like a 'nice to have' but not something that is achievable unless you are prepared to invest heavily. I don't think this is true.
What if I told you that integrating your company’s software into a single streamlined ERP system can create a competitive advantage for your business? It’s not new knowledge that integrated systems improve the collaboration, efficiency, and performance of your team whilst enhancing their interdepartmental capabilities (which we will explain in this article) however, we still see the inefficiencies of many organisations that are stuck with outdated systems that incorporate multiple programs to perform basic business activities.
So, we raise the question:
What are the business benefits of using an integrated ERP system?
Replacing multiple legacy systems for the one integrated system can be a scary thought, especially for those who have maintained the same business practices for years or are sceptical of change.
Drawing from my experience dealing with clients over the years, these are the key reasons why an integrated system can provide you with a competitive advantage.
Advantages of integrated ERP Systems
1 -Single source of truth
Often we see businesses coming to us for help as they're knee-deep in multiple spreadsheets to keep their business running. When I ask them why they haven't consolidated their data into a 'single-source-of-truth' (integrated system), they often say that they don't know how to start.
Having an integrated system enables you to improve your internal processes through utilisation of one source of data, eliminating multiple touch points. While eliminating duplicate manual processes is one side of the argument, utilising an integrated system also ensures that your data is cleansed in the process as your team are working collaboratively on the master data.
Imagine having a single login providing you with the ability to access your information without having to download/upload to a number of different systems.
Now, imagine having all of your reporting capabilities and real-time views of upcoming tasks and objectives. This is all available in a completely integrated ERP system.
One of the biggest benefits of utilising an ERP system is that your single source of truth is available to all staff eliminating barriers.
Another benefit of integrated systems is the shift between departments and onboarding functions make life easy as accessibility is held within the one system.
There is no need to invest in new solutions, worry about licensing costs, implementations, training, etc. everyone has access to everything.
2 - Save time, improve efficiency
An average business could utilise more than 100 different systems to run their business. Although not all can be replaced, consolidating the everyday systems into the one integrated solution will see numerous business benefits.
Not only is there a reduction in costs, but the productivity gains are endless. From implementing a fully integrated system, your business no longer needs independent platforms to carry out your daily tasks. As a result, you have streamlined all of your business operations into one easy to manage/navigate system that improves your business efficiency and performance.
Utilising an integrated system allows you to easily switch between separate tasks eliminating time-consuming back and forth processes. Every business uses multiple programs to carry out their business operations, which require separate login details, licensing costs, training and implementation.
A fully integrated system improves your efficiency and performance by allowing your team to spend more time getting the job done rather than navigating their way through your businesses different software packages
3 - Seamless collaboration
Collaboration from an integrated ERP perspective allows employees, employers, customers and suppliers to easily share required information. Due to rapid advancements in technology and the growth of the Gig Economy, we are seeing more flexible, remote working and mobile business environments.
What makes them successful? Being able to seamlessly collaborate.
Integrated ERP systems enhance inter-department and international collaboration. This means faster response times, no barriers to communication and results in seamless collaboration.
Breaking down bureaucratic organisational work barriers by allowing employees to collaborate from all locations and departments provides all employees with access to the same information in real-time.
A retailer may require x number of jumpers, jackets, and pants and will fill out a purchase order that is received by the supplier almost instantaneously. The purchase order can then be filled, and an invoice can be sent from the supplier to the retailer over the one system with the press of a button. Thus, removing the need for re-saving, re-downloading and re-opening of the invoice and a payment which has to be made on a separate platform.
4 - Reduced Costs
If you utilise multiple systems to manage your business, integrating them into the one platform not only reduces your costs but also makes life easier as you are reducing the number of providers.
Costs that can be reduced:
IT Management and Support Costs
If utilising multiple companies to manage your software and support, the overheads can be large. Having them in the one place is not only easier to manage, but most times will be most cost-efficient.
This is one of the biggest issues in software implementation. Administrative costs and HR costs can be exorbitant if your business has a complex process relying on several, non-integrated systems. Furthermore, if you have a high turnover of staff, your business will run into multiple issues with staff onboarding.
This is an extension of training costs. For example, your employees might make mistakes because they are unfamiliar with the system leading to an over oversupply of your goods in a shipment.
Although the general consensus is that an ‘all in one ERP system’ is going to be more expensive than several third-party systems (which it might be depending on the provider), when you take into account the opportunity costs of managing the additional systems, more often than not you will come out ahead.
Dimitri Margaritis – Head of Client Relations, PNORS Technology Group
Dimitri has held a number of Business Development and Relationship/Account Management roles, primarily within the financial services industry. Dimitri has extensive experience assisting private businesses through to global, ASX listed entities amassing a breadth of experience that Dimitri draws on daily to assist his client’s attain their efficiency aspirations.
Dimitri has an Executive MBA (Monash University) and is a sales professional with a passion for spending time with clients to understand their business needs and working collaboratively to uncover solutions that specifically address clients pain points.