Operational excellence: Why ERP has a large role to play in delivering stellar UX
Ultimately, the goal of operational excellence is to enhance performance levels across a business to ensure that customer expectations are met on an ongoing basis. In other words, continuously improving the processes by which a business operates.
As a business owner, you’re keenly aware of how customer satisfaction impacts on your company’s growth and sustainability.
Key to enabling this is the business software / ERP system you use to run your business.
Below we highlight why your ERP system has a large role to play in delivering a user experience that facilitates operational excellence. You can then appreciate if your ERP solution is enhancing or hindering operational excellence in your business.
We will also point out the practical ways in which modern ERP solutions can deliver stellar UX for, not only your customers, but your employees and suppliers too.
Operate with one source of truth
Every team in your business has their own priorities, goals and touchpoints with your customers. But if they are operating with a fragmented view of your customer information via multiple tools and systems, you’ll find it difficult to achieve operational excellence.
An ERP solution that provides a centralised database ensures a seamless flow of real-time information, controls and workflows across all business departments, branches and online sales. Customer information is saved in one place. Individual teams will have access to the data that pertains to them and be able to work with it to make informed decisions.
Plus collaboration between teams, a critical component for improving operational efficiency, planning accuracy and transparency, is greatly enhanced.
Nowadays, running your entire business via your ERP system alone is easily achievable thanks to modern ERP solutions that include integrated business intelligence, CRM and industry-specific functionality.
However, if your business uses a ‘best-of-breed’ application to run a certain area of your business, you shouldn’t have to compromise your goal of operating with one source of the truth.
Integrating 3rd party applications with modern ERP solutions is now easier than ever. RESTful API technology facilitates integration projects quicker and much more cost effectively than ever before.
This allows your business to access niche solutions that advance your strategic or operational objectives in a way that complements your ERP solution. You retain UX goals of information transparency, collaboration and data accuracy without any of the compromises.
Continuously improve your user experience (UX)
Traditional ERP systems have often been considered complex and difficult to run and learn. ERP vendors today put more emphasis on delivering solutions that offer greater flexibility and ease of use. Not only does this further improve the benefits and ROI of your ERP system but provides a high degree of usability, value, usefulness and accessibility to your users.
For instance, with modern ERP systems every view, screen, menu, alert etc can be easily personalised per user to provide access only to the controls and information needed to efficiently carry out tasks.
KPI dashboards and control desks can quickly and easily be customised to optimise and simplify tasks. And role-based security policies allow for tight, and easily managed, access control.
Combining an ethos of continuous improvement with a focus on user experience (UX), this level of ‘code-less’ personalisation empowers you to implement incremental improvements to your ERP solution on an ad-hoc basis.
Your ERP solution becomes a pro-active support to your business versus the traditional, static role it previously played where any amendments had to be fed back to the ERP vendor. ERP software that can’t be moulded to your users’ individual requirements just won’t cut it in today’s competitive environment.
ERP places your customer in the front and centre of your business
In any business, the customer is the lifeblood. For merchants, retailers and wholesale/distribution companies, who have experienced disruption to their industries due to ecommerce, this message hits home even more.
No matter how many different departments or branches you have, everyone needs to be focused on your customer. And many businesses truly do intend to serve their customers to the best of their abilities.
However, disparate systems for warehouse management, finance, business intelligence, trade counter, CRM, ecommerce etc. make it difficult to offer the kind of customer service that delights.
Your ERP solution contributes hugely to the UX your customers can expect from your business. With the right fit ERP/business management system, customers benefit as much as your back-office staff and functions. This is due to the 360-degree insights available to them across your supply chain. Real-time tracking, fully integrated trade counter systems and more efficient (and automated) workflows mean enhanced order fulfilment.
Modern ERP systems also provide more control and autonomy to rule by exception. This pushes the right information to the right people in the right format to your users. All to make it easier and quicker for your staff to better serve your customers.
Think about the practical applications this has across your teams:
- Instead of your various teams having to search for information in different places, your ERP solution should be configured to ensure all of the information and functionality your users require to optimally serve your customers is accessed via one screen. Users can personalise any screen or view for the data they need to drive maximum efficiency. Plus information is coming to them in a format they require e.g. text alerts, email etc, based on rules and conditions you set up in your system. Better still, mobile apps provide a personalised mobile work tool that gives your employees 24/7 access to view and capture relevant business information in real-time.
- A buyer in your procurement team will be able to anticipate when to order more stock or discontinue lines. And making these decisions won’t take long periods of deliberation and multiple meetings. Instead, they can be made in real time based on the up-to-date data your buyer has at their fingertips. This ensures your company is always offering the stock your customers want, when they want it.
- A rep in your sales team should be able to rely on your ERP solution to help them identify deep insights into your customers’ behaviour and purchasing history. They should be able to pull inventory data and customer history with ease, even when not in the office.
Using these insights, they can personalise the products and services your company offers to your clients.
Put the benefits of technology to work for you
Digital technologies are rapidly transforming the way industries conduct business. They bring disruption. And we acknowledge the changes many industries are having to adapt to.
But as new digital technologies enter the market, accompanied by huge expectations of achievable performance gains, it is very easy to get sucked into the hype.
When it comes to a UX-centric future and achieving operational excellence, your first step must be to review your current systems and platforms. But more importantly, the ERP system running your business.
- Does it give you the autonomy and control to continuously improve business processes across your business?
- Is it enabling you to automate the countless mundane and repetitive tasks that your users undertake on a daily basis?
- Can you tailor screens, menus, dashboards, workflows for your end users so that they can carry out their role as seamlessly and efficiently as possible?
- Are you able to answer customer queries on the spot with relevant, accurate information at your fingertips?
- Do you have real-time accurate visibility of company, department and user KPI’s and mechanisms in place to ensure process or KPI deviations are responded to?
These are all things that can be easily achieved using today’s modern ERP systems. If your system doesn’t facilitate this level of flexibility, then it could be costing you in lost sales and opportunities. And it’s certainly going to impact your goal of achieving operational excellence.
Get your ERP system right and only then can you evaluate additional industry-specific technologies that will enable you to drive performance and productivity in your organisation.
And as noted previously, when sourcing any new technologies, it’s important to integrate them with your ERP solution to ensure that the gains you hoped to reap are not lost by creating an information silo operating outside your main ERP solution.
Supporting a culture of continuous improvement
Your ERP solution is a powerful start to building a culture of operational excellence within your organisation.
But it’s important to review it annually to ensure that it continuously meets your commercial goals, helps your staff to be productive and delights your customers.
On an ongoing basis, take the time to review your processes. Identify those that could be improved. Get input from your staff (they are the ones on the front-line after all). Find out what they would like your systems to do. And make incremental changes regularly.
Thanks to the support of a robust ERP solution, this is all possible. At its most distilled, having the functionality an ERP system gets the right information delivered to the right users at the right time. It helps you take the noise out of your business and keep your team focused on tasks that matter and can drive growth and scalability.
Offering an enhanced UX to your users automatically benefits your customers. Back it up with a tangible commitment to operational excellence and your business can reach stellar heights.