For so many small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the problem with their reporting system is that it’s just not easy for “regular people” to use.
Normal people — folks without pocket protectors or advanced degrees in IT — don’t understand how to manipulate all the dials, switches and levers it takes to crank out the necessary data to make decisions.
So what do regular people use? Excel. With more than a billion Microsoft Office users, it’s safe to say that most businesspeople know how to use, and heavily rely upon, the spreadsheet software. The problem with this is that producing significant business intelligence from this simple program is difficult, at best.
The solution, therefore, is to use an ERP system that is capable of more sophisticated data-crunching, but is as easy to use and is integrated with Excel. Fortunately, cloud ERP solutions out there do just this; they have business intelligence reporting tools that are built-in and based on Excel.
This fact alone can solve so many reporting issues for SMBs. It means the nontechnical user can leverage his or her already-built competencies around Excel formulas to build ad hoc reports. Otherwise, this effort is a tedious process for most people.
Remember, reporting tools that are user-friendly means more people in the company can leverage and prepare reports or build their own. Rather than hiring someone to build reports, users are able to run the reports they need all by themselves, saving time and speeding up decision-making.
The more power you can put in the hands of your employees, the better off they are to support their own decision-making process. If they don’t have to bug the IT guy to pull reports for them, they are empowered and more productive.
Obviously, the similarity with Excel isn’t the only advantage that cloud ERP has for reporting. Using cloud ERP helps SMBs define and follow best practices of all kinds, including these four.
- Standardize accounting and operational business practices: This is critical to improving the integrity and reliability of all reports.
- Conduct a review of all of the “out-of-the-box” reports available with an ERP system: Make sure you review all of these reports on the system that you’re migrating to. See if they can be used to replace an existing report, relieving you of the need to create a custom report.
- Key performance indicators: Many metrics could be used to make adjustments to your business. The obvious considerations are profitability, sales numbers and time to invoice.
- Forecasting: Revenue, capital planning and personnel are important to consider when making plans for the future. Perhaps you have a goal to grow the staff by 10 people or add a new division. Get your finance department to create a bridge to achieve these operational goals. Finance will establish the parameters around the goals, such as a specific percentage of revenue growth to pay for new employees, or capital planning to support a new division.
Most SMBs are made up of “regular people” who are tasked with an ever-increasing number of assignments. They have to wear many hats to keep the business going. The key to success is to have full visibility into your finances. Quality cloud ERP solutions provide SMBs with the power to build the reports they need to achieve this visibility.