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The Benefits of Real-time ERP Reporting in Manufacturing

Jan 13, 2019
Manufacturing and Distribution

By Zoey Czech

The Benefits of Real-time ERP Reporting in Manufacturing

Is anything more frustrating than opening up a program on your computer to pull a routine report, only to be reminded that you need to issue an IT support ticket with a 24-hour turnaround? It’s especially frustrating when you know the data is in there somewhere; you just don’t have the programming capability to write the code to extract it. Meanwhile, you’re faced with month-end deadlines and a CEO who’s expecting answers to help him make an important and time-sensitive business decision. 

This scenario isn’t all that uncommon in many manufacturing facilities. A system that may have been sufficient a few years ago may now be outdated and unable to scale with your organization’s current demands. 

Modern Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are much more intuitive and user-friendly than those of the past, meaning you won’t have to rely on someone else to get the data you need in the format you need it. These capabilities result in the following benefits:

Timely and Easy Reporting 

Robust ERP systems are all-in-one platforms designed for modern enterprises that need powerful reporting capabilities to provide an accurate view of their operations in real time. An average manufacturer won’t require additional plugins or software, helping to mitigate risks of redundancies and incompatibilities, and ensuring your business data resides in a single source. 

Built-in capabilities won’t require programming knowledge, technical resources or business intelligence tools to run reports. As an example, the extensive number of pre-programmed saved searches and reports that come standard with the Netsuite ERP platform are sufficient for most organizations and may only need minor modifications during initial setup to accommodate manufacturers’ needs. You set the criteria and how you wish to review the results and you won’t have to recreate the report every time. 

Summary-level and transaction-level data are easily accessible for users because they can configure personalized dashboards with just the reports and searches their roles require. Advanced search filters and dashboard display options show users data in the format that works best for them. Reports can still be shared among multiple users, and access can be restricted to only those who need to see them. 

Real-time Data to Inform Business Decisions

Having access to up-to-the-minute data is a major advantage in today’s fast-paced manufacturing settings. If you have to submit a request and wait overnight to get a report, the data will likely be outdated by the time it ends up in your hands. Informed business decisions can only be made with accurate, real-time data.

While reporting capabilities are most often realized from a financial or operational standpoint, other areas in the organization also benefit from real-time access to data. On the shop floor, for example, integrated real-time capacity data can indicate whether a particular workstation is running behind, which would affect orders down the line. If plant managers don’t know about the variance until the next day, the entire production schedule could be compromised, and the snowball effect that production delays have on inventory, shipping, materials handling, and other functions can leave many departments scrambling to resolve the issues. 

Your sales team also benefits from real-time reporting. While in the field, a salesperson often needs to know how much inventory is on hand to fill orders. If that inventory data isn’t current, he or she could oversell or undersell based on inaccurate results. Likewise, knowing potential issues with capacity or production problems can inform decisions about promised deliveries and more. 

Alerts and Automation 

Reminders can be displayed on a user’s dashboard or automatically send alerts through email. For example, a saved search can be created to show how many purchase orders are awaiting approval and alert the purchasing manager of tasks that are required to process the orders. If an order isn’t on time, a dashboard indicator can highlight it in yellow so you can follow up on it. 

Invoice due dates can vary, so the system can identify those due dates and issue reminders. Likewise, if a vendor is late on a payment, the system can alert you to follow up. You can run a saved search and filter invoices by due date, vendor, amount, number of days late and more to help you prioritize further action. Email alerts are especially helpful if a user does not need access to the ERP but wants to review report data. 

Modern Manufacturing Requires Modern Technology 

The efficiencies created with today’s ERP systems save time, reduce errors, and give real-time insights into how your business is really doing. That means you’re able to make more informed decisions based on accurate information that can give you a competitive advantage.

If you’d like to learn more about migrating your old system to a new, highly functional ERP, such as Netsuite, reach out to the experts at Wipfli. We’ll help you identify which reports and search features will be most useful to you and help configure dashboards for your users so you can maximize operational efficiencies.

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