Still standing? But don’t know exactly where?

by Joel Mikkelsen

Glad to see you here, it’s been a tough ride.

So, as you shake off the dust and despair, do you know what sort of shape you’re in?

Why I’m asking is because we’re talking to lots of businesses who have come out the other side of Covid-19, but are struggling to know where they’re at from a business perspective. And you’d have to wonder why, in a world where information is power, they don’t have the data they need at their fingertips.

Welcome to the world of restrictive, retrospective reporting

For businesses using a wide variety of different systems, trying to generate even the simplest of reports is a challenge.

For starters, they need to export the information they need for the report/s from multiple systems (think HR, inventory, financials, CRM etc.), and then manually pull it together using Excel. After an accuracy audit, it’s then turned into an Excel report. The problem with this process is that it takes time. And for businesses who are actively striving to keep their heads above water, time is a luxury they just don’t have. Should they want to add in different or new data to get a more current perspective from the report, it’s rinse and repeat, virtually from scratch.

With data dispersed amongst a range of systems, rather than sitting in one place, reports are slow, labour intensive and error prone. Getting a real-time understanding of what’s going on (in the market and the business), is just about impossible. No sooner are the reports (finally) created, than they’re out of date. And without accurate, up-to-the-minute reporting to support decision-making, it doesn’t bode well for any business’ ability to react and recover with speed.

A breath of fresh air. Responsive, rapid, real-time reporting

On the other side of the Covid-19 fence are those running modern, vertical, cloud-based business suites. These fully integrated solutions come with in-built best practices and usually include hundreds of out-of-the-box reports which furnish people with information which sometimes they didn’t even know they needed!

Their reports all run in real-time. They create dashboard snapshots to show on workers desktops (by role and responsibility). Every time a user returns to the main screen, it refreshes their data. There’s no waiting for the finance team to pull the data together and email it out.

The dashboard data is immediate, current, and live. And if any figure looks incorrect, it just takes a single click to see the source transaction and understand what’s causing the anomaly.

Back to the disconnected and discontented!

I started off talking about the businesses who, because they’re unable to understand where they’re up to now, have little idea of where to next.

They don’t know if they should invest in new stock or sit tight. Or where to focus their business efforts to maximise their recovery. They can’t quickly identify which customers are doing well, and those who have dropped way down below their regular monthly spend and require careful nurturing. And if customer spending is down, where to roll out the marketing initiatives for the greatest ROI.

Companies who cannot generate a good snapshot of all the areas of the business, from sales, to marketing, to procurement, to distribution, limit their capability to decide ‘where to from here’.

Without real-time visibility, and with information spread across a range of business systems, they find it difficult to report on the metrics need to make responsive and responsible decisions. In these situations, it’s easy to understand why businesses with disconnected systems are feeling lost. Trying to get a timely and true overview of what’s going on in their business is virtually impossible.

The value of visibility and agility

We often talk about agility and how important it is for businesses to capitalise on rapidly changing opportunities and business landscapes.

If you have a system that’s reporting data to you in real-time, you can see what’s happening in your business and decide what next - also in real-time. When you can see the entire picture of your business, good and bad, you can de-risk the decision-making processes.

The alternative is to go on instinct. Like completely pivoting your business and the products or services you sell based on a news article you read on market trends (true story!).

In summary

Businesses that can pull accurate and relevant transactional information from their database (singular) and run reports to identify market trends can make their decisions based on actual, not speculative data.

Businesses with flexible, fully integrated cloud-based systems and real-time visibility have a stronger fighting chance than those who are still figuring out where they even stand in this brave new world.

For those businesses who entered lockdown with poor financial health, or who were dependent on sectors which collapsed during the pandemic (like tourism and travel), I’m sorry. There’s probably not much that will help apart from a passion to rebuild or focussing on servicing a different or new-look industry.

A cloud ERP will not protect you from a disrupted market, but it gives you the ability to take advantage of other opportunities as they arise. And now could be an excellent time to make that move.

Joel Mikkelsen

Joel joined the Fusion5 team this year from being a NetSuite guru at a smaller NetSuite partner site. Brisbane loyal, he is passionately driven to see the best come forward from business solutions and innovation. 

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