Forget about artificial intelligence and the future of business for a minute, and let’s focus on where the machines can help businesses today with manual tasks via better ERP automation.
Every department and specialization within the enterprise has routine, manual, and cumbersome tasks that can be transformed for greater efficiency through automation. Yet many automation opportunities go unexploited.
With better automation, businesses can allocate human capital more efficiently and enable employees to focus on higher-value tasks. They can cut down on human errors, one of the biggest areas for potential business process breakdowns. They can streamline processes. Businesses also can do more with less effort.
Many firms are not fully taking advantage of automation, though. So here are five areas your company should be automating today if it hasn’t done so already.
Most CFOs would agree that the top line of their firm’s income statement, revenue, is a key factor for the business. Yet studies have shown that firms experience up to 5 percent revenue leakage each year.
This leakage often comes from invoicing and sales order errors in the form of invoices that don’t get sent, transposition mistakes, and data entry went wrong.
These tasks are ripe for ERP automation, as they are simple processes that can easily be automated to reduce human error and increase reliability. Automation in this area can have a significant financial impact.
“ERP automation is most important in cases where manual entry can be eliminated,”. He suggests automation around sales order creation with customer terms, pricing, discounts, ATP Dates, etc.
Automation is not just about workflow. Consider communication automation as an area ripe for significant efficiency gains.
“Social ERP is an item that has recently been introduced in the last couple of years, but is still not widely used; people are still trying to figure out how to use it,” notes
Many businesses are missing the power that social ERP can provide in the form of automated communications of routine notifications.
“An example is sales reps being notified of orders being shipped,”. “Instead of having to use workflow to build an automated process that fits every sales rep to be notified on each of their customers/orders, having the ability to simply subscribe to an order or customer and be notified is very powerful.”
For all the dashboards and report automation functionality available today, there still is a lot of manual financial report generation going on. This is a missed opportunity.
“One area that is not as automated as it can be is the executive level,”. “Executives fall back on relying on business analysts or finance to generate and distribute reports. Then the executive has to take the time to analyze these reports and find the issues.”
By implementing automation into the report generation and distribution process, management can instead spend more time on high-value tasks and the big picture.
“By being able to automate business processes such as weekly or daily financial reports,” says Betsy Bland, vice president of financial management products for ERP maker, Workday, “resources can be realigned to more value-add projects like identifying new technologies to invest in or evaluating new ways to improve employee and customer experiences.”
Again getting back to foundational principles, anywhere that is customer-facing is a good place to start when it comes to ERP automation. Customers are where businesses make money, and automation can play a key role in accurate and timely delivery and provisioning of products and services.
“This is usually the best place to achieve ROI with automation: customer satisfaction and user acceptance,” says Stein at SYSPRO USA. “Being able to provide accurate and timely quotes, products and services have shown to be where you achieve the biggest bang for the buck and growth for a company.”
So when evaluating tasks that your business can automate, focus on automation that smooth the customer experience and reduce friction with product and service delivery.
ERP is built for improving efficiency with MRP. Let your ERP system handle more of the workload through intelligent rules and automation you’ve set up in the system. This might take a little more work up front, but it is worth the effort.
“Most MRP activities can be automated, so create the settings you can trust, then trust the systems,”
Verify your MRP automation through reporting tools, though, of course.
Overall, it is about letting the machines do the manual labor. There’s a lot of buzz around AI right now, and that will unquestionably shake up business. But before we rely on AI, there is plenty of less intelligent tasks that computers can perform for us today. Most businesses aren’t taking advantage of the computer workforce it already has today in the form of ERP automation.