The CFO's 6-Point Plan for Optimizing ERP Reporting


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Thursday, July 21, 2022

Enterprise resource planning software can play a crucial part in the performance of your business, but to make the most of it, you need to be sure your reporting is up to scratch.

Article 5 Minutes
The CFO's 6-Point Plan for Optimizing ERP Reporting

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) can make a major difference to the performance of your business by enabling more efficient integration and management of your most important functions.

Specialist software applications dedicated to this task can help you achieve benefits such as:

  • Higher efficiency through more effective use of resources
  • Easier sharing of data and communication between different departments
  • Consistency across key business processes and practices
  • Better understanding of how vital aspects of your company are performing

While the advantages of ERP are clear, to get the best out of it you also need to be ready for some of the associated challenges, such as managing the large amounts of data your software will generate.

Make sure you're prepared for this with a clear, step-by-step plan for ERP reporting.

1. Prioritize reporting when choosing ERP software

If efficient and reliable reporting will be one of your top priorities where ERP is concerned, it's important to bear this in mind when selecting a software option for your business.

Vendors might claim their product offers high-end reporting capabilities and other features to facilitate data collection and analysis, but before committing to a purchase, you should feel confident it's well-suited to your needs.

If you're given the chance to conduct a trial of the software before fully licensing it, make the most of the opportunity to test as many of its features as possible and see how it handles the sort of tasks you'll be using it for.

2. Understand the needs of key stakeholders

ERP, by its very nature, encompasses a range of teams, departments and processes across your organization. Your reporting process therefore needs to be broad and flexible enough to meet the needs of various parties with differing goals and priorities.

Executives and senior management, for example, might be looking for targeted reporting and analytics to formulate a detailed picture of business performance and inform key strategic decisions. Employees who specialize in a particular function, on the other hand, will want to see area-specific reports that help them to be more efficient and productive in their roles.

Knowing what particular teams and individuals within your company need from ERP reporting will help you build a foundation on which to base your subsequent actions and decisions.

3. Create a picture of your data requirements and strategy

The understanding of stakeholder requirements that you've already established will help you develop a framework that organizes and represents different data demands across various departments.

This will encompass a number of business domains, processes and reporting priorities, which could involve some unique approaches and quirks where data is concerned. However, it can prove highly beneficial to strive for a level of consistency in how distinct teams use data and what's expected of them with regards to ERP reporting.

Learn more: How Storytelling Can Make Your Financial Reports More Compelling

4. Provide dedicated user training

If ERP reporting is a relatively unknown concept to some people within the business - or you're implementing entirely new software to facilitate the process - make sure you're also providing the necessary training to help users hit the ground running as soon as the system is operational.

Failing to support employees in using your ERP software properly could lead to various problems that jeopardize efficiency and results, such as fundamental errors in your data or a sudden influx of requests to the IT department.

One approach that can yield positive outcomes is to assign particular members within each team to take the lead on ERP reporting and promote best practices to their colleagues.

5. Facilitate self-service reporting

A key advantage you can gain from ERP software is the option for departments to take a 'self-service' approach to reporting. Rather than putting in a request to IT and waiting for a response, users who have received the appropriate training can access the system themselves to extract the data and insights they need.

This unlocks an array of benefits, including more autonomy for business units and individual employees, less time spent waiting for information and reduced pressure on the IT department.

Furthermore, self-service reporting makes it possible for the finance team to take on a more significant role than simply managing and distributing reports. Your focus can shift to higher-value tasks such as examining how ERP reporting aligns with your organizational strategy and reflects the current status of the company.

6. Put appropriate governance and controls in place

Like any essential business practice, ERP reporting should be backed up by effective governance and controls to ensure it's meeting the required standards and not exposing you to any unnecessary risk.

Where data security is concerned, for example, it's vital to make sure you have clearly defined roles, a hierarchy of responsibilities and a system for managing user access to certain reports and information.

Governance could also oversee the use of standard reporting processes for key business reviews and the elimination of legacy or inefficient reporting methods.

With these structures and systems in place, you can be confident that your ERP software will deliver high-quality data and actionable insights.

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Join the conversation...

27/09/2022 Michele McLainMorgan
Interested in hearing/learning more. Is there a specific version of ERP (PeopleSoft) the information is tailored around?