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*Sponsored Content* From bean counting to boardroom strategy – 3 benefits of moving to an ERP system

Is your data delivering information or is it just data?

By Lyall O’Carroll, of Seidor Bluekey

Each year, the SME Survey is released by SME Survey (Pty) Ltd. In 2018, the survey focused on accounting functions and the future role of accountants. Conducted among 1,400 SME decision makers, data showed that despite SMEs being traditionally slow to adopt new technologies there will likely be a radical adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) over the next few years. In fact, 83% of these decision-makers said they would be using IoT in their businesses within the next five years.

Principal researcher of the survey, Arthur Goldstuck, noted that SME decision-makers will generally embrace a new technology if there is a clear business case to do so. He specified that only technologies that directly benefit SMEs, by helping to save money or increase profits through increased efficiencies, are likely to be adopted.

This value-driven approach, coupled with the fact that finance roles are becoming increasingly strategic and digital, makes a solid business case for SMEs for the adoption of an SME specific integrated business system that steps beyond traditional accounting systems.

Effective integrated systems provide finance teams with a holistic view of critical management information and data to help determine the strategic direction of the business.

So, when looking at a traditional accounting-only package vs an integrated ERP, what are some of the key benefits that finance teams, across all seniority levels, can experience?

Governance and audit trail

An ERP system like SAP Business One allows businesses to monitor key performance indicators, comply with industry regulations and make data-driven decisions simultaneously within a single platform. The system offers a central database that delivers functions into the entire business and gives teams a 360-degree view into data that is relevant to their specific job role. SAP Business One offers advanced cash flow management with intelligent and intuitive forecasting. When it comes to monitoring KPIs it offers detailed analytics and access to indicators, making the monitoring of KPIs simple and accurate.

Grow and protect the margin

To successfully grow and protect the margin and profits of a business, the intricate understanding of costs is key, especially in a fragile economic climate. A reputable ERP provides detailed insights into costs with full analysis and reporting that includes historical pricing and the management of budgets between departments, users and managers – all in real time. It helps staff contextualise go-to-market strategies through profit analysis and projection tools – allowing them to plan using detailed actuals vs budget tracking. A good ERP essentially gives those who need insight, up-to-date information and analysis and thereby the ability to not only be more accurate, but also do more in less time.

Manage and reduce ongoing spend

Often assets are the biggest capital outlay for SMEs. Smaller businesses face greater risk when it comes to management and maintenance of these assets due to resourcing or time constraints. When is a good time to invest in new equipment? At which point do the maintenance costs outweigh costs of buying new? And, a very relevant one for South African businesses, should we, and do we have the capital to buy a generator? An ERP system offers key insight into CAPEX or OPEX spend, asset management and maintenance through purchase analysis reporting, contract management, fixed asset registries, depreciation tracking, as well as maintenance and repair management (ultimately reducing downtime and reducing wastage).

An ERP solution is an integrated system of multiple moving parts that all feed back to the strategic management of a business. For those willing to look past the stigma’s attached to ERP, and move beyond basic accounting systems, the potential for reward and growth is very attractive and a very real possibility.