ERP systems give great structure to a business, but they used to have a reputation for being inflexible and even old-fashioned. But that was then... and this is now. The latest generations of integrated management solutions are designed for digital and bring agility to the whole business. We'll tell you how.
The evolution of ERPs towards agility of a business is following the natural course of history. You're sure to have noticed that today's companies need to be fast on their feet, which involves speeding up quite a few internal processes. These processes involve, for example, fluid access and circulation of data, automation of manual tasks that have no added value, and dynamic analysis for rapid, informed decision making. It is also necessary to be able to demonstrate agility to clients, particularly via online services. Because the ERP is at the heart of the management of a company and its projects, it's not surprising that it has adapted and become agile, otherwise it would find itself on the way out.
Furthermore, when you really think about it, how can a company be agile if it's not managed in an agile way, including the use of an agile ERP system? You'll never get to be a gymnast if your spine's as stiff as a broomstick! The move to a new-generation ERP makes even more sense when a company has begun to introduce agility on a massive scale within its own organisation and in its relationship with clients. Services, billing and payments, purchases, subscriptions, renewals... Everything is done online and clients have got used to this. The rest (the back office) has to follow and the company is forced to introduce agility internally too. The whole information system needs to evolve in depth as ERP software publishers well know.
ERP software brings the expected agility on every front.
Let's take a few examples. The trend these days is not only to sell a product, but a service too. Which is why, in many businesses undergoing digital transformation, invoicing per service or a pay-as-you-go billing structure is replacing the product-oriented model. In the consulting and engineering sectors, companies are moving from billable hours mode to project-based billing. In the case of mergers and acquisitions, it is now possible to pool client databases, supplier databases and product catalogues to take advantage of cross-selling. The agile ERP has become the management tool of choice in these situations - from changes in business models to new invoicing methods, via company takeovers or the redesign of analytical management. It's a sure sign of a move towards agility.
This agility can also be found in new models for the provision of ERP software. Although an integrated management solution can still be hosted on the company's servers, nowadays, it is also available online on a pay-as-you-go basis. Simple, effective = agile too.
What features does an agile ERP system offer?
With an increasingly transversal and exhaustive functional scope, the ERP brings together all the data, workflows and processes at every level of a project and the commercial, operational and financial aspects are managed in real time. It runs through the CRM, sales and the client and supplier extranets. In house, its use is widening to include training, connection to the intranet and collaborative tools. Its secret is APIs, the communication interfaces that improve the tool by connecting it to other software or online services. Once these APIs are connected, they increase the interoperability of the tool. Thus, the ERP has become the keystone of the simplification and acceleration of processes throughout the business.
Naturally, the financial function becomes more effective with new capacities. By dematerialising financial records (invoices, payments, cut-offs...), the modern ERP frees it from difficult to maintain systems. It is also the tool that ensures the consistency of information via a unique frame of reference, so there's no longer any need to reconcile the data from each source. The ERP harmonises reporting from all departments and offers a system of centralised dashboards with dynamic zooms. The CFO and their team have the means to analyse past performance and estimate future performance. They can measure, anticipate and act. In other words, The latest generation of ERPs helps them to understand the business in detail and manage it in real time.
As you can see, the ERP now extends throughout the company ecosystem and to clients and suppliers. As such, it is now part of the user experience as perceived by clients. Which is why the agility that it offers to all, contributes to a positive image of the company and better business management.