How to Use ERP Systems

By Dennis Bortolus

Using Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems goes beyond installing software and following directions in a user manual. Organizations that fail to take advantage of ERP capabilities waste the opportunity to improve processing, reporting and data accuracy. Changes should go beyond detailed procedures for entering data to include full business process design across multiple functional areas.

Making the most of an ERP System

Step 1

Standardize business processes and data. ERP systems provide the means to have all applications share a single definition of data, processing rules and format standards. Failure to standardize takes away the biggest benefit of the ERP model.

Step 2

Distribute control of processing to the source of information. ERP allows you to spread data entry and access to all parts of the organization. Data will be more current, accurate and it will be handled once rather than passed from person to person before getting into the system.

Step 3

Utilize work-flow capabilities. ERP systems most often have the ability to automate processes by passing information electronically from one role to another. Transactions that must be touched by multiple users can be forwarded instantly, thus speeding the process of bringing results to customers.

Step 4

Integrate the system with customers and suppliers so they can access and provide information more quickly and accurately. Most ERP vendors have tools that allow external parties to communicate with your system while maintaining data integrity safeguards and security.

Step 5

Utilize analytical tools that let organizations define goals within the transaction system and report actual status against those goals. Because ERP operates with a single data model, reporting requires less effort and more timely results.

Step 6

Re-design your business processes. Using old processes and procedures with a new system is the biggest mistake many customers make. Old processes were most likely designed around the lack of system capabilities. ERP systems have better technology and will allow you to design processes around actual business needs.