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Turning ERP Data Into Actionable Insights

Information is the fuel that powers modern businesses.

At a time when Australian manufacturers face disruption, price competition and supply chain challenges from all directions, reliable data has never been more important.

But businesses are also generating more data than ever, contributing to a potential information overload for managers trying to catch up.

In the right hands, data from the supply chain and production processes can help you:

  • Analyse production costs
  • Identify demand trends
  • Forecast cash flow and production volumes
  • Streamline inventory
  • Identify and alleviate bottlenecks
  • Schedule more efficiently
  • Close more sales
  • Increase customer lifetime value

In other words, data + insight = lower costs and higher productivity.

So if information is fuel for modern manufacturing businesses, then the ability to extract meaningful insights is the accelerator pedal, and you’re the one behind the wheel.

How manufacturers can turn ERP data into actionable insight in 4 steps

1. Start with the business goals

ERP systems are only as useful as the implementation strategy guiding them.

In other words, without clear goals, your team will end up lost in a sea of meaningless data.

Before embarking on an ERP implementation, ensure the project is aiming toward clear operational and financial targets.

Don’t implement an ERP for the sake of implementing an ERP.

Implement an ERP to grow, optimise and improve how you deliver products to customers.

2. Ask the right questions

Use the business goals as the foundation for data collection.

There are hundreds of seemingly interesting data points (if not thousands) available to manufacturers.

Not all will be useful.

Use criteria derived from business goals to filter usable data from noise or nice-to-have numbers.

For example:

  • If you want to grow production, focus on data relating to throughput efficiency, resource capacity, delivery timelines and customer satisfaction
  • If you need to reduce costs, look at inventory data, staff costs, overtime, production bottlenecks, downtime and latent capacity
  • If you want to win new business, use CRM data, defects, cost analyses and forecasting tools to figure out which products customers find valuable

It’s often handy to track complementary data alongside these focus points.

But streamlining your ERP dashboard to present salient information first means you always have the answers available.

3. Collect, combine and compare data

ERPs bring in data from across the business.

Use this simplified, centralised data source to your advantage.

Tracking trends is often more valuable than individual data points.

Different machines, processes, operators and business areas will produce different values with varying degrees of granularity.

Compare these trends to identify patterns in the data.

4. Visualise the data

Data visualisation tools provide an easier way to digest complex data.

Once you understand the story your data is trying to tell, you can use reporting tools and graphic charts to provide feedback on progress towards business goals.

Manufacturing ERP systems like Jobman have built-in tools to generate instant reports using sales, production and financial data.

These tools help manufacturers make the final leap from data to insight.

And they do it on-demand, not at the end of the quarter.

4. Go back to the beginning

With the cleaned, compared and visualised data in hand, go back to step 1.

What do the reports highlight about the business’ progress?

How can you use the information to make better business decisions?

There’s a good chance the answer to these questions will lead to more questions, which is where complementary data comes in handy.

For example, if the data shows output was below expectation last month, you can dig into production data to understand what went wrong.

Or, if overtime is creeping higher, you can use time and attendance data, production metrics, defect analyses and downtime figures to find the wastage.

Transform data into insight with a powerfully simple manufacturing ERP

Without good data, making accurate, insightful decisions and investing in growth tactics that pay off is almost impossible.

Jobman, an ERP for manufacturers and cabinetmakers, provides end-to-end transparency in a single, simplified business management system.

Using Jobman, you can untangle the data puzzle and make better business decisions every day.

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