Why is ERP reporting so important? Because, as the saying goes, the past is prologue. Analyzing ERP data empowers companies to develop proactive plans, future forecasts, and sophisticated strategies. At least it could, in theory.

A wealth of data demonstrates that financial reporting creates as much confusion as clarity:

The bad news is that without careful, comprehensive, and consistent reporting, companies can’t act confidently and could be making risky decisions without even recognizing it. The good news is that optimizing ERP reporting is not as difficult as many expect, especially compared to continuing with reporting as usual. Use these three strategies to make ERP reporting quick and easy while producing reports filled with clarity and certainty.

1. Enable Self-Service Reporting

Accessing a report often requires users to submit a request to IT and wait in a queue until it’s available. Users have to rely on tech experts because it’s so difficult to work with the underlying data. Self-service reporting is designed to be intuitive enough for non-technical users with minimal training. This type of reporting is less about carefully organizing information and more about defining parameters, the difference between hours and minutes.

Retail-services company Havelock enabled self-service reporting after implementing Hubble and saw immediate time savings. A report that used to take a warehouse manager with 20-years experience up to four hours to complete now takes just eight seconds. So much time is saved simply because the reporting tool is intuitive enough for anyone to use.

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2. Replace Manual Inputs with Automation

Reporting on finance as well as operations across multiple departments requires a large-scale data organization effort. Much of the workload involves tracking down data from disparate sources, moving it from one document to another, and making the time-consuming effort to organize it in a way that presents a clear portrait or performance. Advanced automation expedites this effort by automatically pulling live data from ERP systems and other platforms, then plugging it into pre-made report templates for instant analysis.

Blinn College was struggling to manage manual inputs before adding Spreadsheet Server to its reporting tool kit. Now the institution is spending 60% less time on reporting. Instead of managing information, Blinn College can act on insights.

3. Build Flexibility Into the Process

Reporting is a regular obligation that evolves each time. Relying on the same reports over and over leads to stale performance management, yet creating custom reports takes extra time and input from IT. Reporting becomes less rigid when it’s easy to track different metrics, recontextualize reporting data, drill down from reports into transactional data, and access real-time updates on demand.

Bassett Furniture took advantage of tailor-made reports once it implemented Spreadsheet Server to run along with its JD Edwards ERP. Customization was easy, and it enabled users to generate reports in under an hour instead of upwards of a day. For Bassett, speed improved at the same time that reporting became more relevant than ever before.

Quality reporting is a product of quality data, which is exactly why the process is so slow. Data is an unruly asset that requires an incredible effort to manage, secure, and leverage. As data volumes grow, reporting will only lag behind further and cause companies to wait when they really need to act. Instead of accepting this as a foregone conclusion, look for solutions that make data as accessible as possible through automation.

If you have reporting challenges, insightsoftware is happy to provide solutions. Contact us to have an honest and illuminating conversation about ERP reporting.

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