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How to Optimize Your ERP Reporting Quickly and Easily

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insightsoftware is a global provider of reporting, analytics, and performance management solutions, empowering organizations to unlock business data and transform the way finance and data teams operate.

ERP reporting

Why is ERP reporting so important? Because, as the saying goes, the past is prologue. Analyzing ERP data empower 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 ERP 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 with proceeding with reporting as usual.

Use these five 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 ERP 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 ERP reporting after implementing Hubble and saw immediate time savings. A report that once took a warehouse manager with 20 years of experience up to four hours to complete now takes just eight seconds. So much time is saved simply because the ERP reporting tool is intuitive enough for anyone to use.

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 them from one document to another, and making the time-consuming effort to organize them in a way that presents a clear portrait of performance. Advanced automation expedites this effort by automatically pulling live data from ERP systems and other platforms, then plugging them into pre-made ERP 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 percent 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. ERP 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.

4. Plan for Business Continuity

After the unexpected, from a natural disaster to a global pandemic, quality ERP reporting becomes essential. Decision makers need quality, updated information immediately, but the same conditions that make it important can also make it inaccessible. ERP reporting should work in good times and in bad, offering the same robust capabilities even if users are working outside the office and deviating from the standard workflows.

Midwest Property Management began using Spreadsheet Server to save time on ERP reporting and was pleased to recover 75+ hours in the process. The company especially appreciated those time savings when COVID-19 hit. The reporting process didn’t miss a beat and even rose to the occasion, supplying decision makers with high-level insights as they navigated through an unprecedented situation.

5. Set Higher Standards

After years of cumbersome, time-consuming ERP reporting, some accountants have concluded it’s always going to be a chore. That, in turn, leads to complacency about the length of reporting cycles and the quality of the insights generated. Instead of accepting the underwhelming, start to see a better approach as not just possible but essential. Technology enables it. More urgently, disruptive forces and unpredictable markets make top-notch ERP reporting absolutely imperative right now. Once CFOs, accountants, and decision makers throughout the enterprise start to agree, ERP reporting improves faster than expected.

Infigen Energy, an Australian utility company, decided it required faster ERP reporting and settled on Atlas as the solution. Afterward, reporting required 60 percent less input overall while slashing the amount of time IT spent on reporting by 75 percent. Serious improvements were not just possible but well within reach, but first, the company had to admit they were necessary.

Quality reporting is a product of quality data, which is exactly why the process is so slow. Data are an unruly asset that requires an incredible effort to manage, secure, and leverage. As data volumes grow, ERP 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 can provide solutions. Contact us to have an honest and illuminating conversation about ERP reporting.