Talent [R]evolution

How an ERP consultant can give you back your valuable time

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In today’s rapidly changing e-commerce landscape, maintaining competitiveness and maximising efficiency are crucial for success. One effective way to achieve this is through automation, specifically in enterprise resource planning (ERP) processes. An ERP consultant plays a crucial role in helping organisations implement, optimise and manage their ERP systems. 

Bringing one in to implement automated ERP functions can have a significant impact on the efficiency, accuracy and overall productivity of finance teams in e-commerce businesses. This article will explore the importance of automating ERP processes and how having an ERP consultant on the team can revolutionise financial management in the e-commerce industry. 

What processes does ERP automate?

Enterprise resource planning aims to create a single system that enables communication and flow between several aspects of any business. The most common processes include finance, account management, supply chain and inventory management, project coordination, production, analytics, and workflow management. These systems are applied across industries, from retail to oil and gas.

ERP systems are designed to integrate and streamline these processes and many more besides, providing a centralised and unified platform for managing and automating various aspects of an organisation’s operations. Hiring a freelance ERP consultant can give an organisation of any size a structural approach to implementing an automated ERP. 

One of the first steps an ERP consultant will take is scrutinising the business process, and analysing what areas need automation and how it should be implemented. After this initial analysis, they will decide exactly what processes should be automated by the ERP system. This tailored approach is because not all businesses are equal; there are many factors involved in the decision of what to include in the ERP automation. 

What benefits does ERP bring to a business?

As all businesses are different, the advantages of ERP affect organisations in different ways. Here we list some broad-stroke ways in which an ERP consultant can be a game-changer for various organisations.

  1. Enhanced accuracy and data integrity.

Manual data entry is prone to human error and even a single mistake can have a ripple effect on important financial data. As anyone who’s worked with a large Excel sheet will know, one mistaken entry early on in a column can produce errors in the totals or worse. Scale the issue up to the level of a large business and the risk posed by human data entry error follows suit, with potentially huge ramifications across the whole organisation. 

In fact, errors in data entry have cost billions of dollars to companies yearly. Automating processes through an ERP consultant has the added bonus of freeing the human workforce up to be creative and engage with advanced problem-solving. Computers don’t get distracted like humans, but they can be used efficiently to work alongside us.

Further to these benefits is the security of knowing that all data and processes are contained within a walled garden with an ERP system. There is a lower chance that data will be leaked or compromised and it makes it harder for a hacker to enter into the system to steal data. 

  1. Streamlined financial reporting

In the fast-paced world of e-commerce, keeping track of financial data can become overwhelming for finance teams. Finding an ERP consultant to help design and implement the automation of ERP processes can help streamline reporting and the creation of dashboards. 

An automated ERP system can enable real-time data synchronisation, allowing financial teams to generate up-to-date financial reports with just a click. Whenever there are changes to data or new records of payments and sales, the ERP process can automatically update records in an instant. 

The benefit of this automation is that it can give key stakeholders peace of mind. Safe in the knowledge that financial records are completely correct, without having been exposed to the risks of human error, the work of verifying the data should no longer be necessary. Having this reliable basis of data also means that decision-making can be done with firmer assurance and greater accuracy.  

  1. Improved efficiency and time savings

Manual data entry and repetitive tasks can consume valuable time for finance teams, diverting their attention from more strategic activities. Automating ERP processes eliminates the need for manual processing of routine tasks like invoicing, billing and settling of accounts. As a result, teams can focus on the tasks that need in-depth human involvement and decision-making. Far from AI taking away people’s jobs, it has the potential to enhance what humans are capable of; freeing them up from mundane and repetitive chores. 

For the business, allowing teams to focus on more creative tasks such as financial analysis, forecasting and risk management can cut inefficiencies and improve levels of productivity. In fact, early AI data has shown that its increasing adoption has improved productivity levels by 66%. Hiring a freelance ERP consultant can help businesses find ways to eliminate these inefficiencies. Through an analysis of common company processes, they can find ways to divert valuable human hours to important tasks and automate the humdrum labour.

  1. Enhanced decision-making

Accurate and real-time financial data is essential for informed decision-making. By hiring an ERP consultant to automate processes, finance teams are empowered to make data-driven decisions. Critical information that has been constantly updated in real-time and with a focus on accuracy means teams can respond more quickly to opportunities. With a strong foundation of precise data behind them, they can more rapidly analyse risks in relation to market status and changes. 

The benefit of this speedier decision-making is that e-commerce companies become more competitive. The ability to make decisions faster, to sell a product in a particular way at an attractive price point before anybody else, for example, can give businesses the edge over their competitors. The adoption of automated ERP systems can make the difference by providing accurate data to teams empowered with decision-making.

  1. Strengthened compliance and security

Compliance is extremely important for the e-commerce industry. Compliance helps businesses stay on top of legal and governmental regulations and helps protect the company, its employees and clients. Furthermore, having a focus on compliance means that customers will place greater trust in the company and help maintain a positive public image. Thankfully, employing automated enterprise resource planning processes can help companies bring all their processes up to code, helping to avoid problems down the line. 

Automation of ERP processes can mean greater accuracy with matters of compliance and can ensure that financial operations consistently adhere to industry regulations and internal policies. Moreover, automated ERP systems offer robust security features, protecting sensitive data from breaches and unauthorised access. This not only mitigates potential risks but also builds trust among customers, investors and partners. 

  1. Seamless integration and scalability

Businesses are always looking for ways to expand and grow. An ERP consultant can ensure scalability is on track and done sustainably by setting guidelines and parameters that don’t allow processes beyond a scalability plan to be enacted. For example, if a company wants to make a new acquisition the automated ERP system will first test whether the company can afford to grow in this way in that particular moment. Does the company have the resources of staff and funding available to support such growth? These are some of the practices that automated ERP can solve and can also produce necessary warning systems. 

ERP processes are also designed to seamlessly integrate with various other business systems such as inventory management, order processing and customer relationship management (CRM). This integration across the entire system is what allows the controls around scalability to work properly. The integration promotes collaboration and provides a comprehensive view of the business’s financial health.

ERP automation process
Hiring a freelance ERP consultant can help businesses eliminate inefficiencies.

Do you need an ERP consultant?

As we have discussed, an ERP consultant brings several benefits to a company looking to implement ERP processes. Their level of usefulness depends on the size of the company involved as smaller companies will only need a consultant for a few processes. However, for a large and complex organisation with multiple moving parts, an external freelance consultant is an excellent idea. An ERP consultant can help with:

  • ERP system selection. The different options available can be overwhelming for business owners without expert know-how. Consultants can evaluate different options, explain their features and help determine which best aligns with business goals.
  • Customisation. Not every e-commerce company is identical, or any company in any other industry for that matter. Many businesses have completely different goals and requirements and therefore a consultant can help with the complexities of one business’s needs.
  • Implementation planning. The implementation of ERP processes can be time-consuming and fiddly. Hiring a dedicated consultant on a freelance basis for the implementation can free up managers to continue with their regular tasks and work. Consultants can monitor the progress of the implementation and be best placed to recommend changes when necessary. 
  • Training and change management. ERP processes mean there will be new ways of working for staff. Some of the things they’ll have been working on will now be automated, freeing them up for other tasks. They will also require training on how to monitor the implementation of these tasks and to keep an eye on the automation. Managing this change requires particular expertise and sensitivity to guarantee a smooth transition. 
  • Industry best practices. A dedicated ERP consultant can ensure that a business is in line with best practices enacted throughout the industry. Having this as their expertise means that they will have a wide knowledge of how things have been done elsewhere, and subsequently, can use that experience to help in the implementation of the next project.

ERP automation frees workers up for more creative tasks

As e-commerce businesses continue to thrive in a highly competitive and increasingly digital world, embracing automation in ERP processes is becoming very important if not essential. Increased accuracy, streamlined reporting, improved efficiency and enhanced decision-making all come together to demonstrate how automation can revolutionise the management of all aspects of an enterprise. By arming finance teams with automated tools and systems, businesses pave the way for sustained growth and success while ensuring sustainable scalability. Moreover, compliance, security and data integrity are cornerstone features of ERP processes, furthering a business’s potential to think more creatively and do the work of growth themselves without being tied down to admin. Hiring a freelance ERP consultant is an excellent first step to achieving greater accuracy and work freedom. Book a free consultation with one of our experts to find out more about the expertise you can tap.

Senior Finance Manager specialised in e-commerce and oil & gas.
Finance leader, expert in planning, budgeting, and forecasting, managing cash flow and supplier payments, ensuring compliance and legal obligations, and collaborating with management and operations teams to support business growth and performance. Passionate about optimising business outcomes.

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