How your ERP system can help with COVID-19 Remote-Working
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a major disruption to commerce the world over, as businesses work together with the government and the public to ‘flatten the curve’. In this strange new world, your ERP (Enterprise Resource Management) system is an invaluable partner in navigating the work-from-home and remote-working world in which we find ourselves. Businesses are coming to terms with a new normal in which remote-working is standard and staff on-site are kept to the bare, socially distanced minimum. It is here that an ERP system can be your best ally! Let’s find out how an ERP system can help you navigate the COVID-19 crisis and help you manage your team as they work remotely.
Empower your Employees to Work from Home
The beauty of ERP systems is that all the information relating to your business functions is in one place, be it in manufacturing, sales demand, raw material requirements, customer relationship management (CRM) or financial and accounting data. In the case of remote-working for employees, this is invaluable. One of the problems with staff working from home is that it is difficult to monitor productivity. Your ERP system goes a long way in helping. However, it is that your employees log in remotely to the system, (be it via cloud or remote desktop) they are able to log all the information regarding their work This could take the form of your sales team updating leads, quotations, and communications regarding progress with a customer, to your demand planning team updating forecasts, to your manufacturing team using the system to share progress and updates with work-from-home colleagues. The fact that an ERP system requires your employees to work in and update a central system means that it is very easy for team managers to keep track of productivity and ensure that there are no gaps or balls being dropped. Dashboards and task workflows built into ERP systems can also help businesses manage remote reporting and task assignments. They can also be customised to help teams manage unexpected or unusual costs, new ledger items, and financial or tax requirements. Dashboards and central task systems help team managers and employees alike manage the “who is doing what” problem, as well as the communication challenges around sharing that information!
On the other side of the spectrum, your ERP system enhances your employees’ ability and ease with which they can work remotely. Social distancing means that team meetings, supplier meetings and casually asking colleagues questions, is far harder to manage. While virtual meeting facilities such as Zoom and Skype go a long way to aid in this, for many companies the fact that almost all information needed for running the business is stored in the ERP systems means that any queries or questions can be answered without making telephonic or another cumbersome contact with colleagues and are in fact available through the ERP portal. This can reduce employee frustration greatly in a remote working environment.
Managing Big Shifts in Demand
For many businesses, one of the biggest changes in the COVID-19 crisis has been a massive change in demand patterns. Consumers are shopping very differently and needs are very different. This means that some product lines have seen a huge upswing in demand, and for some lines, the demand has fallen away. Some businesses have had to tack completely and are making lines they never manufactured or sold before (a good example of this being facemasks). Being adaptable and in control are imperative to able to quickly adjust your business as and when required. Taking on new product lines, shelving redundant lines, or indeed starting a whole new manufacturing item- requires a strong ERP system. ERP systems are keeping entire industries in operation with their ability to continue business operations through remote access, automated reporting, electronic data exchange, and real-time manufacturing factory controls. Real-time feedback between departments (who are no longer on-site together!) with accurate data about demand and supply is almost impossible to achieve without a strong and intuitive ERP system. Manually updating and planning for large demand changes, or changing quickly to new suppliers could cause a lengthy delay to production. In contrast, with a powerful ERP system, re-planning, rescheduling, and reassigning are nearly instantaneous- and what is more, they can be done remotely.
The strengths of a good ERP system were evident before, but in this unique business environment of global lockdowns and social distancing, they are even more apparent and necessary. There is a newfound emphasis on automated reporting, automated alerts, and strong communications modules. Now more than ever, having all your data available on one platform and enabling your employees to log on remotely is infinitely valuable to businesses riding the COVID-19 storm.