Most ERP systems today capture, store, and trend a range of information such as quality, production, shipping, financial, supply chain activity and much more.
With access to more timely and accurate information, the assumption is that manufacturers use that data to take the needed action to improve business processes. Data helps improve quality, minimize late shipments, reduce inventory, improve customer satisfaction and much more.
Essentially, the goal is to use ERP data to react to change, to maintain better relationships with customers and supply chain partners.
The key point as we see it is to use data to “take action” and that can only be done if the relevant data gets in the hands of those able to make improved business decisions.
HBR Weighs In
To this end, a recent Harvard Business Review entitled “Get Responsibility for Data out of IT” certainly caught our team’s attention.
The intriguing article makes the case that the management of data should be kept as close to the action as possible.
In our experience, this approach should resonate for manufacturers in terms of the data and metrics generated by their ERP systems.
Manufacturers often grapple with the overwhelming amounts of data available from all parts of the enterprise, which can lead to information overload.
This is where “data visualization” comes into play – making that data actionable by visually aggregating numerous data points into displays that use colors, gauges, graphs, and other visual representations to display trends, averages, unusual results, compliance with goals or expectations, and other “actionable” information for managers and executives.
The ERP dashboard is a good way to keep data as close to the action as possible.
ERP dashboards are real-time visualizations of data with pre-built performance indicators and the ability to customize the displays to fit the needs of the company and the interests of the individual users.
Dashboards consolidate and summarize information “at a glance” such as real time metrics about receiving, production, inventory, scrap, ordering, or shipping.
As noted in the HBR post cited above, in this scenario users themselves can manage dashboard data with the ability to “drill down” to successively lower levels of detail. As an example, an initial display reveals shipment reports for the enterprise, month-by-month. If a particular month is of concern, the user can click on that bar on the graph and step down to a graph of shipping by customer for that month to see any outstanding issues or concerns.
What’s key is that the data is in the hands of the department that can take the corrective action, not in a silo far away from the appropriate team.
By making mission-critical metrics available to the entire enterprise – in real-time – companies have a better chance to take action about decisions for a more competitive business process.