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Navigating your business towards a better future

By Natasha Henry

Over the past three years, several disruptions have affected the global business environment.

South African business owners have also had to endure looting, load-shedding, water shortages, rising fuel and electricity prices, hikes in the interest rate, and a 13-year high inflation rate of 7.8%. Unsurprisingly, many businesses and entrepreneurs are looking at ways to improve their existing operations and reduce overall costs.

Businesses have been forced to close their doors, and many more face an uphill battle for survival. This article will highlight the common challenges currently faced by companies and decision-makers, along with my tips and insights on how best to navigate these challenges.

Understanding and Communicating the Value Chain:

A value chain is the process or activities by which a company adds value to an article, including production, marketing, and the provision of after-sales services. Identifying and illustrating this chain allows users and decision-makers to identify their specific role in each activity while understanding their role's effect on other stakeholders in the chain. 

As a business solutions specialist, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of understanding and developing a value chain within your organisation.

When reviewing the operational suitability of an ERP solution, there are no one-size fits, and most systems can meet 60% - 80% of your needs. To maximise value from your system, define your processes and workflows around your system. This requires careful planning and execution and input from stakeholders at all levels. 

To better understand the steps you should take when selecting and ERP solution, click here.

Empowering Your Team:

A common challenge identified amongst my clientele is shifting the mindset and culture within their operations. Users operating a legacy system are reluctant to move to the new cloud-based system. This can be influenced by the age and skill level of the workforce. Staff and management undergo training and relook at the existing business operations and processes. 

Here are 5 benefits of reviewing your existing ERP solution.

There are multiple occasions in which the product is an ideal fit to meet the clients needs, however my advice is always to start small. After developing the value chain, users need to be upskilled, empowering them to complete their existing roles. The workforce is the backbone of the system and business. Decision-makers must understand this and recognise its value.

The simplest way to ensure that users across the organisation are considered is through developing a “Digital Transformation” committee. This group should be charged with driving digital change throughout the organisation while acting as a medium of communication between the decision-makers and ground-level users.

Over the years, I have found that organisations that include users in the selection process of a new system or enhancement discussions face considerably less resistance to change.

Measuring Operational Output:

In this era of uncertainty, information is the most valuable commodity. Since COVID-19, it has become clear that there is always room for improving your existing business operations. To effect positive change in your current processes, clear and measurable data needs to be collected and reported on.

“Cross-Departmental Visibility”, “Real-Time Access,” and “Role-Based Dashboards” are standard features mentioned when discussing how systems help drive business growth. 

However, organisations are not required to throw away their existing system to gain access to such features. Over the past two years, more small to medium enterprises are beginning to adopt BI (Business Intelligence) tools to assist them in measuring their overall output and identifying bottlenecks within the existing operations.

BI tools such as Power BI have helped many clients improve their overall business efficiency and productivity. It allows you as a decision-maker to identify and select strategic financial and operational indicators and measure the overall output of the business against these indicators. Power BI also enables you to drill down into your indicators, quickly identifying anomalies and areas of improvement.

A fundamental advantage of Power BI is that it can be implemented into any business, regardless of the size or system used. It is a cloud-based tool, which can be placed as a layer over your existing ERP system and other third-party applications, allowing you to create a single source of truth for your business.

My experiences have taught me that any increase in accessibility and visibility of an organisation's financial and operational information inevitably leads to an increase in overall productivity, efficiency, and innovation within the business, which ultimately helps drive growth.

You are providing your organisation with a platform to improve how things are done and try and do something entirely different.

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