Does a tangled web of data and systems restrict your teams from making timely and accurate data-driven decisions? Join the club. As industry dynamics evolve, there is constant pressure to cut operational costs and increase profitability to stay ahead of the curve. To remain competitive, more and more organizations are looking to improve analytical capabilities. Timely access to critical data for the purpose of sophisticated analysis is the need of the hour. The lack of integration between Dynamics AX, Office, and email tools can influence a heavy reliance on technical staff, taking eons to complete even the simplest of analysis, especially in the absence of the right tools and skill set. Common roadblocks to achieving greater insights into analytics are typically identified as follows:
Rampant Use of Offline Spreadsheets
In spite of modern, state-of-the-art tools being available today, the continued and wide usage of offline spreadsheets for the purpose of reporting and analysis is a roadblock. Using independent spreadsheets as short term solutions to solve long term business problems tends to hamper performance in the long run.
Extensive Dependence on Paper Documents
Paper documents are everywhere. Piled on your desk, stacked in your drawer, and hoarded in cabinets. As orders and payments from customers, suppliers and partners are predominantly sent and received through emails, employees embrace time-consuming, labor-intensive processing that has high error probability and low credibility. Invoices are received late, documents are lost in transit and when emails and faxes have to be worked into an ERP system manually, the order-to-cash cycle timeline is increased; that hampers day-to-day operations.
Lack of Integration Results in Delayed Decision Making
In spite of making substantial investments in critical enterprise systems like Dynamics AX, non-technical users that create complex spreadsheets often do not have access to these systems. Additionally, mounds of paperwork compel users to spend considerable amounts of time and energy to gather data from these enterprise systems. This delays the entire decision making process that in turn affects critical metrics like sales, payments and delivery. Not having the right information available at the right time can mean lost revenue. When spreadsheets and emails are not integrated with Dynamics AX, that leads to several problems:
- Operational Risk: Manual entry, manipulation, and retrieval of data pose inherent risk to any crucial enterprise function. Since data is at the core of almost all business processes including reporting and analysis, and is the sole basis of decision making, the abundance of manual processes involved in creating, maintaining and updating spreadsheets are prone to operational risk. Such manual calculations can result in massive errors with overwhelming consequences.
- Data Inaccuracy: Changes made to spreadsheets, especially those with multiple formulae, are susceptible to undetected errors that have a long-term effect on data. When data is entered manually, certain properties of the data are lost, making it difficult to trace back to the original source. When additional calculations are added or deleted, quality control is at increased risk.
- Time Consuming: When emails and faxes are stored in file cabinets and are administered manually, tracking and processing orders becomes cumbersome. With offline spreadsheets, your staff has to manually gather and verify input data, manually build formulae, charts, and graphs, and then share the output with colleagues and partners. And after all the effort, what if you discover bad data or an error in the formula much later?
- Data Duplication: It is not uncommon for different teams to create very similar or sometimes identical spreadsheets, or for different departments to file and process the same orders separately. Duplication of data is a waste of resources, often resulting in significant losses in the long run.
- Lack of Visibility: A fundamental problem with manual processing of fax and email orders is that the order management team generally has no visibility into the process until orders are entered into the ERP system. This makes it very difficult for them to identify what orders have come in, which ones have been processed, and the ones that have not.
- Poor Customer Service: No matter how efficiently you manage fax and email orders, your efforts always fall short in meeting customer expectations. In the era of the demanding customer, quick customer service is critical. Unforeseen human errors eventually delay customer response and increase costs substantially. This results in low customer satisfaction and in several cases, customers lost.
The Power of BI
The challenges and risks associated with the use of manual spreadsheets and isolated email systems highlight the significance of embracing new technologies. By automating your Dynamics AX solution using BI systems, you can address the most important problems and challenges by creating consolidated views of data by removing silos, minimizing enterprise risk, increasing time to market and improving overall business performance and profitability. ERP automation enables the elimination of paperwork, improvements to the accuracy and credibility of the data, an increased visibility into operations, and enhancements to productivity.
Modern BI tools also offer many alternatives to legacy systems; by integrating your Office and email applications with Dynamics AX, you eliminate the need for manual processes and create automation by retrieving and displaying data directly from the source. Team members are in a better position to access emails and documents, and manipulate and analyze data through easy-to-use dashboards and interactive interfaces. Business users can focus on the requirements steered by their roles, responsibilities and everyday tasks to standardize processes, efficiently manage risk and security and enhance operational efficiencies.