Brexit and COVID-19
ERP and business challenges go hand in hand.
This is just as well because, to say the least, 2020 has been a hard year for business. While the Brexit trade-talks drag on without a workable agreement, a new worldwide pandemic has brought untold disruption to supply chains and working practices.
While, for many decades, businesses could count on globalization to deliver materials to the door with growing efficiency, now the UK’s break from the EU throws this arrangement into doubt.
At the same time, COVID-19 has transformed the way we work; many staff have been prevented from going on-site and new laws have put safety to the top of the agenda.
This has caused unprecedented levels of instability and change; unsurprisingly, for many organisations, this means a shift in focus from long term opportunities to more pressing short-term challenges.
For example, it is now common practice to have fewer workers on the shop floor, while more people than ever are working from home in an industry where, only recently, this was unthinkable. This is to say nothing of the introduction of new PPE and safety procedures that have put additional demands on businesses.
Living in a digital age makes it possible to negotiate these challenges. Office staff can take a laptop home and keep in touch while working from the dining room table. More technology on-site also reduces the reliance on shop floor workers.
However, there is some way to go before businesses can say they have a long term solution to these problems.
A Microsoft Teams account and some on-site automation is little more than a sticking plaster over the problems the majority of organisations now face.
For example, many systems that are essential to business operations can still only be accessed on-site, and businesses in general lack the necessary data analytics and inventory control to make quick decisions that cut costs and increase efficiency.
With increasingly volatile and evolving industry pressures, this is more important than ever.
Thankfully, many of the answers to these problems can be solved through ERP.
Here, we take you through the most reliable ways that ERP and business challenges can go hand in hand to turn serious challenges into opportunities.
Support remote working with mobile ERP
Supplying your staff with Microsoft Teams and a Zoom account does not mean your business processes can be carried out remotely.
Of course, communication is important, and Instant Messaging and video conferencing have proved invaluable during the recent lockdown, but there is so much more value going to waste.
If your mobile capabilities are not integrated with your ERP system, then staff will complete more tasks on-site while other jobs will be neglected altogether. This is particularly worrisome since the technology exists to carry out almost any task remotely on a mobile device.
Committing to mobile allows you to get ahead of the competition and turns the current crisis into an opportunity.
Once properly integrated, real-time data can populate the system, such as customer order status, inventory levels, quotes and much more. All of this means better insight and better customer service, in addition to more agile working conditions.
As well as the benefits to front-line staff, there’s also the business intelligence data suddenly made available to busy executives on the move.
This means more visible information on revenue, pipeline, performance, GMROI, customer behaviour and much more.
Who could say no to smarter and more well-informed business decisions?
Cut costs with Cloud
If more staff continue to work from home, organisations will increasingly see sections of their site underutilised.
When this occurs, a long-term trend will naturally be to downsize on floorspace and make additional savings on rent.
Cloud-based servers represent a fantastic opportunity to capitalise on this tendency to downsize by shifting focus online.
Traditionally, businesses have had three primary concerns about implementing cloud technology: privacy, interoperability, and of course, cost.
Decision-makers want to be sure that sensitive data is secure, that major systems that their business relies upon can be linked together and that it will represent good value for money.
Thankfully there has been huge progress in each of these areas in recent years.
A report by Gartner has suggested that cloud environments are expected to experience 60% fewer incidents than traditional data centres. Therefore, while security is always of paramount concern, it seems cloud is winning out over on-site solutions.
At the same time, interoperability has increased as a consequence of improved APIs; the tech monsters (Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft) are also producing new applications with cloud capability that add fuel to the fire.
As the practical challenges shrivel away, the case for cloud becomes increasingly difficult to ignore.
Many people are surprised to hear of the savings they can make through reduced IT costs. Indeed, you’ll typically make regular savings with automatic updates, fewer labour costs and maintenance.
This does not mean cloud is the right path for everyone, but if you want to save server space, cut costs and ease your reliance on IT personnel in the current climate then it’s a good place to start. It’s another way that ERP and business challenges can work together.
Excel from competition with real-time data analytics
Brexit and its associated trade uncertainties combined with the revolution to our working lives brought about by COVID-19 are enough to give a businesses executives nightmares.
How to react if supply chains become destabilised? How can I make reliable decisions if fewer workers are on-site providing up-to-date information?
The solution, at least in part, can be found in real-time data analytics.
Richer, real-time data allows staff at all levels of an organisation to make quick and evidence-based decisions from anywhere in the world.
This means that orders and stock levels can be monitored and addressed more quickly and more accurately than by antiquated systems that are operated on the factory floor.
Over a period of months and years, the enormous wealth of information generated by data analytics will hone your planning and forecasting to a fine art and increase the chances of your business getting ahead of the competition with forensic attention to detail.
The key application here is in the instability caused to supply chains by the shock of Brexit and the creeping reduction in global cooperation.
With proper data-analysis you can quickly pick up on changes to supply and demand, warehouse stock levels and orders and respond to them confidently and effectively.
It is important to remember that this is not merely a solution to short-term challenges: a reliance on data is quickly becoming central to business success, and businesses within industry are no different.
Adapt to global production demands
Associated with both Brexit and COVID-19 is a growing demand for more flexible production management methods.
As the UK re-enters the global market place, businesses may have to adapt to increased competition.
This will come at a time of growing consumer demand for greater customisation of their products. In other words, companies will not only have to cope with more competition, but also changing demands as complexity is ramped up.
Being exposed to fighting-fit global organisations who have mastered the standardisation of a wide range of products with and have vast resources at their disposal will make it tough to compete without a flexible production management approach.
Monitor and control production from anywhere
Even more problematic is honing production management at the same time as workers are being encouraged to stay away from the production line, particularly since production is traditionally so hands-on.
Some factories will be running across split shifts to minimise the threat of COVID-19 and comply with social distancing, but what if Production Managers are prevented from getting onsite?
How will they track the status of production jobs in progress? What are the scrappage rates? Are jobs running on time and are targets being met? What can be done to correct problems that occur when senior staff are unable to get on-site?
Thankfully, Epicor ERP gives staff greater ability to monitor and control production while also allowing them to keep on top of things remotely.
Now a manager can track the status of jobs, monitor real-time data and come to an informed decision even when they are outside of the office. Without this insight, they are effectively operating ‘blind’.
With Epicor ERP you can approach challenges with confidence, knowing that ERP and business challenges can work together so the latest information is at your fingertips when managing production.
Thanks for reading our article on some of the most serious challenges facing businesses today as a result of Brexit and COVID-19. We hope we’ve shown you how ERP and business challenges can go hand-in-hand. If you would like to learn more about how Epicor ERP software can help your business rise above the challenge, please get in touch here.