Reporting Basics for ERP Solutions

 In Best Practices, Blog
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Good reporting data is the lifeblood of your business.

In the same way that a list of words is meaningless until an author assembles them into a book, datasets, KPIs, and the like are useless unless you’re able to examine them in the form of a report. 

Reporting capabilities are critical to the success of a vibrant, product-centric business. Without meaningful data easily accessible, how are you supposed to make those critical decisions that will drive your company forward? 

As this AZ Central article points out, deep-diving into available data leads to a cause-and-effect approach to solving performance problems. Access to a broad range of accurate, thorough datasets gives you insight into what might be causing issues within your business processes, where your business is in danger of running into problems, areas where your efficiency is being impacted, and more. 

So how do you get your hands on the right reports that will get you to that granular level of insight into the overall health of your business?

Start at the source

Where are you getting your data from, and how?

Before we get into what to do with your report once it’s in front of you, let’s take a moment to consider where the data in your report is coming from, and how you accessed it.

If you’re using a software solution other than your ERP system to create a report or you have to manually enter data into a separate system, you’re running the risk of compiling bad information. 

Data not pulled directly from an ERP solution can suffer from inaccuracy due to: 

  • Inconsistencies between ecommerce platforms
  • Changes occurring after the data was pulled 
  • Duplicate entries from items being listed on more than one storefront and being pulled for both
  • Input errors

Data in your reports needs to come straight from the heart of your operational software — this ensures that the data is trustworthy, and, therefore, so is your report. 

A quick word of warning here — if your ERP solution makes pulling the data you need difficult, that’s a big red flag that your ERP solution is not equipped to scale with your business, and it might be time to start looking for a system that won’t get in the way of growth.  

Integrate where necessary

But wait — how is your ERP solution supposed to pull data from your ecommerce storefront without manual effort from you? 

Well, unless your ERP solution is connected to your ecommerce storefront, it can’t, obviously. Creating a link between the two, though, is often a lot more doable than you might think.

If you’re using a software solution other than your ERP system to create a report or you have to manually enter data into a separate system, you’re running the risk of compiling bad information.

Integrations for many of the most commonly used storefronts, such as Amazon or Shopify, are available for ERP solutions equipped to handle them. Other integrations, such as Sellbrite, give you the ability to manage multiple ecommerce storefronts from one central location — even those storefronts that don’t offer a direct integration to your ERP solution. 

Adding an integration to your ERP setup is an added expense, but when you consider the benefits that integrating to your ecommerce storefront can bring for reporting purposes alone, that extra cost quickly becomes money well spent. 

Work your magic

Once you’ve verified that your data is coming the right places and you can trust that it’s up-to-date, it’s time for the fun part — building and interpreting the reports, and using what you discover to grow your company! 

Most ERP solutions come with pre-configured reports. These can run the gamut from incredibly useful to a waste of space — just because it’s an easy option doesn’t mean that it’s the right report for your company. Make sure that you thoroughly understand each pre-configured report in your ERP solution before relying on it to make critical business decisions. 

When looking at a pre-configured report in your ERP solutions, ask:

  • What are the parameters of the report, and can they be adjusted?
  • What datasets is the report using?
  • Is there other pertinent business data that isn’t present in this report?
  • Can I view the report in a different format, if needed (can you rearrange the columns or rows, or can you convert to a pie chart)? 

These are just a few questions to get the ball rolling when you examine an out-of-the-box report. Use what you learn from these questions to interpret these reports correctly. 

Beyond pre-configured reports, though, a quality ERP solution will give you the ability to create your own reports. The scope of your reporting capabilities is only limited by available datasets and your own creativity. 

Every ERP solution will vary in how their user-built reports are designed and manipulated, and in how easy it is to create or modify datasets. This variability is one of the many reasons why it pays off to research different ERP solutions and be prepared when it’s time to demo your top picks. 

Creating and utilizing useful reports is a bit of an art form, but it’s something that every product-centric manufacturing or distribution business needs to rely on when pushing for growth. So get in there, dig around, and see where the data takes you. 

SalesPad prides itself on offering a number of useful reporting options in both of our flagship ERP products. To learn more about the reporting capabilities we can offer you and your company, get in touch with your sales rep. We’d love to connect with you and answer any questions you may have. 

Get in touch to learn more about SalesPad's reporting capabilities.

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