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Keep Your Workers Productive With Enterprise Planning and Automation

04/15/2015 09:37 am ET | Updated Jun 15, 2015

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are showing up in a lot of small and medium-sized businesses. And why not? The benefits are clear. According to the Aberdeen Group's "ERP in SME: Fueling Growth and Profit" (PDF), an ERP deployment brings around 22 percent reduction in operating costs, 20 percent in administrative costs, 17 percent reduction in inventory management cost, and around the same level of improvements in both scheduled compliance and on-time delivery.

On top of that, an ERP solution can help small businesses make sense of the huge amount of data they generate.  It is interesting to take note of the numbers the study Enterprise Resource Planning Software BuyerView 2015" is brandishing. Small businesses start considering an ERP solution because they want to improve their CRM processes. More than that, close to six out of every 10 enterprises wanted an ERP solution to integrate the data they get from other business processes, putting all of these data in one place.

Also, the report finds that out of those that they've surveyed, around two of every three were first-time users of ERP solutions. This certainly shows enterprise resource planning solutions, despite the name, are no longer exclusive to large-scale enterprises. And expect more small businesses to follow suit, especially those aiming to streamline a growing operation, or SMEs that want to get better value from the data hey already have.

Employees & HR Staff

One area where ERP shines is in human resources. HR plays an important role in any enterprise, as it focuses on both the professional development and personal welfare of employees. But because of the large amount of information that HR has to process, most HR departments find it difficult to do their jobs.

An ERP platform can be a great tool that can help HR align their employees' skills and interests to those of their jobs and the company's goals. That means no employee is assigned an inappropriate task they are not prepared to do. It also means both the employees and the company are working towards a shared and common goal.

ERP systems and modules used for HR give employees better resource management, which touches on spending accounts, payroll, benefits administration, and compensation. Then you have modules that touch on management of the workforce, including performance support, scheduling, absence handling, time, and attendance. You can also use ERP for recruitment, training, competency management, and performance management.

Tools to Fit Any Business Shape & Size

There are several tools out there that can help your company improve your ERP utilization when you plan to use it for human resources management. For instance, you have Infor Human Capital Management, which works with Infor's own ERP solution. The web-enabled solution is one of the most robust modules available in the market today and is one of the easiest to update and scale.

You also have the Human Resources Management module for Microsoft Dynamics NAV, which assists in handling human resources by managing, organizing, and controlling the information that you have about your employees. With Microsoft Dynamics NAV, you can track significant and relevant employee information and even organize all this according to several types, including skills, experience, union membership, training and others.

It also helps you create candidate profiles you can use when you want to fill a new position  from within. NAV ensures security of confidential and sensitive employee data, while also allowing you to save time in searching for specific information. Furthermore, you can use the module to track expensive equipment issued to employees, such as a company car, smart phone, laptop, and others.

If you have a mid-size business, you might want to check out Oracle HRMS, which helps automate HR related tasks and functions -- Oracle actually touts it as the complete solution from recruitment to retirement. All the data are integrated into a single source to help you get an immediate, quick and accurate view of your HR activities. It also includes real-time analytics. A similar offering is SAP ERP Human Capital Management, which gives you basically the same features as Oracle's.

The IT Department

For the IT department, ERP systems present both an advantage and a challenge. Firstly, the ERP platform allows workers to automate tedious and repetitive work. However, properly maintaining an ERP deployment will require frequent updates, patches and debugging. Software upgrades and testing tools, such as the Panaya CloudQuality Suite can help you do away with repetitive manual testing. The platform makes use of big data analytics to help you test the viability of upgrades to your Oracle EBS, SAP or SalesForce implementations. You still learn what steps to take to avoid failures, and even which areas to test even before you roll out the upgrades. IT employees who are in charge of the upgrade will be able to cut test cycles by at least 50 percent while also decreasing the risks for the entire project.

Decision Makers & Executives

Another area where ERP helps is in decision making. Employees who are tasked to analyze and make decisions -- such as the company's executives, managers and supervisors -- will have better visibility over all the company's data, which makes it easier to synthesize and make decisions based on information. Decision-making, strategizing and planning have never been easier and involving lesser risks.

Happy workers are productive workers, and you can use your ERP platform to ensure your employees are content and productive. From being able to match their skills to their tasks, to making their work easier and less repetitive, to giving them improved visibility, enterprise solutions can be a great way to make sure your employees can do more.