Microsoft Excel spreadsheets are a great starting point for most businesses’ basic reporting needs because it’s affordable and easy to use. But at some point, spreadsheets can be pushed beyond their limits and quickly become difficult to manage — especially in a collaborative setting. When this happens, it may be time to consider moving to a more scalable option, such as a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) application.
As a financial leader in your organization, there are warning signs you should be watching for that could indicate you’ve pushed the limits of your spreadsheet usage:
- Do you have multiple people who need to access the same data, often simultaneously?
- Do you have too many sources for the data you’re compiling?
- Are there discrepancies and conflicts between data from different sources?
- Do you spend too much time verifying the accuracy of your financials and keeping them up to date?
- Do you wish you had more time to better analyze and pull actionable insights from your data instead of spending it on manually intensive work?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, upgrading to a more modern and robust cloud-based ERP system might be your best move to efficiently manage your financials and associated data. Before moving to the cloud, here are some considerations that can help you select the right application and get the most out of it.
Consolidate Your Data
One of the most common mistakes I see is when people blindly take their existing software and merely move it to a cloud application, thinking a new application will produce better data. All this practice does is shift the existing data inefficiencies to a new location. Oftentimes it’s better to upgrade all your systems into a broader application, such as a cloud-based ERP, to reduce the number of places your data is stored and the need for complex system integrations.
Determine Your Data Requirements
A cloud-based ERP can be configured in many ways to meet an organization’s financial data requirements. As you research cloud-based options, it’s important to think about what data requirements are needed for your operations. Consider these guiding questions:
- Why are you collecting the data?
- Who is using the data?
- How is the data being used?
Sit down and talk to the people in your organization who will regularly use the new application to discover what’s working with your current application and/or process, what isn’t working and how the flow of data can be improved. This will help you prioritize what features and overall expectations you have for the new application so that you can narrow down your options more effectively.
Plan Ahead With Workflows
Once you’ve defined your data requirements for the new system, it’s recommended to draw up a workflow diagram that outlines all the steps and decision points vital to your operations. In this phase, it’s important to avoid simply matching the new application to current spreadsheets. Instead, focus on the future state of your data, and look for any opportunities to automate manual processes. With a cloud-based ERP application, you’re building a scalable environment that will give you the flexibility to create a more user-friendly experience and better data for all resources.
Spreadsheets are helpful for the basics, but they’re not well suited for the advanced planning and reporting that truly benefits a company’s bottom line. A cloud-based ERP application makes financial data accessible in real time, all in a centralized location. Being able to tap into your financials to pull actionable insights allows for increased productivity and quicker, more informed business decisions.
At Creative Planning Business Services, our team is here to help you assess your options for your operational and reporting needs. We partner with clients to implement NetSuite, an industry-leading cloud-based ERP system that transforms and modernizes business operations. Schedule a meeting with us today to learn more about our services and what NetSuite can do to streamline your financials.