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The Hidden Costs of ERP – Reporting 01/08/2012

Posted by TBoehm30 in ERP.
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Have you figured out when you will get the reports done for your new ERP system?  Who’s going to do them, how long will it take, and what will it cost?

You’ve got the perfect plan for implementing the new software system.  The requirements have been written, your plan includes 2 conference room pilots, and you’ve got time for practice, time for training and time for data migration.  How about reports?   When does that come in?

Your software vendor probably told you that they’ve got plenty of out of the box reports.  Those are probably great if your company used all standard processes and needed totally generic information.  I have yet to see a place where that works.  You probably have lots of reports that you use today, that you’d like to see recreated on the new system.  Maybe you think the reports will be better in the new system, have you allowed time to create them?  Do you know anyone who can create new reports on the new system?

The new software gives you the perfect opportunity to come up with all of the reports that you think will allow you to control your business better.  You can look at your sales orders by month, quarter or year; you can look at purchase orders, at what products are on backorder.  You can see who your most profitable customers are and who costs you the most money.

How do you forecast all of your report needs?  You don’t know what you need until you need it.  That is why the conference room pilots and dry runs are so important.  You need to use the reports to drive the process.  You need to study the reports generated by the practice data to see if they work for you.  You can design new reports based on the results.  Make sure someone has the time to write the reports.  If you go live too soon after your final dry run, you may not have enough time for important reports. 

Do you need the ability to export into Excel?  Will your people need to analyze their own data in a separate program like Excel?  You need to test the exporting function thoroughly before going to a Production environment.  I have seen weird things happen when exporting; the final column of data comes out completely wrong because it was defined as alpha-numeric instead of a date.  I have seen reports completely fail when the parameters don’t match up perfectly.  Testing will decrease the probability of those kinds of problems after go-live.

Will you have a new programming language or environment for your reports?  Does your new system come with Crystal Reports?  Will you get a new way to present dashboards?  All of the reporting needs to be thought out in advance.  After go-live all issues will have to be solved on an emergency basis and cost so much more.  Now is the time to solve the problems when they can be done during regular working hours at a normal pace, without stress.

Have you been in a situation where a report has to be done on an emergency basis?  Leave your story in the comments.