Analytics is one of the most useful features of an ERP system. During the past few years, ERP system have made it easier to analyze data and create reports. Yet, there is still several situations when analyzing data is complicated, frustrating and time-consuming.
During recent years, ERP vendors have improved the ways data is analyzed and reported. Yet, there still may be a number of situations where you can't get the right view of information.
There can be many reasons: Data may be missing or spread across several databases. Reports might be too detailed, or not detailed enough. You may need special knowlege or skills to be able to extract, merge and format data, etc.
Ultimately, these factors create many challenges – and stop CFOs and their team from reaching their objectives.
What features should an analytics tool have?
To combat this problem, businesses are increasingly using Business Intelligence software to analyze ERP data.
Business intelligence solutions offer a range of features that makes it easy to analyze, report and share data. In fact, it can even generate daily, weekly or monthly reports automatically.
This makes it easier for busy executives to know what's happening across key business areas, projects and performance metrics.
Let’s look at the top 11 features every ERP analytics tool should offer and see how they can help you work with data more effectively.
#1 Interactive graphs and charts
Graphs and charts displays data in ways that are easy to understand and apply. The different types may include pie charts, stacked bar graphs, radial diagrams, heat maps and many other types of visualisations. Each one best suited for analysing information in a different way.
#2 Dynamic filtering
Quickly filter away unwanted information from a graph or table so you can focus on what’s relevant. This includes filtering by any parameter: including business unit, time period or customers, and also by mathematical conditions like Product Type = “XT200” AND Sales > 1000.
Easily group data by date, product, customers, suppliers, projects, or any other meaningful category and then sum up totals or sub-totals.
#4 Drill downs
A drill down enables you to click from one data point to lower level information. This makes it easier to understand what data you are looking at and the factors the lying behind it.
Pivoting data enables you to group and summarize data by columns. You can switch between table and graphic formats, without having to create a new report.
Sorting is a way to organise data in columns by ascending or descending values. It’s possible to sort one column after the other, making it easier to see patterns in the data.
#7 Graphic Indicators
Indicators are visual cues which help users understand data and spot outliers - with minimal effort. An example could be an arrow up to indicate the daily change or a red light to show the threshold value has been reached.
#8 Pre-programmed KPIs
Common financial ratios and other KPIs are already calculated without you having to enter formulas. This drastically reduces the risk of errors.
#9 Currency converter
Currency converter enables you to chart data in different currencies without having to look up historic rates or apply formulas.
#10 Export to multiple formats
Getting data out is as important as getting it in. It should be possible to export data to common formats like csv, pdf and Excel, or send to the printer.
Data is only valuable if it is easy to share. Make sure analytics tools offer a range of ways to share information - whether it is with the CEO, CFO, sales teams or others. This should include being able to grant users access to select dashboards and look into their own data - without knowing anything about an ERP system. It should also allow you to email ERP insights to collegues.
These features make it easier for you to work with ERP data and share valuable information. You may not need them all, but at least you have the option.