ERP Best Practices: Self-Enablement Options and Tools 

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Businesses rely on enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to help them run efficiently and grow. But in most companies, users underutilize these feature rich systems.  It is difficult to appreciate un-used ERP capabilities without the help of your value-added reseller (VAR).  A good VAR has seen ERP deployed in several environments.  She knows the software, knows your people and knows your business.  This is the best option for improvement.  To supplement using a VAR, there are resources that allow you to learn new ERP features and options on your own.  

ERP systems help manage data and operations effectively. However, these systems can be complex and challenging to use, particularly for small businesses who do not have in-house expertise. This is where self-enablement comes in.

Customer Portals

The best self-enablement tool by far is your customer portal – which is typically available to all licensed and maintenance paying customers.  Portals contain documentation, roadmaps, how-to guides, and other critical information to help you with your ERP deployment. Ask your VAR for information about the portal.  If your ERP company does not offer a customer portal, consider changing to one that does.  It’s that important.

On-line documentation

In the “old days” systems were sold with user manuals (how-to guides) that help users get the most out of the system.  Nowadays these are online for improved access and search capabilities.  Companies like SAP Press provide on-line documents that are always up to date.  The printed version of the SAP Business One guide would be over 700 pages.  Online tools make navigating this volume of information much more efficient.

Pay attention to release notes

The best ERP software publishers (like SAP) constantly improve the product and put your maintenance dollars to work.  If you're running a business, it's important to stay up to date on improved features.  Especially those features which will help streamline your business operations. Read release notes, so you can learn new features, platform compatibilities (Microsoft) and bug fixes that are relevant to your business. Additionally, release notes also alert you to forthcoming, scheduled changes, and tie into the product roadmap.

YouTube as a resource

YouTube, although not perfect, can be a quick option for learning.  Remember though, it’s totally up to the user to validate the relevance of the video.  On that note, pay attention to dates, versions, add on’s and countries…among other things.  SAP has a YouTube channel which offers more focus and often gives quick answers with possible benefit your business. The best videos are posted by active and knowledgeable users and VARs.  Just remember, old videos remain out there, lose relevance over time and are unmonitored. 

User groups

User groups are a great way to get feedback from peers about the software, what features they would like to see, and pain points/ solutions they may have. Additionally, user groups can be a great networking opportunity to meet individuals in your industry using the same software. There is no better time than when you need help to find someone with the same issue who’ll share their experiences.  Larger user groups have conferences that are worth attending.

Please consider these options for ERP self-enablement.  If you are an SME and considering a new ERP, feel free to contact us.

Joseph Timmins

Author