Beyond ERP: Understanding Opportunities for System Success With Advanced Point Solutions

The past decade has seen a dramatic shift in the way businesses operate due to the proliferation of advanced point solutions. These solutions have allowed companies to move beyond traditional ERP systems and unlock new opportunities for system success. In this article, we will analyze how these advanced point solutions are transforming the way businesses operate, and how they can be leveraged to maximize system success.

"Many businesses are stuck in the mindset that ERP systems are the be-all and end-all of software solutions, but in reality, there are a plethora of advanced point solutions that can complement and enhance ERP functionality." - Jermaine Jackson - Partner: Procurement - Zanovoy

What are Point Solutions?

Point solutions are typically specialized software applications designed to provide specific functionality beyond the capabilities of your ERP digital platform. Examples of such solutions include customer relationship management software (CRM) like Salesforce, business intelligence software (BI) and analytics platforms like Tableaux, and spend management software, like Coupa. Each of these solutions offers different capabilities and benefits that can help organizations meet their goals more effectively.

The Benefits of Including Advanced Point Solutions in Your Business Software Strategy

Point Solutions Minimize ERP Customisation Requirements

The major benefit of using an advanced point solution is that it allows companies to access advanced functionality to solve very specific and complex business challenges. By leveraging the right solution, companies can tailor their system to fit their unique requirements without having to invest in a costly ERP customization. Additionally, since these solutions are typically cloud-based and highly scalable, they offer easier access to data and greater flexibility when it comes time for upgrades or maintenance.

Point Solutions Gives Your Company Access to Advanced Business Intelligence

Another advantage of using an advanced point solution is that it allows businesses to focus on core competencies while still maintaining access to necessary data and tools. For example, a company may choose to use an ERP platform for its accounting functions while utilizing BI software for forecasting purposes. This arrangement allows the business to focus its resources on its core strengths while still having access to key information from both systems at any given time.

Point Solutions Give Businesses Better Controls and Improve Operational Health

Leveraging advanced point solutions also provides businesses with greater control over their processes. By automating certain tasks such as order processing or spend management controls, businesses can reduce labor costs while still ensuring accuracy and efficiency across all areas of operation. Systems like Coupa, for example, help to streamline procurement processes and spend policy enforcement, which allows businesses to stay competitive and respond quickly to change. By leveraging the latest technologies and software, organizations can gain access to advanced functionality that supports their business goals.

Coupa Spend Management Brochure

Operations Platforms vs. Point Solutions: What’s the Difference?

Operations platforms and point solutions are two different types of software solutions that can be used to improve organizational efficiency and productivity. Operations platforms, like NetSuite ERP are comprehensive end-to-end software suites designed to automate and streamline complex business operations, such as human resources, accounting and finance, sales and marketing, customer service, analytics, supply chain management, manufacturing execution systems (MES), warehouse management systems (WMS) and more. Point solutions, on the other hand, are specialized software applications designed to offer deeper functionality than what an ERP can provide.

Point solutions offer a more targeted approach to solving complex business challenges, as they are specifically designed to meet a particular need. These solutions are often quickly deployed and highly customizable, allowing companies to tailor the technology to their unique processes and goals.

The Evolution of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Programs Over Time

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have come a long way since their creation in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, where they were largely designed for enterprise level manufacturing companies to help with manufacturing resource planning and inventory management. Modern cloud ERPs like NetSuite, have become an essential tool for businesses of all sizes and across a wide range of verticals and industries including Wholesale Distribution, Manufacturing, Health and Life Sciences, Professional Services, Software, Oil & Gas Project Management and more. However, the nature of ERP Technology Solutions is to provide holistic functionality across a wide range of modules and business functions, which means their ability to develop deep functionality to meet very specific requirements, such as global spend management, becomes limited.

The Origins of ERP Systems

ERP systems trace their origins back to the 1960s when manufacturers developed Material Resource Planning (MRP) systems to automate inventory management. MRP systems were designed to help businesses manage their inventory levels by generating production schedules based on inventory levels and customer demand. These systems were designed to be used by manufacturers and were not suitable for other types of businesses.

In the 1990s, the concept of ERP emerged, combining MRP systems with other core business functions, like accounting and human resources. This integration allowed businesses to manage all of their core functions in one system, providing a more efficient and streamlined approach to business management.

With the rapid growth of technology and the increasing needs of businesses, ERP systems have expanded their functionalities over the years. Companies can now choose from a range of ERP solutions tailored to their industry and business model, which are now mostly cloud-based systems.

Modern ERP Systems and Their Limitations

Despite their many benefits, there are limitations to modern ERP systems. One of the biggest challenges with ERP systems is the cost of implementation and maintenance. These systems can be expensive to implement, and ongoing maintenance costs can be significant.

Another limitation of ERP systems is their rigid structure. These systems are designed to be used by a wide range of businesses, which means they may not be tailored to the deeper functionality requirements of every business.

The Emergence of Advanced Point Solutions

Defining Advanced Point Solutions

Advanced Point Solutions (APS) are specialized software solutions that tackle specific business challenges, such as spend management, order management, supplier contract management, or team expense management. Unlike ERP systems, APS are not designed to be all-encompassing, but rather, they are programs tailored to the specific needs of a department or business function.

Advanced point solutions have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their ability to address specific business challenges in a more targeted and efficient manner. In areas of business where challenges and complexities are many, such as global procurement, point solutions, such as Coupa, offer a way to streamline and control processes, save money and minimize waste and inefficiency.

By focusing on specific areas of a business, APS can provide a more comprehensive and effective solution that works alongside your ERP system.

Key Industries and Sectors Adopting Point Solutions

APSs are becoming increasingly popular across a wide range of industries. For example, life sciences and healthcare organizations are adopting electronic medical record systems to manage clinical data management, clinical trial administration & management, patient data, and risk management. Similarly, retailers, distributors and e-commerce companies are using spend management systems like Coupa to automate their supply chain and procurement process, and improve supplier risk management analysis.

In addition to these industries, APS are also being adopted by businesses in the manufacturing, finance, transportation, hi-tech and oil & gas sectors. These businesses are using advanced point solutions to streamline their operations, improve efficiency, and gain a competitive edge in their respective markets.

Benefits of Implementing Point Solutions Alongside ERP Systems

By integrating point solutions with their ERP, organizations can enjoy the benefits of both types of systems. ERP systems provide broad functionality and data visibility, while APS can be customized to fit specific business needs and provide deep insights into individual processes. The result is a more efficient and streamlined workflow that improves the overall performance of an organization. By combining data from both disconnected systems, organizations can gain insights into specific processes and identify areas for improvement.

The emergence of advanced point solutions has provided businesses with a more targeted and efficient way to address specific challenges. By integrating APS with ERP systems, organizations can gain a more comprehensive view of their operations, customize solutions to fit specific needs, and improve overall performance.

Identifying Opportunities for System Success

As businesses strive to remain competitive, it’s essential to identify opportunities for system success in all areas of your business. By leveraging the latest technologies and streamlining business processes, organizations can achieve greater efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

Assessing Your Firm’s Needs

The first step in identifying opportunities for system success is to assess your organization’s needs. This involves taking a close look at your business processes and determining which functions are most critical to your success. For example, if you’re a manufacturing company, your raw materials procurement processes may be the most critical area to focus on.

Once you’ve identified your critical business functions, you should evaluate which processes could benefit from automation solutions. For example, if your procurement process involves a lot of manual data entry, excel reporting and managing emails, implementing a spend management point solution like Coupa, could save time and reduce errors and optimize your supplier contract strategies.

Evaluating the Compatibility of Point Solutions Software With Existing Systems

Before implementing any new system, it’s important to evaluate its compatibility with your existing systems. This involves determining whether the point solutions you’re considering can be easily integrated with your ERP system and whether they can be customized to meet your specific needs.

For example, if you’re considering a new business intelligence and data visualization tool, you’ll want to ensure that it can be integrated with your existing ERP to ensure real time data is available without the need for manual uploads. This will ensure a smooth implementation process and a seamless user experience.

Determining the Potential Return on Investment (ROI)

When implementing new systems, it’s important to determine the potential return on investment (ROI). This involves looking at the costs of implementing and maintaining a new system and the benefits it will bring to your organization, both in terms of soft improvements, such as increases in efficiency and reduced manual administration, as well as hard improvements, such as reduced average COGs or lower spend in specific categories.

Make sure to perform a comprehensive analysis before making any investment decisions. Working with a firm or technology partner that specializes in implementing and supporting the point solution you are considering is critical to ensuring you understand the solution’s functionality fully, as well as how it will work alongside your other business management systems.

Integration Strategies for Advanced Point Solutions and ERP Systems

Management of Data Integration and Synchronization

When integrating point solutions and ERP systems, it’s essential to ensure that data is integrated and synchronized seamlessly. This requires careful planning and a deep understanding of both systems. With any digital transformation project, ensuring data integrity is critical to the success of any integrated solution.

One way to ensure seamless data integration is to use middleware, such as Celigo, which acts as a bridge between the point solution and the ERP system. Middleware can help to translate data between the two systems, ensuring that they are able to communicate effectively. It can also help to automate data synchronization, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring that data is always up-to-date.

Streamlining Business Management Processes and Workflows

One of the key benefits of integrating point solutions and ERP systems is the ability to streamline business processes and workflows. By automating routine tasks and eliminating manual data entry, you can increase efficiency and reduce errors. This frees up employees to focus on higher-value tasks and ultimately improve the bottom line.

For example, integrating a point solution for spend management with an ERP system can help to automate the process of procuring both raw materials, and other non inventory your business requires, such as office equipment, machine monitoring technology or IOT devices. This will help to ensure that any spend that occurs across all business departments and locations is in line with purchasing policies and budgets, and is being sourced from your preferred vendors and in alignment with your contract pricing.

Ensuring Seamless User Experience

Finally, it’s essential to ensure a seamless user experience when integrating point solutions and ERP systems. This means designing intuitive interfaces and workflows that allow users to easily access the information they need and complete their work efficiently. Training and support for point solutions are also critical to ensure that all employees are able to use the new system effectively.

One way to ensure a seamless user experience is to involve end-users in the design and testing process. This can help to identify any pain points or areas where the system could be improved. It can also help to build buy-in among employees, who are more likely to embrace a new system if they feel that their needs and concerns have been taken into account.

Working With Point Solution Vendors

Consider working with a managed services provider that specializes in your chosen point solution. MSPs have deep expertise in their specialized applications, and can provide your business with a level of experience and resources that you may not have in house. As an experienced team of point solution experts, a managed services provider will be able to provide you with comprehensive support of your chosen point solution.

Interested in Learning More About Our Supported Point Solutions?

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are no longer sufficient to address the complex needs of organizations. As we have explored in this article, the integration of advanced point solutions alongside ERP systems has become essential for achieving system success and unlocking untapped opportunities.

While ERP systems provide a solid foundation for managing core business functions, they often lack the specialized capabilities required to streamline specific processes or address unique industry challenges. This is where advanced point solutions come into play. By deploying targeted applications, organizations can enhance their operational efficiency, optimize financial processes, improve decision-making, and drive overall growth.

To fully leverage the potential of advanced point solutions, it is crucial to partner with a trusted Application Management Partner like Zanovoy.

Zanovoy has established itself as a leader in implementing and supporting a wide range of point solutions including Coupa Spend Management, Avalara, Adaptive Insights, Celigo, YayPay, and RF Smart, catering to diverse industry requirements. Our expertise, experience, and comprehensive support services enable organizations to seamlessly integrate and leverage the capabilities of these point solutions to leading ERP applications like NetSuite and SAP.

At Zanovoy, we have a passion for technology solutions that offer deep functionality to solve complex business challenges. To learn more about how Zanovoy’s team of expert advisors can help your business achieve system success, please contact us today.

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