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6 steps to making your business smarter and self-driving

Jack Van Der Velde, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Unit4 | Oct. 8, 2015
When it comes to ERP, even the best-laid plans can only be executed properly with a modern system that "self-drives" and fully empowers people.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

To keep your business on the fast track to success, you have to take the proper steps to be cutting edge and ahead of the competition. However, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, originally intended to make our lives at work easier, have gotten a bad reputation for being time-consuming hurdles instead of being known for streamlining and automating business processes in an effective way. In spite of this however, research firm Gartner predicts that worldwide spending on enterprise application software is projected to reach more than $201 billion in 2019, driven primarily by modernisation, functional expansion and digital transformation projects.

In the current digital age, business process modernisation can be key to gaining a competitive advantage. When it comes to ERP, even the best-laid plans can only be executed properly with a modern system that "self-drives" and fully empowers people.

So what exactly does a self-driving do, and what should businesses look out for? The team at Unit4 has identified six essential pillars to consider in order to make your business smarter, sharper, more cohesive and, most of all, successful.


  1. Automation drives motivation. The more you eliminate repetitive and redundant processes and tasks, the more productive (and happy) people become. The results are twofold. On one hand, you diminish employee fatigue, which can cause everything from procedural oversights to full-fledged user errors. On the other hand, when menial tasks are delegated to an automated system, time and energy is freed for more productive, high value, and rewarding undertakings.

  2. Trust the system. A self-driving ERP reduces the amount of input required by users, which simplifies the user experience. Analytics and machine learning technology make it possible to eliminate manual data input to the point where the system only asks for information on an exception basis. By trusting the system to draw its own conclusions with little to no input, employees will learn to use it in new ways that add value to their work. This also frees up employees to focus on more important things instead of having to allocate precious time and resources to track their progress on a particular project that they may be working on.

  3. Timeliness is key. Systems are great at ensuring action is taken at the right time. Humans are not. A self-driving ERP engages the right person when an exception occurs, within the confines of a workflow so action can be taken in a timely manner. This keeps others from having to backtrack into a workflow's timeline to identify problems, which slows up other more important tasks.

  4. Be proactive. A self-driving system should sense potential problems or bottlenecks well before they occur. Traditionally, organisations have waited until a problem occurs before taking any action. This "sit and wait" approach is the opposite of how an efficient, self-driving ERP operates. Instead, an intelligent system monitors for potential problems or roadblocks and suggests steps to prevent them. For example, if a project or process team starts to deviate from the established workflow, alerts drive a project manager to assess root cause and alleviate small issues immediately before they fester and grow into larger, potentially costly problems down the road.

  5. Seize the opportunity. A self-driving ERP system will go even further and sense potential opportunities in order to make them happen. Through the ability to analyse the effectiveness of a product, project or business unit for example, the system will learn how success was achieved and where lessons can be learned. This can provide invaluable feedback for businesses where evolution is vital in order to stay on top of their game. Whether it be taking a new product to market or better targeting of projects to bid on in professional services, seizing these opportunities will lead to more effective service delivery and growth.

  6. Take advice. An intelligent system that learns from the data available to it and typical user action should also be able to make sensible recommendations. It should provide actionable insight based on what it already knows. The system will make suggestions based on company behaviour, personal behaviour, the weather, traffic and all other possible sources it pulls data from.


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