How to keep bad data out of ERP solutions

November 29, 2015 TM Group

How to keep bad data out of ERP solutions

Don't let bad data frustrate your employees.

Business decisions are built on information. When ordering material from suppliers, managers need to know current inventory levels and previous levels of demand. Production lines have to plan projects based on work order details. If the information is wrong, the company may invest time and resources into activities doomed to fail.

Unfortunately, inaccurate data is not a rare occurrence. According to a recent Government Technology magazine survey of state officials and managers, 70 percent of respondents said bad information is a major obstacle for their daily duties. Everyone surveyed said they had been affected by bad data in some way. This problem is not constrained to government institutions, businesses also need to protect themselves from similar frustrations.

Companies turn to ERP solutions to fix the problems associated with data entry, sharing and storage for distribution, manufacturing and accounting. ERP services provide better information visibility than many other options, but optimal performance is dependent on proper adoption. Here are a few steps companies can take to avoid bad data in ERP implementations:

Take advantage of ERP features
Companies implement convenient technology data solutions to avoid the problems associated with previous business practices. Pen and paper checklists promote human errors. Constantly recopying physical documents only increases the likelihood someone will make a mistake or a piece of information will be lost. Spreadsheet programs are helpful but less so if they are disconnected from each other. Modern ERP solutions help businesses oversee and share all digital data processes.

ERP software has features specifically designed to prevent data entry errors. When shopping for a technology solution, a company should inquire with an ERP consultant about what options provide safeguards against misinformation. Find Accounting Software suggested businesses purchase a solution with automated functions, consistent collaboration features and simple integration capabilities.

Consistent language
The Government Technology report found a lack of clear definition for datasets was one of the primary causes of bad information getting in the way of daily tasks. A centralized system only works if every user understands what the information means and how to report details in the software.

ERP systems unify a company so the different departments coming together have to agree on terms. Any time a business introduces a new solution, it should consult all stakeholders. Employees should have a chance to communicate needs and how they managed data in the past. Different sections of an organization may have their own way of doing things and implementation teams must convert data. TechTarget used the example of a company that tried to integrate its ERP and CRM solutions. To get clean data, the company had to examine how enterprise practices and customer engagement strategies defined operations.

The business in the TechTarget article consulted with an ERP partner to smooth over integration obstacles. An ERP consultant has experience in converting old data sets and previous systems to work with new technology using a consistent language for automation and data entry.

Training
If a company implements an ERP solution effectively, it should prevent bad data from corrupting initial processes. To keep data clean, the users who interact with the information need training and best practice reinforcement. A quarter of the problems in the Government Technology findings were caused by a lack of employee knowledge or investment.

Employees have to know what the company expects from ERP implementation and why consistent daily use is important to overall business success. It’s not just a matter of employees using an ERP solution; they have to care about proper procedures. The collaboration facilitated by a central solution allows every user to be on the lookout for errors. If workers want to keep the data clean, they have the tools to perform constant supervision.

Training should involve plenty of trial-and-error procedures. If employees have a problem with the new software, supervisors and implementation leaders must be aware immediately. Mistakes made in training create warning signs for future problems, overseers can deal with trouble before it turns into bad data.

Decision-makers should search for ERP products that promote employee success. Microsoft Dynamics GP add-ons like barcoding tools create uniform data collection procedures and simplify the training process. If a company invests in features for their workers, it prevents dissatisfaction or confusion from creating bad data.

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