Real-Time ERP Data: A Step Towards KPI Success

One of my early jobs, a couple of years after college, was to look up yesterday’s sales from several retail sites my company owned. I would write the total amount on a card mounted high on the wall so the executives could see the number from their offices across the way as they arrived to work each day. This was my introduction to key performance indicators. Staffing decisions, restocking choices and other management decisions were made based on that display of yesterday’s data.

A few years later, I learned how an amusement park nearby counted tickets sold each morning and at 9:30 would predict the rest of the day’s admissions. Part-time personnel would be sent home. Booths would close; Rides might be shut down for the day. Decisions that could not easily be changed were made well before most of the anticipated crowd would arrive.

Today, we would develop real-time ERP data processes that read cash register and e-commerce transactions along with commercial credit transactions in real time and would update the electronic display automatically every few seconds. We might have an ERP portal available so that today’s executive could see the report on his mobile device wherever he traveled to.

Just Because We Can Measure Something Does Not Mean We Should

Yesterday we were limited by the speed of an accountant to look up and aggregate the data. That accounting job is long gone. Without the old time constraint, we can go well beyond the gross sales and could show expenses of the day as they accumulate or incoming shipments of product and an expected turnover of the new inventory. Our imagination is our major limit when it comes to real-time ERP data.

Remember that real-time performance indicators are supposed to be key. That means they measure how we are doing against one of our business goals. Just because we can measure something does not mean we should. Think carefully about the goals of your business. What small selection of values can we use to indicate how we are doing? Can we calculate those values? We need to be able to capture the right data and do the math. Try to avoid using data that is only close to the data required. Find a way to develop and capture what is important. Your ERP is already working in real time capturing transactions of all types. Your ERP already has dashboard capability for you to use. All you have to do is develop the rules and processes and you have real-time KPIs for you and your business to monitor.

Why not let your employees see the results of real-time ERP data tracking. Put the KPI display on your wall. Then put the same display in front of work areas and in break rooms. If everybody sees how they contribute, your whole enterprise can improve.

author image
Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at customerteam@erpfocus.com.

author image
Tom Miller