Business intelligence (BI) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) software are both important technologies

How ERP and BI work together

One of the big challenges facing manufacturers is inadequate reporting and analysis capabilities. This results in inefficient decision-making processes due to siloed data which limits the ability to respond to changing conditions quickly and accurately.

Business intelligence (BI) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) software are both important technologies for businesses that want to improve their performance and gain insights from their data. ERP and BI have different functions and have been separate systems for many years. However, recently they have come together and are now able to deliver some major benefits. An ERP system with embedded BI enables manufacturers to have better analytical capabilities and to be data-driven.

What do BI and ERP do?

ERP software integrates various business processes, such as accounting, manufacturing, inventory, procurement and sales into a single database. It collects, stores, manages data related to business activities, and eliminates data silos, helping companies to manage their operations more efficiently and reduce costs by and streamlining workflows.

BI software provides the tools to analyze the data collected from ERP software and other applications to provide insights and information that help businesses make better decisions. BI software collates, transforms and presents data in ways that make it easy to understand and act on.

Some of the key differences between the systems are:

  • ERP software focuses on process management and automation, while BI software focuses on data analysis and visualization.
  • ERP software provides a real-time view of the business operations, while BI software provides a historical and predictive view of the business performance.
  • ERP software is mainly used by operational staff and managers, while BI software is mainly used by planners, analysts and executives.
  • ERP software may require customization and integration with other systems, while BI software requires a high level of data quality and governance.

Why companies invest in ERP

Many manufacturers have implemented an ERP system for the benefits it brings, such as:

  • improving efficiency, control of internal operations, and risk management;
  • integrating financial, manufacturing, and business data;
  • ensuring transparency and connectivity across the factory floor, with other functions and other sites;
  • reducing costs and waste;
  • enabling accurate and timely procurement;
  • improving inventory tracking and management;
  • providing real-time data across the enterprise;
  • automating data collection;
  • increasing inter-departmental collaboration.

Why companies invest in BI

As a business grows, so does the amount of data. Using this increasing volume of data for understanding patterns and trends, and making forecasts, requires BI software.

Without a BI solution, staff often have to manually extract data, load it into a spreadsheet and then manipulate it to create reports or charts. This process is time-consuming, prone to errors, and may lead to delays in using critical information.

Benefits of ERP and BI working together

ERP and BI are complementary technologies that work together to enhance the value of business data. By combining ERP and BI systems, businesses can leverage the benefits of both systems and gain complete visibility of the organization. This can help businesses increase their agility, improve their oversight, and achieve their goals.

A major benefit of bringing ERP and BI together is the centralization of data. It provides a single version of truth because corporate data is aggregated into a central repository.

Combining these systems avoids the complexities and costs of integrating the complex data structure of an ERP system into a third-party BI solution.

Issues of data quality and governance are easier to manage, as well as data security and privacy, if all the data is in a single database.

With an ERP system that focuses on manufacturing industries, pre-built dashboards can be used to obtain a faster time to use and value of the BI tools.

The combination of ERP data and BI insights:

  • increases the access to real-time data that BI tools can use to generate insightful information;
  • allows staff to benefit from analytics embedded in a workflow or process to make actionable insights and make better, faster decisions in their existing workflows;
  • provides a fully integrated view of key business operations;
  • enables faster, data-driven decision-making;
  • improves monitoring of metrics and measurement of performance;
  • can help track the performance of the business over time and compare performance with competitors and industry benchmarks;
  • can provide better analysis and understanding of customers, for example by segmenting customers based on various criteria.

The power of ERP with BI

An ERP system that includes BI tools can create a powerful synergy that enhances the value of business data and improves decision-making. It is the best solution for creating a complete view of the business and its performance. With all corporate data available in a single repository, everyone can see the same information which improves organizational transparency.