While many businesses have computerized their jobs, many systems are simply electronic versions of old-school paperwork—word processors for typing, spreadsheets for accounting, e-mail for correspondences, and presentation software for visual aids. These have improved business efficiency minimally. Information, file sharing, and workflow are only as efficient as the procedures devised by the company.
[related|post]What if there was a software suite to streamline the way we handle data, a system so smart it actually improves the business just by using the software? This new breed of business software is called Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, and at the forefront of its development is Microsoft’s Dynamics line.
The old way of computerizing a business was by setting up identical hardware and a uniform software package, updated and upgraded periodically. Microsoft calls such a system “single tier”—when all information is made available to the user by placing all of it in the immediate terminal, or computer, of each and every user. In such a system, the data is requested, copied, shared, and updated periodically across the board to each and every terminal. This is resource intensive and very inefficient.
But good workflows adapt, they’re not stagnant; Good workflows are flexible, they are dynamic. Microsoft’s newest productivity tool, Dynamics, has packaged software integration and efficient workflow into one sweet suite.
Dynamics “fully integrates all aspects of a business’s processes, so that everyone in the company is fully informed,” says Lyn Reyes, manager of Microsoft Dynamics for the Philippines. “Dynamics keeps track of a company’s engineering, manufacturing, purchasing, finance, inventory of materials or products, processing orders, and human resources information. It integrates internal and external management information across an entire organization, embracing finance and accounting, manufacturing, sales and service.”
ONE DATABASE, TWO LEVELS
Imagine what a company auditor has to do in a multi-branch restaurant business: She goes through the books and the POS (point of sale machines) to check daily sales, make projections, and generate reports—which need to be interpreted to help company executives make decisions. Accounting departments use a large part of the same information to manage taxes and purchases. Also, purchasing departments need similar aspects of the same information—to monitor inventory, determine best sellers, and pick products for phasing out.