Taking an integrated business management solution approach to meeting midsized business needs

André Harrington, Manager Global Delivery Unit SAP, at T-Systems in South Africa gives us his views on integrated business management solutions.

June 14, 2011

Today’s medium-sized businesses are faced with a conundrum of sorts; retaining the very characteristics that led to their success – speed, flexibility and strong and personal customer relations – while continuing to grow.

The reality is while a business’ initial ICT infrastructure was more than adequate to set it on the path of success it is now unable to cope with more complex daily tasks demanded by more users and customers.

Furthermore, these systems are often haphazardly integrated with new solutions, with ICT managers hoping to plug some holes while the infrastructure tethers on the brink of a meltdown.

An ineffective technology infrastructure can become a nightmare of sorts and realistically a serious impediment to remaining competitive and agile.
Responsiveness and timely decision making can be hindered by systems that cannot scale to handle the increasing number of transactions generated by a growing customer base.

Moreover, disjointed and non-integrated systems can hamper visibility, impacting business operations, forecasting and planning.

Indeed, it becomes a real challenge to achieve a unified company mission when each operation or branch office is using an independent legacy system that provides little consolidated visibility into the sharing of business processes – transcending individual operations.

The solution

The good news is the above are not unique but pretty much issues most growing companies have to deal with today.  The solution clearly lies in the ability to establish a single, integrated business management solution – an all-in-one solution – that will enable you to gain the most from your growing business while knowing your system is consolidating and meeting the needs of sales, finance, accounting, HR and logistics.

Moreover, this integrated business solution must have the ability to readily adapt to market changes as well as the flexibility to expand to business-driven changes such as growth, reorganisation and general operational evolution.

Fortunately, as the ICT marketplace continues to evolve and mature so does its service offerings.  And today we have integrated business management solutions or all-in-ones that do meet the integrated, business end-to-end needs of midsized companies.

Integrated business management solutions literally manage everything – from financials, HR, procurement, inventory, development, customer services to marketing.

The pillars

Today’s midsized all-in-one solutions offer an integrated software solution that contains the following pillars:

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) that manages financials, accounting, human resources, operations and corporate services • Customer Relationship Management  (CRM) which efficiently conducts all aspects of customer relationships – from marketing to sales to service • Business Intelligence (BI) that enables the organisation to gain insight and improve decision-making with tools for financial and operational reporting and analysis.
Best practices – industry-specific configuration, methodologies and business processes based vendors and their partners’ decades of experience in countries and resultant market verticals across the globe.

A technology platform that enables the business to lay a solid foundation, quickly and cost-effectively from which to grow and adapt to change in business needs.

Service-Orientated Architecture into the mix An integrated business management solution also enables organisations to adopt a flexible Service-Orientated Architecture (SOA)  strategy easily as the platform is already unified and integrated.

Indeed, SOA and all-in-one solutions go hand-in-hand as the first is effectively an open architecture that allows organisations to group functionality around business processes and package it as interoperable services.

These interoperable services act as interchangeable process building blocks to deliver specific services to applications. This allows you to extend business processes, for example, from ordering to inventory to accounting – without having to change underlying applications.

Real-world benefits
So what are the real and tangible benefits you will gain from going the integrated business management solution or all-in-one route?  What lies at the very heart of this industry movement that is providing a quick and relatively pain-free solution to budding business across the globe including South Africa?

  1. Simplicity – The pretested, preconfigured software is configured to select hardware, which simplifies the buying process.
  2. Time savings – With preinstalled it takes less time to get up and running, delivering rapid time-to-value.
  3. Affordability – Your organisation benefits from lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)based on complete, pretested software.
  4. Best practices – you benefit from a best practices package for your industry, which includes templates and methodologies for rapid implementation, as well as documentation and preconfigured support for business process scenarios.

By André Harrington, Manager Global Delivery Unit SAP, at T-Systems in South Africa.

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