Occasionally we run across articles in industry trade rags that have little to do with ERP, but still manage to enlighten. Recently, an article by Seth Robinson, Director of Technology Analysis for CompTIA, in PC industry periodical Channel Pro — which bills itself as “the insider’s guide to SMB” — revealed the results of a 2014 industry survey conducted by CompTIA, in a study on workflow automation and communications. (CompTIA is basically a trade association for computer dealers.)
In it, the author pointed out that “there is no single product that can be purchased and implemented to give a company automation of a wide range of processes. Instead, they noted, it requires a strategic approach that involves three primary components:
- Software used for discrete functions (like invoicing or payroll)
- Connections between applications to start and end workflow and pass work from one stage to another
- A central repository for data
Actually, in many cases, this pretty well defines ERP if you throw in some hardware / networking / storage. The article goes on to point out how too often information is too widely dispersed, held in separate silos, inaccessible to some… all the tropes typically applied to the dysfunction that companies are trying to rectify through ERP in the first place. Often, they note, the technology is piecemeal, or companies lack the skills to execute an automation strategy.
So, CompTIA interviewed a few dozen companies, to identify those areas where they most hoped to see workflow improvements. Their conclusions:
- Nearly 50% of companies wanted to automate their workflow (translation: applied ERP) to eliminate “bottlenecks that slow things down”
- Nearly as many do so in order to eliminate “duplication of work”
- Nearly 40% to fix poor “interaction between departments”
- A third were out to fix the problem of “locating documents”
- And over a fourth lacked “business process visibility”
Proof once again that everyone wants the benefits attached to today’s ERP systems and the services that go around them, regardless of what they call it. Relatively few know how to make it happen.