23 Jan 2013 7:18 AM Choose a business solution that offers integrated business intelligence capabilities Selecting a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution presents you with a golden opportunity to improve operational control, boost your people's productivity, and gain new insight to take your business forward confidently. But the selection process can be tricky at times, and there are plenty of chances to take a wrong turn. We've created a 10-point evaluation checklist to help you stay on track. We're examining one item from the checklist each week over a 10-week period. So far, we've analyzed six points (follow the individual links for each complete post): Goes beyond traditional ERP Offers deployment flexibility and choice Features strong customer-vendor relationships Integrates easily with other LOB applications Delivers ease of use Provides cost predictability This week, we direct your attention to finding a solution that offers business intelligence capabilities to help you cut through thickets of information and uncover insights that point the way forward. Don't settle for a picture of the past, take a look into the future. A business system that collects and maintains accurate historical information about your organization's performance and financial results is helpful for auditing, reporting, compliance, and other purposes. But why stop there? The right business management solution includes embedded business intelligence and analytical tools that help you dissect your historical information and reassemble it in new ways. This enables you to transform data into new insights you can use to: Trim costs now and reduce or avoid cost escalation in the future. Proactively examine sales by product, store, or promotional offer, for example, and then take corrective action to bring lagging performers with high cost of goods sold up to standard. Identify best practices and implement them across your entire business. Uncover growth opportunities and pursue those that hold the greatest potential. Compare key performance indicators (KPIs) by geography, or product line, or manufacturer, or distributor. Use this new data to model different scenarios that predict the results you might achieve if you implemented each option. Then invest in the opportunity(ies) with the greatest probability of success-highest return on investment (ROI), fastest payback, lowest risk, deepest market penetration-however you define success. Solve problems quickly, or prevent them from occurring in the first place. A large order has come in for a high-priority customer but you are running low on inventory and your primary supplier is out of stock. Quickly identify new vendor options, connect with other suppliers to fulfill the sale and exceed your customer's expectations. Spot new competitive threats, changing market conditions, or underperforming business partners. Then take proactive, preemptive action before your competition can react. A business solution from Microsoft helps you gain forward-looking insight Your business information is far more than a static archive. A business solution from Microsoft helps you transform it-mine it, repurpose it, and extract insights from it that help you take your business forward with confidence. How? For starters, it allows you to integrate all the parts of your business into a unified whole; you achieve overall visibility into your business operations for greater control. A business solution from Microsoft also boosts your people's productivity with built-in workflows, integration with Microsoft Excel and Word for easy drill-down and custom analyses, and more. It works like and with other Microsoft products and technologies your people already use, so they can, for example, create, modify, and run reports with little or no additional training or license costs. Don't rely on the rear-view mirror to take your business forward. The pace is too fast, there are too many bends in the road, and like all journeys, you'll encounter surprises. You need to be looking forward, so you can act decisively, proactively. Choose a business management solution from Microsoft and gain insights that help you look and move forward. Customer Success Story Small and midsize organizations around the world trust business solutions from Microsoft to help them transform static historical information into forward-looking insight. Here's just one example: check out the productivity and profitability gains realized by a supplier of fresh fruit to leading UK supermarkets. Poupart Limited "The tremendous power of [the solution] for me is its ability to drill down to the lowest level, to understand what's happening.... It's not just the quality of the information, it's also the speed of the information.... And if questions come up, we can answer with a few clicks of the mouse. That's the power ... which is fantastic for us." Robin Dawson, Group Finance Director Needs Benefits More efficient data collection/collation Robust logistics planning capabilities Integration with other Microsoft products and technologies Process automation, from forecasting through invoicing-ideally, paperless End-to-end supply chain integration Efficient, paperless transaction processing Accessible real-time information, integration with Microsoft Excel and other Microsoft products Ability to absorb more information, and transform it into insight for more accurate forecasting and pricing Profitability gains from streamlined processes Join us next week for part 8 of our blog series, when we'll help you check to see if vendors you're considering can be counted on to deliver ongoing innovation. Until then, learn more about a business solution from Microsoft, take a product test drive, or register for an upcoming webcast.