Should Suppliers, Partners, Customers, Front Office Facing Employees have access to your ERP software system?
Accounting software has revolutionized the way financial records are captured and accessed. It is significantly faster and more accurate than old-school ledgers and journals. What makes it even more powerful is when your accounting software integrates with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) package that ties the various company departments together.
Such systems streamline the workflows, reduce human error and save a significant amount of time. Data entered on one system or platform is automatically updated on all other systems. This gives you accurate, real-time data at all times.
Thanks to the growth of cloud-based ERP and accounting software, relevant data and information can be accessed remotely. This is an excellent feature and benefits the enterprise in many ways. Salespeople at a client can quickly view stock levels or outstanding invoices remotely. Accountants or managers away from the office are able to keep an eye on financial and other matters from anywhere with internet access.
The ERP system can integrate stores, finance, CRM, e-commerce and other data into one unified system that updates in real-time and is accessible remotely.
This has advantages as well as disadvantages. Security is a big issue. While you want salespeople or others to have access to client information and potential account issues, you do not want them to see company expenses and turnover, for example.
Fortunately, current accounting software has intelligent access control and you can determine exactly who has access to what information. This can be changed at any time if there is a problem or potential threat.
The advantages of this are massive and will increase productivity, enhance customer service, improve data integrity and create a synergy between the various departments.
Access for frontline staff
By empowering frontline customer-facing staff with access to client account information, you will improve service delivery and save time. If the front office staff have to run to the accounts department every time there is a query they will take longer to resolve customer issues and take up valuable time from the accounts staff.
Modern accounting software allows you to specify exactly who has access to what information. It also tracks which users accessed the data and when. The company can pick and choose exactly what they can and can’t see and allow them to make changes to certain fields while other fields they can only view.
This will improve the customer experience by having one person resolve the query or problem and allowing them to do it with minimal delays.
The same applies to salespeople out in the field. They can remotely check on a client’s account status or last order, for example. They will be able to deal with client queries or issues on the spot without having to refer it back to the accounting department. Again, this saves time and improves the relationship with the client.
When the person that received the query or complaint can access the relevant data immediately and resolve the issue themselves, service will improve and the customer issue will be resolved with minimal hassle. This will ultimately increase profits and improve customer loyalty.
Obviously, you must set access limitations so that they’re only able to view data and information that might be relevant to their customer service. You do not want to give them full access to all accounting fields. This is a simple process to configure within quality accounting software systems.
Access for customers
By allowing customers to access their accounts online, through your accounting software, you will save a huge amount of time in dealing with account queries and issues while improving the customer experience at the same time.
Again, you have to ensure they only have access to their own information and you must have security in place to ensure that only authorized customers have access to the information. The last thing you want is for anyone to have access to the confidential information of other customers.
In certain cases, it might be useful for customers to have access to make certain changes. They should be able to update their company or personal information if it changes. This will save time as the client will not have to call in and deal with a staff member when they can simply do it online and the information automatically updates.
A good illustration of this is a cell phone company. If an individual has remote access to view their account online and make changes to certain fields, this will save time and improve service levels while also ensuring important data is captured and up to date.
The other benefit of giving customers access to their account is that payments will be faster. If a client has a billing query and they can view the account history online, they should be able to resolve their query and make payments. If they have to call in and wait for answers, payments will be delayed.
Also of benefit to both parties is where a customer can submit an order and it is immediately updated on the accounting software system. This will speed up invoicing and delivery time and improve cash flow as accounts will be settled faster.
Access for suppliers
Allowing suppliers access to information relevant to their business with the company will also streamline the process, reduce queries and save time.
Suppliers should be able to view information on deliveries, outstanding invoices and payments. This will strengthen the relationship between the two parties and improve service delivery from the supplier. It will also help to reduce errors and improve delivery times. If there is an account issue, for example, a supplier might withhold delivery until payment is made or the query is resolved. By granting them access to their relevant information online, they can easily see what invoices have been paid and what is outstanding. This will reduce delays caused by unresolved accounting queries.
Access for partners
This depends on the nature of the partner relationship. In certain circumstances, fairly broad access should be permitted. A franchise is a good example of this. If the franchisor has access to aspects of your financials, they will be able to assist and guide you in certain circumstances. The can also view turnover in order to invoice you for franchise fees. This reduces time for the accounts department and ensures that accurate data is received by the partner.
Other forms of partner relationships might call for more restricted access to specific data and financial information only.
There are many benefits to integration between your accounting software system and your frontline staff, customers, suppliers and partners.
It will save time, money, and speed up workflows. This will improve customer service, delivery times and improve cash flow. It will also reduce human error where data is manually captured internally. Financial and account data will be more accurate and available in real time.