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What Is the Problem with External Data Sources?

By Wayne Thomas June 13, 2019 by Wayne Thomas
External Data Sources

The simple answer: external data sources, such as spreadsheets, kill integration, process efficiency, and visibility. They can cripple a company’s ability to react nimbly, to meet and exceed business goals, and build sustainable and enduring customer relationships. At their best, spreadsheets are good at analyzing historical data without being able to truly excel (no pun intended) at performing real-time analysis. Nor are they effective for collaborative Planning and Forecasting.

Moreover, depending too heavily on spreadsheets is risky. There is the risk of formula error, risk of input error, access control risk, data import risk, security risk —and that may be just the tip of the iceberg. Spreadsheet solutions are particularly perilous because the developer often doesn’t properly document what the intent, business value, and problem statement are. As a result, when the developer leaves the organization, there is no knowledge transfer or continuity. This could also lead to compliance issues for publicly traded companies.

According to Market Watch, up to 88% of spreadsheets contain errors. On reflection, that’s no surprise; after all, spreadsheets are compiled, accessed, and edited by fallible humans instead of factual master and transactional data.

Embracing a Single Source of Truth

The speed, scale, and complexity of doing business needs an end-to-end solution with the ability to handle core processes, data management and analytics: a well-proven and tested environment specific to industry verticals with a singular integrity.

Yet for many, the ultimate decision to disengage from long-term loyalty to spreadsheets requires some soul-searching. The tipping point to migrate to a more evolved informational system — a digital system — often occurs when business leaders begin mulling over questions like these:

Is it becoming more challenging to gain visibility into the workings of our company?

  • Is it increasingly difficult to reconcile and consolidate data?
  • Are there growing alignment problems between various parts of the supply chain; for example, order management, sales and inventory management?
  • Has access to information and information-sharing become harder to achieve?
  • Are we more and more concerned about remaining compliant with burgeoning financial regulations?
  • Are we in the process of adding new sites, new sales channels, or new markets?
  • Do we truly feel confident that we can meet the promises we make to our customer?

Shifting to a digital solution and requiring all data and all teams to live within the SAP system — as opposed to depending on siloed information systems — puts in place the building blocks that drive change and ongoing transformation. When companies make a commitment to owning the functionality, information, and responsibility for the new system, they can expect to recognize these benefits:

  • Increased security which keeps data safe
  • Improved productivity as redundant processes are removed
  • More streamlined work execution with increased accuracy
  • Operational flexibility and mobility are enhanced
  • Costs are contained and/or reduced while service levels increase
  • Integration means all key role players look at the same data housed in one place
  • Forecasting and reporting becomes more accurate and useful
  • Cross-functional collaboration increases as does efficiency and effective communication

The Reveal integration model can help balance service levels, cost, process, and inventory.  You can gain insight into how this can be realized by reading our white paper, “Evolution of Integrated Business Solutions Through Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems”.



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