Chief financial officers (CFOs) are an integral part of their companies, helping guide businesses with their investments, especially regarding IT applications. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools are some of the most important apps used on a daily basis, thanks to the software's diverse functionality. CFOs who want to improve their decision-making may be able to do so by relying more on ERP tools moving forward.

Benoit Gruber, vice president of product and alliances at Sage ERP X3, recently explained that today's CFOs are being asked to do more regarding their input into corporate projects, all while assisting in the overall growth of their businesses. Gruber cited a Korn/Ferry International survey from last year which found approximately 52 percent of CFOs are concerned with revenue opportunities for their firms.

So how can these decision-makers benefit from an ERP implementation? Gruber noted that such software provides a single view of critical operations.

"ERP solutions offer value by integrating data from across departments, or entire organizations, and automating key processes. For instance, ERP removes the need for invoice and order processing to be conducted manually, therefore freeing up the finance team to focus on alternative value-adding task," Gruber explained.

ERP also allows personnel to to gain real-time insight into financial functions, Gruber added, making it possible for these executives to manage expenditures, control stock and analyze customer orders effectively.

The benefits of real-time access
Real-time data access is a defining characteristic of current operations, especially for employees who perform functions outside of the office. This capability has become even more popular in recent years, thanks to the rapid adoption of cloud computing. The technology is available through the Internet, so it is easy for staff members in the field to access enterprise applications and other work-related content from anywhere, regardless of their physical location.

Cloud-based environments give new meaning to employee collaboration and communication. Firms planning an ERP deployment that want to experience all of the benefits of real-time ERP access should strongly consider launching a cloud-based platform.

CFOs admit struggles with ERP
CFOs who truly want to maximize their companies' investments in ERP suites need to have the right support in place to do so. Some service providers are simply not equipped to handle certain client needs, while others are suitable for helping businesses operating across a number of different industries.

Researching potential vendors is a must in the ERP landscape, which is riddled with complications and sluggish deployments. Panorama Consulting found that only 35 percent of organizations achieved ERP implementations that stayed within budget. More than one-third of respondents said their ERP launches exceeded initial` forecasts by at least 26 percent, CFO reported.

"Organizations looking to shave costs and time typically (and regrettably) nix the business case and other key measurement activities in an effort to get the system installed quickly and cheaply," Panorama Consulting explained, according to the news source.

So what is keeping firms from achieving successful ERP deployments? The survey found that almost half of respondents said their systems did not deliver even 50 percent of the expected functionality, 25 percent of companies said their projects became larger in scope, while another 17 percent said their businesses experienced unforeseen challenges that limited progress, CFO reported.

Organizations that take the time to select the most efficient software and partner with a vendor that can support their current operational demands and any future ones can improve their chances of avoiding shortcomings that are all too common for businesses in the ERP market.