— VANDANA DEVI SREEJITH
Undoubtedly one of the most popular tools in institutes and establishments around the world, Microsoft Excel is a handy software program that helps laymen make sense of a large volume of data by organizing and storing them, as well as by allowing them to format or analyze data with the help of in-built formulas. Enterprise Resource Planning (or ERP) on the other hand, is a software that has been steadily gaining momentum as an all-inclusive wonder which delivers an integrated suite of applications that can automate business functions across an organization, thus helping it work seamlessly as one unit. Since both these tools have a steady fan following, let’s take a closer look at their features to help you decide which solution will benefit your institute more:-
For the past three decades, institutes across the world have been relying on Microsoft’s multi-tasking spreadsheets to help them navigate and track data, as well as to automatically calculate sums, averages and totals, produce graphs and charts, create budgets and forecast future performance. Excel’s widespread popularity can be attributed to its flexibility and speed, its massive capacity to perform calculations with user-friendly commands, and its ability to automatically update charts in PowerPoint. It is a convenient professional tool for analyses and statistics, and definitely a familiar software for most people.
Enterprise Resource Planning
For institutes looking to manage their business functions within a centralized and integrated system, ERP offers a comprehensive solution that helps them gather and organize business data through an integrated software suite. Everything from accounting, admissions and administration to batch management and exam scheduling can be automated under the ERP umbrella. A reliable ERP software not only gives you timely access to accurate reports, but also allows you to share relevant information across all departments, batches or branches of your institute.
ERP vs Excel
Although Excel happens to be a powerful tool to analyze and store data, it relies heavily on manual input for all its functions – thus being heavily susceptible to data entry errors and data manipulation. Different departments may rely on department specific excel sheets, thus leading to duplication and possible inconsistency of reports. An institute head might find that the data across various excel sheets are not just confusing or misleading, but may also have consumed valuable hours of his/her workforce. Moreover, a system crash or a careless sleight of hand may result in the deletion of important files, which may be hard to recover. ERP systems, on the other hand, eliminates unnecessary multiple inputs of data by providing a single, accessible source of reliable data for the entire institute to use. It is a total business management software, and not a stand-alone program like Excel. ERP applications have a much wider applicability in comparison to Excel, and allows you to co-ordinate the operations of your institute in its entirety from a central user location. An ERP application can even be installed on and accessed from a smartphone, thus allowing users the flexibility to access data real-time from anywhere in the world. Moreover, an ERP software has the ability to run smoothly and uninterruptedly without the need for any manual inputs, and gives its owner the power to control and grant access to users to view or modify data, as he/she deems fit.
It should therefore come as no surprise that advanced ERP applications are the reason that small and mid-sized organizations, especially in the field of teaching, have cropped up in these last few years, to confidently take on their more established rivals in the market. Unlike Excel, an ERP system happens to be a smart business investment for any institute looking to level the playing field with their competitors. For example, saving files locally on Excel can end up being deleted or lost, but files on an ERP software is stored in the cloud, making it a much safer (and faster!) option. Notifications are in-built into the ERP software, ensuring that you never miss an update. It also saves you time looking for the right data, which can be accessed through a well-organized dashboard, rather than spending countless minutes looking for the same file saved on Excel.
One of the most wonderful features about the ERP system is how data gets linked automatically and organized systematically within the software, thus giving you a clear workflow of projects and enabling transparency of data. While Excel poses a risk of data being manipulated by anyone with user rights to it, automatic statistics with a stipulated number of fixed fields in an ERP software ensures that the risk of changing formulas is mostly negated. Unlike Excel, an ERP system is capable of linking documents, emails, invoices and even quotations with the right contact automatically, enabling faster data access. It also enables you and your team to work on, and even track, one or more files simultaneously, thus fostering team work and productivity. In fact, a very significant aspect for institutes envisaging growing success in the future, is an ERP system’s ability to give you a simple overview of your operations and a one-shot SWOT analysis of your business, thus helping you analyze the next best move forward.
No doubt, Excel is simple enough to grasp and use, but there ends its advantage. From the standpoint of accuracy of figures and security of institute-sensitive information, to efficient running of operations and greater clarity on reliable data, ERP makes a strong case all the way through. Unlike spreadsheets, ERP applications are both time and cost efficient, and allows everyone in your institute to access and rely on the same set of data, that can be monitored by a centrally appointed user, thus ensuring that the reports and facts are current and up-to-date – which in the long run, helps those at the helm to make the right decisions at the right time!
— VANDANA DEVI SREEJITH