Often, Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMB) get their start using home-grown systems and those they’ve pieced together for specific purposes within their operations. However, as time passes and the organization grows, those same systems don’t scale and can hinder a business’ competitiveness because of poor performance. That’s where Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) comes into the picture. An ERP system is one that integrates all your business’ essential operations into one interface, connecting the data you need to the departments that need it.
Providing both the visibility and the tools necessary to scale with growth, ERP’s triggering and automating of actions enables SMB workforces to focus on more of the front-end essentials, like sales and ordering, while the back-end is managed by powerful software modules designed to automate repetitive processes.
Modern ERP Systems Are Built With SMBs In Mind
In the past, ERP systems were more often than not implemented onsite through a complex and costly process, which required substantial resources from a business not only to erect, but also maintain. With the advent of cloud technology, such costly implementations and maintenance practices are a thing of the past. SMBs can more readily afford the costs associated with implementing an ERP system and the burdens of maintenance are assumed by the provider. This will allow SMBs to maintain competitiveness as well as direct their in-house resources to better use following the offloading of repetitive operations to the business process automation capabilities that ERP software provides.
This is not to say that on-premises and hosted options are no longer available. Maybe your business would prefer an ERP solution be installed, run, and maintained within a local environment. This is the traditional approach to implementation and it is still available from virtually all providers. However, it is important to keep in mind that this is the costliest option for implementation, training, and maintenance.
Access to relevant and actionable data is another key component of ERP software that allows SMBs to operate as effectively as a larger company with more resources. Whether data is your product or helps your business run more efficiently, the business intelligence (BI) provided by ERP systems is an invaluable advantage to an enterprise of any size. Many SMBs might argue that they already have data. Maybe they have so much they don’t know what to do with it all. The response to that is: it’s not enough to have the data, you need to able to make sense of it all and then put it to use. This is the key component of ERP that makes it worth its weight in gold. The insights an ERP system can provide using your company’s data can prove invaluable. It may allow you to identify and rectify bottlenecks or more effectively target customers with marketing campaigns. By maintaining a lean staff with an efficient ERP system, your company can do more with less to accelerate growth and nurture your bottom line.
ERP Functionality And Flexibility
Consider the core components of an ERP system, which includes finances, procurement, and the like, as functionality that most businesses will want to take advantage of no matter what their given industry. Additional functionality is available in an array of tools that apply to a vast spectrum of industries.
Manufacturers want more distribution, logistics, and robust manufacturing execution system (MES) capabilities. A food processor will want a system places more focus on the aspects of batch processing, compliance, and other pertinent operations. ERP offers businesses of all sizes the freedom to pick and choose the functionalities that apply directly to their business. With over 20 years of industry best practices incorporated into system designs, SMBs can rest assured that they are getting a comprehensive solution that addresses their individual needs.
The Human Components Of ERP
A Major hurdle in ERP selection for most SMBs is getting the executive suite on board. Key decision makers need to agree that ERP is a good move for the business. Following the proper procedure and implementation, it’s all but guaranteed a positive outcome. However, implementing an ERP solution is more than just a change in technical systems.
The implementation of an ERP system requires a mindset that your whole company must get behind. Save for a few individuals, most of your workforce may be changing the way they approach daily tasks in a big way. Many ERP systems go to great lengths to make their software as user-friendly and intuitive as possible. Training is thoughtful and extensive from providers and vendors because so much of your company’s success relies on your employees using the software as intended.
Is your workforce often on the move? do you need staff on the floor as connected as those in the office? Adopting an ERP solution with mobile functionality may be the answer you are looking for adn there are many ERP systems that excel in delivering mobile-ready solutions.
Addressing these issues ahead of a go-live event is the best way to ensure your success with a new ERP system. Connecting with a certified and proven consultant is a great way to map out your change management strategy in the early stages of the transition.
Tips For SMBs Considering ERP Systems
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for any business when it comes to shopping for ERP solutions, there are a few points to consider that can narrow down your best candidates.
- Outlining your company’s needs will give you a good starting point from which to develop your organization’s ERP strategy. Think about the key features you need now as well as those you’d like to incorporate, or at least evaluate, for future functionality as your business grows.
- Your budget will be one of the most important components of the process to consider. Deployment method will factor into this as well, as onsite options will run a higher price tag than cloud-based ERP systems.
- Training will be a huge component of getting your workforce up to speed and identifying how much time you must spend on training your employees will go a long way into selecting a solution that is more user-ready out of the box or one that is more technical and requiring of a more thorough set-up.
This list of considerations when approaching an ERP implementation is truly extensive and we couldn’t cover them all in a single blog post. These are a few of the most important attributes to evaluate. Beyond these broad characteristics, more detailed components of an ERP system can be discussed with providers, vendors, and consultants, who are prepared to work in tandem with you to create a comprehensive strategy for your implementation.
About Encompass Solutions
Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.
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