Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) takes all your core business operations such as finance, HR, customer relationship management (CRM), warehouse etc. and integrates them via one unified system. But ERP can take time and upfront costs to implement effectively, and this can put business’s off. Despite this, applied correctly and the benefits will outweigh the initial effort. So, how can ERP boost your firm’s productivity, improve your analytics and ultimately save you money?
The business benefits of ERP
Boost your productivity By automating routine manual tasks and processes, ER can help you to save valuable time and remove the likelihood of human error, duplication and rework. But more than this, ERP also creates a single, integrated infrastructure that works across your organisation – and so simplifies and streamlines business processes. When one person in one department makes a change, that information is automatically updated across your organisation. With silos one of the biggest barriers to business success, ERP helps to break them down, allowing people in different teams and locations to work more collaboratively. So, employees perform better, get more work done faster, and spend more on those tasks that make you money.
Improve your analytics The sheer volume of information and documents that need managing is a headache for most businesses. But what if you could capture the power of this information, and use it to give your organisation a competitive edge?ERP lets you harness your data and can lead to improved performance at all levels of your organisation. It provides a real-time view of data – available anytime, anywhere – with easy to use reporting and analysis that empowers intelligent decision-making. For example, with an ERP system, you can see which workflows are efficient, and which ones are losing you money.
Save you money A well as the licensing fees, there are a wide range of additional costs when choosing an ERP system. This includes implementation, training, customisations, maintenance, support and upgrades. However, over time, by streamlining processes across your business, ERP can help to improve overall efficiencies and lower your operating costs. So, an ERP implementation has the power to deliver long-lasting value for your business by eliminating waste and boosting productivity. While ERP was once only affordable to large-scale industries, the rise in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions (also referred to as cloud computing) has made ERP software accessible to SMEs. In fact, designed for small and medium-sized businesses, SaaS solutions like SAP Business One have a much lower total cost of ownership. Reducing hardware, software, maintenance and support costs, you get genuine enterprise technology at a fraction of the price.
What to look for when choosing an ERP system?
While ERP can be a powerful business tool, you have to find the right solution for you. Here are just some of the things you should consider when choosing an ERP system. Cloud vs on-premise ERPOne of the first decisions you will have to make when investing in an ERP system is whether to go for a cloud-based or on-premise solution.
- On-premise: Installed on your business’s hardware and servers and managed by your IT staff
- Cloud: Provided as part of a subscription and delivered over the internet. The ERP software is managed by the software vendor.
With an on-premise solution, you retain control over data security, which can be important in industries with strict regulations. The system can also be designed to match your exact needs and incorporate your existing technology. However, on-premise solutions are likely to be time-consuming to implement and manage, and will require substantial upfront and ongoing investment. On the other hand, cloud-based solutions can be up and running in a matter of days. They are also affordable to set-up, with transparent support and maintenance fees (as part of a subscription). However, the available software may not support one of your essential business processes (although it is usually possible to customise).
Have you found the right software partner?
There are hundreds of ERP vendors to choose from, but it’s vital you find the right partner for you. Look for a business that can offer the right solution according to your needs (on-premise or cloud) and provide systems that let you start small and scale up as required. You should also ask about their previous projects, industry experience, details of any Service Level Agreements (SLAs), and if they can provide a smooth, managed and rapid implementation.
Have you found the right software?
As with any business investment, weighing up your options is a must. Look at SAP, Oracle, MSCRM and Salesforce solutions that will adapt and grow with your business long term. To make the most of your ERP solution, it also makes sense to invest in one that meets the requirements of your industry. Not only will this make implementation more straightforward, but it will also keep costs down as you will need fewer customisations.