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Supply Chain Logistics for Small Businesses with ERP

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You have a delicate balancing act with supply chain logistics. Your small business doesn’t have endless amounts of warehouse space or the cash flow to support an unlimited inventory. You need the proper inventory numbers to keep on hand to do business without over-committing to too many products. You may have handled this balancing act with a basic spreadsheet or application in the past, but when you supply larger companies, they expect you to have a supply chain management system ready to go.
An enterprise resource planning solution provides a system that integrates all of your back-office functions, including supply chain logistics, into one centralized system. While these solutions originally catered to enterprise-level businesses, cloud-based solutions have improved accessibility for small businesses. Small Business Computing reports that 33 percent of small businesses have already implemented, or are considering implementing, an ERP solution. Here are a few ways an ERP gets you on top of your supply chain logistics.
Centralized Data
Many small businesses have an infrastructure with multiple purpose-made applications used by a single department, team or sometimes just one person. You end up with dozens of applications used for business processes with limited integration between each system. Tracking inventory and figuring out exactly what’s going on with your supply chain is impossible with this configuration, since your data is spread throughout the organization. An ERP solution consolidates all of these applications into a single system, so your data is clearly visible.
Streamline Your Business Processes
Inefficiency in your supply chain business processes also makes it harder to maintain logistical visibility. A single system brings your entire company on the same page, standardizes your business processes and helps you smooth out any problems in the supply chain process. For example, if a vendor needs to order inventory, your ordering systems are tied to accounting, fulfillment and customer service. Fulfillment starts preparing the order for shipment, accounting sends out an invoice or checks the vendor’s current credit with your business, and customer service or an account manager is prepared to handle any post-sales inquiries. All of this happens seamlessly under an ERP with significant automation.
Improve Accountability
A consolidated system also helps you improve supply chain accountability. You deal with a lot of moving parts, and a disruption early on in the process can cause a domino effect. Under a non-integrated system, the last person or team to touch the product often gets blamed, even when the problem occurs much earlier.
An ERP provides better ownership of each step so you can understand exactly what’s happening with inventory from start to finish. Greater accountability allows you to streamline and improve processes, identify weak points and handle other problems within the chain. You gain a great deal of data in the ERP across all departments, which you can analyze for valuable business analytics.
Small businesses may shy away from ERPs due to their origins as enterprise tools, but many modern ERP solutions are the right size for small and mid-market businesses. You get the features you need for handling your growing supply chain needs without getting bogged down with a lot of features that don’t work for your current scale. You simplify your tech infrastructure, improve your visibility and increase business intelligence into the supply chain.

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