ERP Solution-I’ve said it before: Implementing the right technology can be the best decision your business can make. In my last article, I discussed customer relationship management (CRM) software and offered small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) tips on what to consider when choosing a solution. Another technology that can propel SMBs to new levels is enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
ERPs are designed to connect all the different areas and processes of a company that are needed to run the business, including inventory and order management, accounting or even HR applications. In its simplest form, an ERP aggregates these areas into one system to streamline processes and data across an organization. This means that employees in different departments and locations can rely on a single view of information for their specific needs.
While ERPs and CRMs have similar functions, the latter is oriented more toward the management of customers and increasing sales; ERPs are generally concerned with internals systems and processes for reducing costs.
Just as a CRM can help SMBs better understand their customers, an ERP system can help SMBs get their arms around operations. ERPs, like CRMs, should be viewed as tools in the technology toolbox and not as a magic bullet for solving systemic issues within your company. When you properly implement and utilize them, ERPs can help your business perform like a well-oiled engine.
For nearly two decades, I have worked with software solutions, including ERP systems, and have extensive experience implementing them. Here are several things to consider when you’re seeking an ERP solution.
Figure Out Your Requirements
When you’re ready for an ERP, begin by figuring out what your requirements are. Start by identifying shortfalls, challenges, inconsistencies, processes or systems that are inefficient, waste money or slow productivity. Seek input from senior management, IT teams, end users and others who are engaged in specific areas of your business.
A common mistake I see at the early stage of ERP shopping is that people are often focused on pricing, bells and whistles, and even the reputation of the solution. These things are important, but you should generally consider them further down the line.
After you’ve sorted out your requirements, look to see what features, functionalities and technologies different ERPs offer. Most have a dizzying array of options. To avoid being overwhelmed, take a big-picture approach.