by Monica Shepherd, TradeGecko
For SMEs (small-medium sized enterprise), efficiency and integration are key to managing time and processes. Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP, integrates internal and external information across your entire organization. It allows for the transfer of information between all areas or departments of your business, from finance, manufacturing and HR to sales and service, through a single streamlined system.
While these various departments generally have their own systems or applications relevant to their part of the process, ERP integrates these so that each can communicate and share information, ultimately resulting in more efficient, productive and accurate performance. ERP systems work in ‘real time’, providing up-to-date information without the need for system updates, meaning everyone across the departments can see, and update, the information live.
How can ERP work for my small business?
While many consider that ERP systems are only effective for larger enterprises with big teams to handle implementation, updates, reporting and analysis, there are actually small business ERP systems available which, while being less complex, are designed to effectively manage the core facets required of smaller businesses.
In fact, ERP is invaluable for smaller businesses in that it allows them to run larger operations without the need for extra personnel.
In particular, ERP offers effective solutions for wholesale, distribution and manufacturing and can cover:
- project management
- inventory management
- Sales/order management
- Customer relationship management
- HR / Payroll
For example, when a customer order is placed, it generally takes a paper-based journey from department to department, being handled several times in and out of various trays or inboxes and being re-keyed in various systems with potential for errors and delays, and with limited information regarding its status. With integrated ERP software, all departments can view and update an order as soon as it is placed – less handling, less administration time, less room for discrepancies, and most of all, less expense.
Scalable ERP solutions
ERP software used through the cloud means scalability and reduced hardware costs. For smaller businesses, maintaining processes or systems with your business growth can get costly – it may mean hiring new staff or implementing new programs or operations. But with ERP software, users can easily tailor their applications to suit the needs and demands of their business as it grows or changes.
Customized control of your ERP
These systems can be customized to your industry or business requirements, essentially providing you with a tailor-made system without the big expense (many software providers offer flexible options, meaning you do not have to purchase a whole package if you don’t need it). Support and knowledge is offered by the provider itself, as and when required, eliminating the need for specialized helpdesk personnel and reducing the cost of IT maintenance.
Drive decision-making with business analytics
Best of all, when it comes to reporting and analysis, the system does the hard work for you, providing comprehensive data at the click of a button to give you the insight you need to make efficient, informed decisions.
Where do I get started with ERP?
Virtual ERP – Choosing the right SaaS applications that connect together creates a virtual ERP system tailored to your business needs.
Nowadays there is no point going for an all-in-one system that will take months to implement and with their extortionary costs, and lack of design, it makes much more sense to connect the parts you need together.
We will be diving deeper into how to create a virtual ERP system over the next few blog posts.
Stay tuned for more…
Monica Shepherd is one of the core TradeGecko contributors who specializes in business to business related advice. Monica also runs Mark My Words Ltd, a New Zealand based company that helps developing businesses with their content strategy, SEO and marketing voice.