Enterprise resource planning (ERP) has long been the domain of really large companies but in recent years attention among ERP developers has turned to the SME market. Business owners can spend a great deal of time trying to find key pieces of information that may be stored in different systems and locations in the company. Such disjointed sales, accounting and operational processes reduce productivity and waste time, and having multiple systems means you can duplicate data which in turn leads to errors and greater delays. Ultimately the purpose of ERP implementation is to make your entire company run more efficiently.
Simply put ERP is a category of software that helps to manage and integrate all the aspects of a business. This might include product planning, purchasing of parts, manufacturing, inventories, customer and supplier interface, human resources, order tracking and of course, finance. One software system typically comprises different modules designed for each area of the business. There are multiple benefits to implementing an ERP system. You can eliminate redundant data entries, errors and costs, make smarter, faster decisions and respond quicker to customer needs or market changes. If your business has multiple office locations, ERP can connect these into a seamless network.
Fit for purpose
ERP systems have received bad press but this is largely due to the fact that companies, particularly SMEs, purchase large unwieldy ERP systems that are designed for larger enterprises. ERP systems like SAP Business One are specifically targeted at small to medium companies. “Unlike many other small business solutions on the market today, SAP’s Business One solution is a single application, eliminating the need for separate installations and complex integration of multiple modules which, in turn, reduces a customer’s risk and increases performance,” says Grant Bennet, channel sales manager at SAP. SAP Business One includes financial management, warehouse and production management, customer relationship management, purchasing, and reporting capabilities.
While size is one factor in determining whether you need an ERP system, industry is another. Every industry has its own unique business processes, requirements, and challenges and many ERP vendors, SAP included, offer packages designed for specific industries. SAP, for example, has over 550 industry-specific solutions for the manufacturing, retail, service and distribution industries. These include sectors as diverse as automotive and chemicals, to healthcare and media.When selecting an ERP vendor, choose a package that offers the full range of functions that your business will use. Avoid systems designed for large organisations – they will cost you a great deal of money and give you a low return on investment. As with migration to any new software system, you will need to spend time training your employees, so ask the vendor how fast they anticipate your business being up and running on the new system.