“Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software” – Is it a thing for SMEs to adopt?
Enterprise Resource Planning Software conjures up images of huge databases, hi-tech operations and wired networks running through the length and breadth of a company.
The name evokes a certain “dreaded” complexity, which has limited many firms from trying it, citing constraints of budget and time.
However, the interesting irony being, the only reason one implements ERP System, is to achieve automated and integrated functional efficiency that is non-messy, dynamic and SIMPLE.
While many might be thorough with the concept of ERP software and things it can do for them, there is definitely a segment of business owners who would like to start with the most basic query – What is ERP?
Among the various web definitions, the one by NETSUITE (a leading ERP software provider) sums it up in a very easy to grasp language – “Take a step back and think about all of the various processes that are essential to running a business, including inventory and order management, accounting, human resources, customer relationship management (CRM), and beyond. At its most basic level, ERP software integrates these various functions into one complete system to streamline processes and information across the entire organization.”
So a good Enterprise Resource Planning Software would:
- Allow same information and data to be used by multiple functions and business units
- Help generate synchronized reporting and automation
- Make data independent of confusing and never-matching spreadsheets
- Aid process improvement and action with real time data visibility
- Ensure better adherence to compliances and financial standards
- Build a strong connect with customers by enabling relationship tracking
Why Small and mid-sized companies, too, require ERP software?
Consider these useful facts: A study by IBM on ERP implementation states that “35% of midsize businesses know they need to be easier to work with” and “97% out of the ‘best in class’ small to medium sized companies are already running ERP”.
Hence, it is a perfect time for the SMEs to consider ERP in the view of advantages that come along with it. Some of these selling points include:
- It makes your business faster and smarter by providing easy access to key information – a necessary thing to survive cut-throat midmarket competition
- Having too many software for different processes can add to the pain of management in the crucial growing years. ERP system helps to centralize the effort
- Boosts sales and customer satisfaction by making “live” updated data available to the customer executives and sales rep. No more scouting for scattered data.
- Lets you escape the nightmare of IT infrastructure and management by opting for cost-effective ERP packages that take away the responsibility of integration, customization, and maintenance
- Provides Business Intelligence support for quick and dynamic decisions and adjustments wherever necessary
- Reduces cost of ownership and operational risk associated with “tailor-made” legacy systems
Potential Bottlenecks in ERP Implementation for SMEs
With the fast paced growth and astonishing data accumulation, it is imperative for SMEs to go for an ERP solution that is scalable and accommodate the aggressive needs of their dynamic business.
Quick Tip: Involve employees throughout the process at all stages, to ensure their needs are met and they take ownership of the new system
SMEs with the investment involved can’t afford hiccups and setbacks during or after ERP implementation. Awareness and pro-activeness to avoid these pitfalls is the key to ERP success.
Some factors that can take your ERP Software south:
- Not prioritizing on the features that you would like your ERP to have, can shoot up budgets or get you a compromised software version. Identify features most suited to your business needs
- Check for the system scalability in order to avoid added platform costs in future. The ERP software should complement the staggering growth rate of your company
- The ERP solution if too rigid can stall deployment. It should be flexible enough for both on-premise and hosted alternatives
- ERP software that are too complex as a package might create user-friendliness issues and ultimately its failure
- ERP Software advantage comes to those who are aware about its benefits and can extract maximum out of it
- Lack of supportive infrastructure and repeated updates/customizations can mess up the ERP implementation
- There are different types of costs involved basis the ERP package you select: Cost for Technical expert, hardware/software license, customization, data conversion, training, future support and maintenance etc. that one need to check before going for a full-fledged ERP implementation
Top ERP Systems for SMEs
ERP market leaders like Oracle (JD Edwards), SAP, and Microsoft Dynamics serve majorly the large corporations, by providing end-to-end solutions to manage and integrate data for multi-functional use.
With their sleek features, trusted security services and consistent quality performance, their price is bit on the higher side and may not be of immediate relevance to SMEs.
There are many low to moderately priced ERP solutions for small and mid-size companies, offering both on-premise as well as cloud based software.
Some the best names include:
Has been in the ERP market for over 3 decades and has history of delivering reputed products with more than 20,000 customers worldwide. It is an on-premise comprehensive ERP package.
Lawson (Acquired by Infor)
The USP of this software is its flexibility and simplicity to be used across large number of verticals.
Focused more towards the first time ERP users, the software is designed to rule out migration problems with strong customer support service
One of the leading software for accounting and operations management, Sage 300 ERP has seen a decent growth rate with emphasis on UK market
The software has found many takers especially in the manufacturing domain. It offers easy to modify ERP package for functions like service & asset management, manufacturing, supply chain and project management
NetSuite, Syspro, Consona, and Exact Globe
These ERP software companies have created a niche in the SME market owing to their effective support for cloud and mobile technology. Being affordable with good online reviews also helps their case.
CakeHR deserves a special mention here as the robust software can perfectly complement your existing ERP system and at the same time eases out your worry of managing employee leaves (a feature rarely available as a stand-alone ERP offering).