When a small business begins to expand, the issue of streamlining becomes of upmost importance. Tasks that that used to be compartmentalised with a few spread-sheets and a filing cabinet become more complex as businesses begin to employ more staff and increase the number of avenues with which they purchase stock, sell products and source clients. Cloud computing has become a popular method to make expanding businesses run smoother and ERP (enterprise resource planning) software is an effective way of implementing this. Choosing the best ERP software for your organization is extremely vital.
For those unfamiliar with ERP software, it essentially takes all existing systems in a business and makes them run as one. For example: your accounts, shop floor and management staff are all using different systems to go about their business, and while this may work fine for them, it causes substantial amounts of wasted time as documents, data and calculations are translated between each department. With an ERP set-up every part of the business can access a common database through one uniform system, resulting on less time spent on needless administration and more time spent on making your business productive.
The following considerations should be taken by any growing business investing in ERP:
ERP systems are not especially difficult to use but they do require training. If the price is right, check to see if your vendor offers training as an additional product. Alternatively, ask around your staff; one of them may already have the requisite knowledge of a given ERP to adequately train the rest of your workforce. If you have staff that have used ERP software in the past it may be worth finding out the specific make and model they used as this will save training time and expense further.
Ask yourself: Where does my company need streamlined? ERP systems can be used to streamline manufacturing, financial, human resources and supply chain departments but not all these features may be relevant to yourcompany. Take time to understand exactly what your ERP software will do before purchase.
Cost, in reference to ERP, must be broken down into two considerations: Short and long term. Short term is the easiest as it comes down to what your business can afford to spend on an ERP set-up right now. Long term considerations are a little more complicated and, as a potential customer, you have to ask the following about your ERP system: Will this software require an upgrade in the businesses technological infrastructure? There is no point in saving money by streamlining if you have to spend it all again on new computers. Will this software need constant upgrades, and how much will they cost? An ERP system will be used throughout your business, and therefor expensive to replace, the cost of upgrading has to be considered.
When you feel you have evaluated the above you should be prepared to take the step into ERP and a more streamlined, productive future for your business.