What is ERP ???
ERP is a business process management software that assists an organization to use a system which is integrated with applications to manage the business and also automate different office functions related to human resources, technology and services.
Enterprise resource management (ERP) software is made to organize, collect and interpret data from different business activities including:
- Customer relations
- Supply chain
- Human Resources
The idea behind ERP is to assist larger organizations to become more active, efficient and make decisions based on data that result in better outcomes for the business. The data compiled in an ERP system is presented in a dashboard that can be useful for decision-makers to monitor and manage their business in real-time.
How can an ERP Solution Help You ??
Take your business activities as parts of your laptop…
The ability to look in the system while the machine is running can be invaluable when trying to decide whether to stop and do preventative maintenance, take it to a service centre for immediate repair, or keep using it for as long as possible because everything is working properly.
ERP software can help your business by:
1. Automating your marketing and sales :
An effective Enterprise resource planning solution will allow you to focus on your clients and helps you to better understand which marketing activities are working and fast-track people through your sales channel. When you use ERP to automate your marketing activities and basic tasks of promotions such as emails and social media, you can concentrate on returning sales leads, meaning your teams will be more organized.
2. Increase Productivity with scheduling software :
ERP software allows organizations and individuals to schedule and handle appointments, bookings, calendar systems, HR information and other related data. With the help of this type of software, the work becomes more effective as most parts of the business will be automated and will work in the background while you can get on with other tasks.
3. Integrate data :
One of the advantages of an ERP system is that it has a shared database which permits different divisions of your organization to access the same information. This means members of your Human resources and sales team can access the same data for a specific client for their reporting, while an inventory management team member can see sales data to determine how much stock is required for the next orders. It can also synchronise reporting and automation. This means different teams within your business at the same time can maintain separate databases and can shift to using one centralised program information. For example, sales and marketing figures can automatically flow into financial reports without any need to enter the same data.
4. Decrease Costs:
One of the benefits of ERP solutions is that it reduces the costs of your business without compromising with the functioning. The accuracy helps in reducing operational cost whereas the automation decreases administrative cost. One of the reasons behind it is because it allows employees to better manage operations and that prevents delays which allow users to make fast, and more informed decisions. Decreased costs bring higher profits, and once business owners understand the areas where they’re saving money, they can determine all other cost-saving opportunities in the business, too.
Choosing the right ERP solution for your business involves considering several cost-cutting factors, and there are many things business owners should consider when evaluating their options.
5. Customer Service:
Customer service is one of the important parts of any business. With an ERP solution, it is much easier to provide quality service to customers. By using the software, customer service representatives have quick and easy access to all the data related to the customer and are therefore able to provide assistance very quickly.
By using all this information, customer service representatives can prioritize customers and provide discounts based on the history of the customer. With streamlined shipping operations, the process of delivering the products to customers not only fasten up but at the same time possibility of errors also decreases. As a result, it increases customer satisfaction and leads to more business opportunities.
How You Can Choose Which ERP Fits Your Needs?
Selecting the right product and vendor depends totally on understanding the needs of your organization and appropriately evaluating the other systems at the same time.
Here are certain things to consider that can help you in making a better decision:
1. Objectives & Requirements
Why exactly do you need an ERP system? What problems are you trying to solve by using an ERP system?
Specifying all the objectives will help you identify the requirements ERP software must meet to be purchased. You might consider listing down all the requirements before you begin researching options in order to avoid being influenced by vendor marketing.
2. Measuring ROI
When you start researching ERP options for your business you will notice lots of warnings regarding how tough it is to measure ERP ROI. Fortunately, clearly specifying goals as you’ll have already done will help.
You might measure ERP performance by:
- Reduce headcount by X% in Y(months)
- Increases employee productivity by X% in Y(months)
- Reduce inventory by X% that results in Y accounting improvement
- Increase customer touches by X times that increase lifetime value by Y(amount)
- Improve the accuracy of manufacturing cost quotes by X% in Y(months)
3. The Demo
You are ready to see software demonstrations.
You may want to provide a script that outlines specific functions, workflows and features you expect to see during the demo. You might feel as if directing the demo according to your needs will save time as well as it will help you in determining whether the software will be able to help you in meeting your goals or not.
An alternative approach you can take is to simply provide the vendors with your goals and see how they respond to it.
When you realize that it will be tough to directly get cooperation or a call from a competitor, it will be helpful for you to speak with a reference that might have similar goals to yours & can answer your questions like:
- Which promises were kept by the vendor?
- What surprised you about the vendor/product?
- What does the product fail to do that you were told it would?
- Are you paying for all the modules/ tools you don’t even need?
- Which deadlines were met & which weren’t?
- Was there any other additional or surprise cost?
- What mistakes did you make or wish you knew about prior?
If your reference says nothing negative about the vendor, be sceptical.
Potentially even more important is asking a vendor for something they’re not likely to disclose; a list of companies that recently selected a competing ERP provider. It might not be a standard practice to ask for this type of information. However, a vendor’s response to your inquiry might be extremely telling.
5. Get the Total Cost
To select the right solution for your business, you have to understand exactly how much the project will cost you at every stage:
- Starting cost
- Maintenance cost
- Support cost
- Recurring costs
Having a thorough discussion about the price can prevent you from future surprises and disappointment. It can also help you shape a contract on which both the parties can agree.
6. Vendor Evaluation
It’s important then to try to understand a vendor’s strategic vision:
- Was the product created to be attractive to a potential acquirer?
- Who controls the company & are they looking to sell it?
- Do the founders have a history of selling software companies?
- If so, what’s the time horizon and who are they trying to sell to?
- Does the vendor have investors?
- If so, what type of track record do they have?
- Does the product target a specific niche or solve a unique problem for which larger vendors haven’t targeted or solved?
For ERP providers that do not appear to be acquisition targets, it’s important to see their balance sheets so you can assess their financial strength and whether they’re likely to be around for the long haul.
Questions to Ask During The ERP Vendor Evaluation:
- How long has the vendor company been in business?
- What experience do they have in my industry?
- Are they the developers of the product, or resellers?
- How does their pricing and billing model work?
- What deployment and hosting options do they provide?
- What kind of support do they offer?
- Do they provide training for new users?
- Were they easy to contact, and has their service and communication been good so far?
- What plans do they have for the future of the product?
- How often is the product updated?
- Is the solution scalable?
- How long do they estimate implementation will take?
- Can they give references?
- What sets them apart from other vendors?