What is ERP? It’s all about Streamline, Automate, and Accelerate for Business Fitness
A Google search for ERP will invariably throw in millions of results and the sheer amount that comes up can be daunting, and maybe a bit confusing too. Every web search will have its own definitions and its own variant of processes, modules and implementation. These differences emphasise the flexibility that can make ERP a hugely powerful business automation.
ERP is an acronym for Enterprise Resource Planning and going beyond the acronym it defines as data driven system that integrates enterprise wide data such as planning, supply chain, inventory, sales, marketing, finance and human resources to enable informed business decisions. ERP software suites assemble and organize data from various levels of an enterprise and empowers business decision makers with real-time insights into key performance indicators (KPIs). An important goal of ERP is real time flow of information so all business decisions are data driven. To give you a sense of how ERP System can transform your business and how an ERP actually works. We will explore through this article why every businesses thinks that implementing ERP is a must.
Companies are more likely to deploy a full service suite of ERP technology. ERP modules are available to automate processes that broadly are:
- Financial management: Gives control over your assets, cash flow, and accounting.
- Supply chain and operations management: Streamline your purchasing, manufacturing, inventory, and sales order processing.
- Customer relationship management: Improve customer service, and increase cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
- Project management: Get what you need to deliver work on time and on budget with better billing and project monitoring.
- Human resources management: Get help attracting and retaining good employees with tools to help hire, manage, and pay your team.
- Business intelligence: Make smart decisions with easy-to-use reporting, analysis, and business intelligence tools. Minimise manufacturing cost and increase of resource utilisation
- Manufacturing: cuts on production bottlenecks, makes on-time delivery and enhances visibility in operation control.
- Distribution: improves distribution channel performances with quick decisions on purchasing, real-time visibility of supply chain and products, and ability to monitor market and different geographies.
ERP advances Business Value
ERP Solutions fundamentally support employees to perform more efficiently by centralizing information and removing barriers between business units and departments. By giving real time view ERP expedites business decision and businesses can proactively address issues and even drive improvements. So what Benefits do businesses get from ERP?
- Efficiency: Removes repetitive processes and reduces manual entry of information. Business processes are therefore streamlined and efficient as they work on information from common source.
- Integrated Information: Data is consistent and updated in a centralized location unlike when distributed data is in a number of separate databases.
- Reporting: Reporting is easier and customizable with improved reporting capabilities allowing you to respond to complex problems. Users can also run their own reports.
- Customer Service: Enhances high-quality customer service as improves customer interaction by faster, more accurate access to customers’ information and history.
- It improves the accuracy, consistency and security of data. Restrictions to data can also be enhanced.
- Decision making: It is in consonance with business strategy and goals because you get company-wide view with integrated and shared data.
- Profitability: Streaming of routine process give management and staff more time to focus business growth and strategy.
To Customize or go with Standard Version
Customization can be time-consuming and even costly, a custom integration might just be the solution if your back-end systems require special handling. If you have many APIs in multiple systems that interconnect to ensure that data flows seamlessly to and from your company’s many data sources. If your business more unique than other, then customization is a good option for you. If not, a standardized approach should work best for you without further expenditure. Even though ERP Companies offer standardized processes, ERP solutions offer a flexibility to support which means that any on premise implementation of software product in a business is adjusted to the specific requirements of the customer. Often existing software systems are altered or connected to the new ERP system. However, some CIOs are of the opinion that customization may make future upgrades troublesome as new feature upgrades might conflict with the patches. If your enterprise has to customize your mission-critical to ERP systems then industry specific verticals with specific industry in mind helps in confirming to your business. Vertical add-on applications can later be upgraded more easily without the problems and complications that come when you try to upgrade customized code.
Analytics Increases Insight
Business intelligence and analytics features are becoming more of a standard function in ERP systems, which provides flexible reports pulled in real time. This gives the management deep insights and improves efficiency and accuracy of decision making. Technology advancement has enabled actual intelligent data that can be used to drive business decisions and strategy. This has shifted the expectation away from only viewing your organisation from within to being able to dive deep into your customer characteristics and market behaviours to proactive chances to make necessary changes in strategy.
Once to decide to have an ERP System for your business and you are ready to review ERP Systems in the market, your top criteria should be what fits your business best. Since there are many ERP Solutions available, a strong RFP that captures all your requirements will help you to stay on course to find the best system.
Cloud or On-premise Platform
On premise systems requires initial investment of in-house equipment but, with the emergence of cloud ERP solutions, an affordable ‘pay-per-transaction’ pricing model is now available to smaller businesses and start-ups. For some companies it may be necessary to have the solution be in-house and installed on an internal server, while others may prefer a web-based solution that is more mobile and can be accessed through tablet and mobile devices. This is however, a business decision.
Historically the term ERP was coined in 1990 by Gartner, but it dates to 1960s. The concept was more about inventory management and control in the manufacturing. These programs were created to monitor inventory, reconcile balances, and report status. In 1970s, this was called Material Requirements Planning (MRP) systems for scheduling production processes. In the 1980s, MRP included more manufacturing processes, and was called MRP-II or Manufacturing Resource Planning. By 1990, these systems had expanded beyond inventory control and other operational processes like accounting and human resources. Today, ERP means a lot more it expands to include business intelligence, sales force automation and even ecommerce.
To ERP or not to ERP?
In today’s business environment this isn’t even a question. Yet many business leaders ask themselves. Acquiring an ERP system is the top investments a business can make. Many small businesses feel they are too small for ERP though, a small business must be faster and sharper than the competition for growth. In today’s business landscape, no business is too small for an ERP. ERP enables small business think, plan and operate like an enterprise in any size.
Improving business efficiencies is a recurrent concern for any company that strives for excellence to realise world class operations. Businesses that are streamlines stand to reduce operating costs and improve the effectiveness and profitability of their operations. They also gain time to devote to strategic planning. And, finally don’t believe anyone who say that ERP are costly and take years to complete. It’s just that old and generalised perception don’t die easily.