What Are the Options?

Updated: September 23, 2014


Through a well thought out enterprise resource planning system, you can ensure you business operations run smoothly and efficiently. ERP systems are designed to assist with manufacturing, service delivery, marketing, sales, inventory management, shipping, payments, product planning, costs and more. Many CIOs believe that they cannot live without them. Think of all the money you save on personnel costs by installing the right ERP system. This is the case even more so for SMBs. Why? Because many SMBs cannot afford to hire masses of personnel, but they still need to manage their operations. So, what are the options?



First and foremost, it goes without saying that an ERP system fits the demand for accurate company management to assist with company analysis. In order to maximize your company's profits, you need to have the ability to understand the relationship between choice, product availability and cost. This is especially true if you are in the retail business. You want to improve your profit margins and that starts with having a specific view of your overhead, consumption, costs and more. Not to mention, you need a system that takes care of online orders, cross-channel customer management, home delivery and more.

In addition, you get to access your company's data in real time. This way, you get to be more nimble and align your company's processes with your strategic objectives even more efficiently. This can trickle down to faster and more on-time deliveries, an improved reputation and expense reduction.

You can also streamline your data. Instead of looking through one set of files for one line of business operations, and then attempting to compare that to another, you can see all of them side by side. You no longer have to open multiple databases. An ERP system links all of your lines of business to a single database. This means a decrease in data redundancies, which thereby saves time. And, we all know, time is money.

Furthermore, it augments customer service. When you have faster access to more accurate data, you can address issues much more quickly. For example, when you see an item is low in stock, you can immediately restock to avoid potential customer frustration for a popular item that is out of stock. You can also react more adeptly to changing market conditions.

Moreover, you understand your clients better. This helps both you and the client. When you contact a client or a customer contacts you--all of their information from shopping habits, to transactions and messages can be available to you in an instant.



Given the many advantages of utilizing an ERP system, you are also plagued with a wide variety of options. So, where do you start? You want to ensure you don't exceed your budget on an ERP system that does not work for you. The first selection you should make is choosing from a set of systems tailored to SMBs.

For example, you have your choice of big company names such as Oracle, Microsoft and SAP. However, there are also boutique offerings that might suit your preferences better, as well. Think of what your company needs. Are you looking for data on financials, sales and CRM? If you have clients, you definitely want an ERP system that comes with a CRM functionality.

Also, what types of reporting methodologies do you prefer? Something straightforward, something extremely detailed or something customizable? How many users need access? Some systems only support a maximum of 50 users, while others go from 50-100 (this is for SMBs only).

If you are looking into your first ERP system, you might want to try a starter package. These can help you achieve your return on investment at a much quicker rate. To illustrate, they can be installed within three to 10 days, so you can get started right away. And, they can cover everything from CRM to administration, sales, inventory, purchasing and more. As your business grows, then you can always upgrade to a standard edition. So, you only use what you need and nothing more. You don't want to feel as if you spent too much initially, especially if you need to keep your budget lean.

Also, many ERP systems operate in the cloud now. So, you can have access to your data remotely. With this comes a wide variety of subscription offerings, as well. You might choose just to manage CRM, financials and inventory, then take it from there. With the cloud, you also have heightened security since the data is protected in the cloud before it reaches any devices. Many SMBs have shied away from ERP systems because they felt they were too expensive for their needs, but with today's technology, that is no longer the case.

To increase operational efficiency and competitive advantages, an ERP system is essential for today's SMB. And, you can get a system uniquely tailored to your needs.


Want to learn more? Check our white paper  ERP for Small Businesses.