You may have discussed potential ERP systems with suppliers, vendors and other business colleagues but are still wondering—who needs ERP? Do you? While there is no shortage of information about this powerful business management technology, it’s much harder to determine whether you should deploy ERP for your own business. Here’s what you need to know in order to make this important decision.
Are Existing Software Systems Helping or Hindering Business?
Thankfully, not many businesses are managed with pencil and paper anymore. There are any number of software systems available from accounting software to inventory systems to sales and customer services software. Businesses tend to generate a lot of data each day, all important for measuring performance and profits. While there may have been a time these specialty software systems were efficient and useful, they may be stifling business operations today. Answer these questions to determine whether existing software systems are helping or hindering business:
- Do I rely on multiple software systems? Multiple software systems are often expensive to license and maintain. They don’t integrate well, which adds time and money to maintenance and you may need a skilled IT department to manage data backups, system maintenance and licensing.
- Are these systems able to provide data in a timely, reliable manner? Department managers likely prepare routine reports which are then emailed amongst your leadership team. Information must be validated and compared against other data sets in order to understand performance or identify trends. This time-consuming process means information has aged before it can be used. Forecasting, planning and budgeting with outdated data is risky.
- Are employees wasting time or getting frustrated with existing technology? Inefficient technology is just as frustrating for your employees as it is your leadership team. As financial processes grow complex, for example, it takes longer to close month-end which further delays financial planning and forecasting. Productivity is impacted and many businesses end up hiring more people to pick up the slack. This only adds to the cost of using disparate systems.
- Have sales stagnated and is customer service suffering? Data is essential to understanding business performance and customer needs. If you don’t know what’s selling or what customers want, how can you increase sales or customer satisfaction? Without quick access to orders and customer information, sales teams can’t provide the level of service customers expect in today’s fast-paced marketplace. Lack of response gives customers a simple reason to turn to your competitors for better service.
- What other complications or frustrations are you encountering across your enterprise? Take a close look at operations across your company. Are there other friction points, inefficient processes, or inaccurate and lacking data? You can’t solve a problem until you can identify it.
How Do I Know Whether ERP Is the Answer?
ERP is a comprehensive, integrated solution capable of capturing data from across your enterprise. It essentially does what all of those disparate, specialty software systems can do independently. Here are five ways ERP could be the answer you are looking for:
- Single, comprehensive business solution: ERP is a single, comprehensive management solution which makes it easier to learn and use than disparate software. Licensing is easier to manage and more affordable than multiple software systems. In addition, cloud-based systems relieve the pressure on IT departments. Routine maintenance, back-up and other support falls on your provider.
- Quick access to data and insights: Business-critical data is now at the fingertips of your leadership team. Role-tailored dashboards, robust reporting and other business intelligence features highlight key performance indicators and other metrics. Leaders can identify trends, respond faster to deviations and ensure that strategic plans, and profit goals, remain on track.
- Time-saving automations: Workflows, automatic alerts and time-saving automations make it easier for employees to enter and access data. These features streamline data entry, improve consistency and protect data integrity. Avoiding the need for redundant data entry saves valuable time, which improves productivity across your enterprise.
- 360-degree view of business and customer needs: As noted above, real-time, reliable data can now be used to make strategic business decisions, forecast sales and operational needs, and strengthen relationships with customers. Your sales team can be more responsive, answer customer questions on the spot and even get ahead of needs, anticipating what the customer may want next. This is the level of service that customers expect, which leads to stronger sales.
- Agile, flexible with room to grow: Businesses change, but specialty software does not. ERP; however, is agile and flexible. ERP functionality can be changed just as your business operations may change. Having a platform that remains aligned with your business over time offers a competitive advantage.
Choose the Right Technology for Your Business
Every business is different and each requires the support of different business management technology. Choosing the right technology for your business isn’t a process to be rushed or underestimated. Multiple business systems are expensive, lead to poor productivity and put your profits at risk. Get the guidance you need from experts in the field. Contact The Wolcott Group for information about your technology options and whether today’s ERP is able to meet your specific business needs.