– Some signs that indicate the need for an ERP system include a high volume of admin or data entry tasks, disconnected systems affecting customer service, difficulty in decision-making due to a lack of data, and a lot of time and money spent on IT infrastructure.
– Business processes with inefficiencies, redundancy and duplication, those that need real-time data, those with gaps that effect efficiency, those that need to scale, and those that require collaboration can all benefit from an ERP system.
– The key features to look for in an ERP system include customization, integration, scalability, security, and ease of use.
– ERP vendors must be evaluated based on their software’s ERP modules and features, as well as their reputation and the quality of their support.
– Finally, it is essential to ensure that the ERP implementation plan is designed in line with the business’s resources, meets business needs and maximizes ROI.
Many growing businesses don’t even realize when they’re in need of an ERP solution. A lot of their struggles are considered a normal part of growing, while in fact they are signs that the company needs an ERP system. Here is how you can tell whether your business needs an ERP solution, the advantages of ERP for your business, how to go about selecting a good ERP solution that meets your business needs, and how to make sure you get the most out of your ERP system.
Understanding When You’re In Need of ERP
Growing pains are not unusual in a business environment, but these challenges should be resolved as they arise. Long-lasting inefficiencies, on the other hand, are a sure sign that something fundamental needs to change. Here are some indicators that you need to consider investing in an ERP:
- Your staff is regularly occupied with admin or data entry tasks
- You find out about problems well after they have occurred
- Customer service suffers because your systems are disconnected
- You lack certainty when making decisions as you don’t have the data to support it
- You spend a lot of time and money on your IT infrastructure
Sounds familiar? Things don’t have to be this way.
If you think you might be in need of ERP, this article will give you clarity about ERP advantages for your various business processes, and how to get the best ROI on your ERP implementation.
Identifying Business Processes that can Benefit from ERP
Another, more systematic way to find out whether you are in need of an ERP system is to examine your current business processes. Review the way your business functions across all your departments – accounting, inventory management, human resources, procurement, customer relationship management, etc. – and look for the following:
- Inefficiencies, Errors and Disconnection. By its very nature, an ERP system is designed to improve effieciency, integrate all departments, and eliminate errors. Clearly, it is the solution to your problem.
- Redundancy and duplication. If you notice that multiple departments or individuals are performing the same task, an ERP system will help you centralize this process.
- A need for real-time data. Are there departments or individuals that could benefit from real-time data? Mobile ERP systems like Posibolt’s allow users to update information on-the-go, allowing for real-time updates across the team.
- Gaps in the system. A gap in your system may show up as an inefficiency in your process or inconsistency in your data. An ERP solution unifies data and processes to eliminate such gaps.
- Scalability. Are your current systems and processes scalable? Every healthy business will naturally grow, and in such cases, it’s not a question of whether you need an ERP system, but when you will need one.
- A need to collaborate. If your teams need to collaborate and communicate, an ERP system will help team members by providing a platform for accessing and sharing data.
Choosing the Right ERP System for Your Needs
So, you’re convinced about the advantages of ERP for your business. Now what? How do you make sure you get an ERP system that meets your business needs? Here are some characteristics of ERP systems for you to consider.
Key Features and Capabilities to Look For
First, consider your business processes, departmental needs, data management needs, and any other unique requirements in your business. Then, look at the following features/capabilities:
Customization: Can the ERP system be customized to meet the specific needs of your organization?
Don’t let anyone fool you into believing that ERP systems can only do generic tasks. Specialized vendors sell industry-specific solutions with customized ERP modules and functions to meet industry-specific needs. No matter what you want, there will be an ERP solution that caters to your needs, so don’t stop until you find it.
Integration: Can the ERP system integrate with the other systems and software used in your organization?
The ERP system may replace certain existing software, but it should be able to communicate with all other hardware and software that you will continue to use.
Scalability: Can the ERP system scale to accommodate your business growth plans?
There’s no point investing in a solution that you will have to replace in the near future. A scalable solution not only saves you money but also time in the long run.
Security: Does the ERP system protect sensitive data from unauthorized access and/or tampering?
An ERP system should have strong security features that protects financial data and restricts access to information based on role. Additionally, it should meet the security and compliance standards of your industry.
Ease of use: Is the ERP system easy to learn and use?
At the end of the day, it is your people that have to use the system on an ongoing basis, and you want to make sure that the transition from legacy systems to your ERP solution is smooth and easy, and that your employees find the solution beneficial and easy to use in the long run.
Researching and Evaluating ERP Vendors
Once you are clear what you want in your ERP solution, you are ready to evaluate vendors. The first step in your research is to find vendors that provide software with the ERP modules and features that meet your business needs. When talking to vendors, ask them in detail about the characteristics of their ERP software, and explain what you expect in your solution.
If you are convinced they have what you need, evaluate their worth as your long-term partner. What do other clients say about this vendor? Have they worked with businesses like yours before? What is their support system like? How and how quickly will they provide support if your team is need of it? Make sure you are satisfied on all these fronts before you make a final decision for purchase.
Implementing ERP to Meet Business Needs
Once you actually buy your ERP solution, it’s natural that you want to see the corresponding improvements in your business! You’re probably wondering how soon you can begin to see changes, and what impact it will have on your profits. Well, all of that depends on how well you implement the ERP solution. In order to get the full benefits of the ERP system, it is important to follow the following steps:
Create an Implementation Plan
Since the ERP implementation will impact the way your entire organization functions, it is important to have an implementation plan to set expectations, communicate with stakeholders and guide your efforts. An implementation plan is basically a simple version of a resource plan. It should include a detailed timeline that outlines all the tasks that need to be completed, a budget for each task, and the resources needed for the project. This plan should be reviewed and updated as you go to keep it relevant.
Manage Change and Resistance
It would be naive to expect your entire staff to be as optimistic about the ERP implementation as you are. They will have to change the way the work and learn and adapt to new systems and processes. Resistance to this change is natural, and how you manage this change and overcome resistance will make all the difference. It is important to get buy-in from your employees and create a sense of ownership by communicating the benefits of the new system to them and involving them in the implementation process. The project team should expect and prepare for issues that may arise during the implementation, and a support system should be set up to address employees’ concerns.
Train Employees on the New System
Many companies lose out on the full benefits of their ERP system simply because their employees do not use it the way they should. Many a time, the employees are not aware of all the features available to them, or they do not know how to use the system properly. Therefore, training employees on the new system is essential to the success of the implementation. This training should be tailored to the individual needs of the employee and should be guided by the role of the employee within the organization. Ongoing training and support should be provided as well.
Monitor and Measure Success
Once you’re done with the implementation, it is important to monitor how well your system is working. Ask the project team to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure the success of the implementation and are aligned with your business goals. These KPIs should be monitored on a regular basis, and adjustments should be made to the system based on the results.
Meeting the Evolving Needs of Your Business with ERP
An ERP implementation is not a one-and-done effort. With technological advances, ERP systems will keep getting better. With business growth and changes in your industry, your business needs will continue to evolve. Here’s how you can make sure you are always getting the most out of your ERP system irrespective of these changes.
Stay Up-to-Date with New Features and Functionality
As ERP systems are hosted on the cloud, rolling out new features and functionalities is simpler than ever, and ERP vendors are constantly doing so. The features you learnt about during your implementation may evolve greatly in a couple of years. Make sure to stay up-to-date with the latest features and functionality of your ERP system so that your business and your team can benefit from these advancements.
Regularly Review Business Processes and Systems Integration
As your business grows, you may change old processes, start new ones, or adopt new systems to keep up with the changes. In doing so, it is quite possible that you forget to integrate these changes with your ERP workflows. Review your business processes periodically with all your stakeholders to ensure that they are optimized for the ERP system. Also review the system configuration on an ongoing basis to ensure that it is aligned with your business requirements.
Adapt to Changing Industry and Market Trends
Industries and markets are constantly evolving, and adapting to these changes is essential to stay competitive. The good news is that your ERP system will help you do just that. In fact, many retailers opt for ERP systems just to set up an e-commerce store or offer their clients an omnichannel retail experience in accordance with the latest retail trends. Stay informed about the changes in your industry and communicate with your vendors to ensure you have all the features you need to adapt to these changes.
Before you disregard the challenges in your business as being the norm, take a moment to evaluate whether your business might benefit from an ERP solution. An ERP system may be all you need to improve efficiencies, eliminate errors, and connect departments. Evaluate your business needs, study the ERP modules and features available, and do research on the vendor to find the solution that will best meet your unique business needs. With a well-planned and executed implementation, you can bring significant improvements to your business processes and get substantial ROI.