- The era of the fast-growing tech world changes the game for pretty much all businesses. In order to grow and have proper operations management, almost all businesses need to have some software in place.
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems help businesses stay on top of their everyday operations and management, helping to boost productivity and improve delivered results.
- But why should you use ERP software to run your business? Which one shall you choose? What happens if it fails? We've got you covered.
Editor's Update 09/07/20:
What software do most businesses use? Software is integral part of most business operations. Most SME businesses use business management software for the following areas:
1. Database software
2. Asset management software
3. Customer relationship management (CRM) software
4. Business invoicing programs
If you’re looking for efficiency and success in your small business, certain software tools and processes must be implemented. A savvy business owner will initiate an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to help facilitate and track day-to-day operations. But how do you know which one is right for your small business needs?
Purchasing an ERP system is one of the biggest investments a business owner makes. So, you want to find something suitable. Small businesses must thrive off collaboration, effective decision making and streamlined processes to succeed. The right business software can tick all of the right boxes to get you on track.
7 questions you should ask before choosing business software solutions
Before you jump ahead and choose your business software, you need to ask the right questions to ensure you pick the best software for your business.
1. What benefits will my business gain from an ERP system?
Prior to shopping around, ask yourself whether your business will reap the rewards of an ERP system. The 4 biggest reasons why entrepreneurs will invest in ERP is productivity, streamlined decision-making, transparency and reduced operating costs.
To manage increased volumes of work successfully, you need to be productive. The entire business needs to be productive. And all the processes and systems that go with it too. ERP is a crowd pleaser because it boosts efficiency. Time-saving advantages are vital for any company’s bottom line!
ERP systems are designed to offer real-time data, which is highly beneficial for marketing, accounting and management. It’s also an essential ingredient to encourage better communication for internal decisions and reduces the risk of running over deadlines.
Streamlined data flow and integrated systems mean all relevant data can be easily shared. This promotes better collaboration too.
Reduced operating costs
Perhaps the biggest reward - small business owners can reduce operating costs through an efficient ERP system.
2. What’s the difference between a cloud-based ERP and on-site?
Because there are no upfront hardware costs, cloud-based ERP systems offer a cost-effective solution. Other benefits include little maintenance (which is usually included in your monthly costs), system stability, user friendly and easy access from any location or device.
On the flip side, on-site ERP systems are priced around the one (often expensive) license fee but can come with greater data security. To choose which one is best for you, make sure you weigh up costs, how the system will be used for your business needs and how it’ll grow with them. You’ll also need to consider the speed and accessibility you’re looking for.
3. Is training and ongoing support offered?
Ongoing training and support is vital to a successful migration and ensuring the system works efficiently for everyone involved. There’s nothing more frustrating than lack of support. Thus, it’s extremely important to find out how your ERP provider will handle any issues.
Adequate training must be implemented during the early stages too. All users need to be educated to encourage acceptance and ease of the new system. This is key to making sure the benefits of your ERP system are fully leveraged as well. Your system will provide the supported need and train your in-house team throughout the transition and beyond.
4. How long does an ERP implementation take?
How long is a piece of string? A successful implementation can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 12 months. Because there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there’s no standard time frame for a software implementation. Time varies depending on:
- complexity of the system
- number of users
- data transfer
- project scope
- what you ‘expect’ from the new system
After you have sat down with your ERP provider and worked out the best system for your business needs, they will confirm the estimated timeline. To determine the best time to start the implementation, consider seasonal factors and availability of resources. Month-end or end of the financial year is generally the best times to start setting up the business software.
5. How does my business prepare for the changes?
Finding the right ERP provider is the first step of the process. Make sure you choose someone who is experienced in your industry and understands the project requirements specific to your business. They must be able to integrate the software with your other systems simultaneously too – automate, automate, automate!
As the business owner, it’s your responsibility to handle management. This includes setting clear expectations of the ERP, expecting the unexpected in the implementation stages and keeping the future state of the business in focus.
6. Can the ERP system be customised?
Yes! Regardless of whether you opt for cloud-based or on-site options, ERP systems can be customised or configured to suit your needs. Whilst you want to choose an ERP system that meets as many of your business requirements as possible, minimal customisations may be necessary. This includes adding new features to meet needs or extending the current setup. Customised software is key to suiting the exact necessities individual to your business.
7. What impact will the new software have on my business?
Typically, business software can go 1 of 4 ways and you should be prepared for all scenarios:
This is the best possible outcome. Your ERP investment has paid off, improving processes internally and with minimal or no limitations. You and your team are embracing the changes and the business’s future is exciting!
ERP system is implemented efficiently against time, budget and project criteria. The new system runs smoothly, but there are minimal or no major improvements in the business.
The project reaches a point of no return. Going back to the old system (or having nothing in place) may be too painful or expensive, so additional funding is usually forked out to finalise the implementation.
ERP systems can fail from lack of project management, poor ERP selection, unrealistic expectations or sacrificing business results for speed and cost of implementation.
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