I have been submerged in the ERP world for over 12 years. That’s well over a decade and then some. Like so many of us, I started my promising career as an ERP customer, dealing with the trials and tribulations of ERP onboarding, implementation, pain points and working tireless to… get it right. Sounds familiar?
If you’re an ERP user or work in an organization that uses an ERP system, then you can relate. Life on the customer side, despite its many challenges, was a great learning experience. So great, that I quickly joined forces with the “opposing team.” I became an ERP software vendor. And here’s what I learned.
“But we don’t need to change”
Over the years, the most common scenario is the way in which small organizations (5-30 users) underestimate their information system needs. The repeated conversations I had with company CEOs, CFOs and business owners were always the same, “Why change? We’re happy with our accounting software.”
This is what they would say and in fact, what they actually believed. But every so often, they’d call me back with, “We just need a little feature that our software doesn’t have. You know, just something small…” And after some 50 or more similar requests from a long line of prospects, I wanted to tell them all, “Yes, you are big enough!”
ERP? Bring it on!
When I demo a slightly more advanced system, yes an ERP system, to a prospective customer, there are some ground rules. I need to demo a system that is a perfect fit for small organizations with say, 5 users, a system that users can implement quickly and efficiently within days or even weeks (depending on customer size, of course).
And when I “show them” that this can be done, they are shocked – and here’s why. From the get-go, they realize that they can actually move to a much more advanced system that will not only enable them scale up in the next 10 years, but also that transitioning to a new system will not be as painful as they perceived, not in budget and not in effort and resources.
The SMB challenge
Here are just a few of the key challenges faced by small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) and how an ERP system can help:
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management) – Today, the vast majority of SMBs handle customer relations via email and phone calls, while sales and customer service reps do not maintain records of this critical relationship data. An advanced ERP system with an integrated (built-in) CRM module, manages and controls your customer data, including email correspondence, call summaries, price quotes and more – all in one location, all accessible at any time.
- Workflow & Business Rules – I often tell customers, “You really don’t need to tell your sales reps ‘face-to-face’ not to sale under 20% profit. Let your system do it for you!” With built-in workflow and business rules, you define your sales processes with easy to use tools for any sales scenario. But it doesn’t end there. You can easily define business rules to send alerts via email/text for a wide range of operational and sales events, giving you the power to manage and control your workflow and business processes – in real-time.
- Mobile Apps – You drive to work with a GPS, check the weather forecast and even order lunch at the local café – all using standard mobile apps. Then why not build an ERP system app to record and view your company data right from your mobile device? ERP is no longer just desktop computing. Today, with a mobile application generator, you can build a mobile app without the need the need for programming skills, IT support or any additional costs.
The bottom line
From my experience, once I’ve shown a prospective customer the flexibility of today’s ERP systems, its real user-friendliness with powerful, easy to use tools, I have a foot in the door. What’s more, showing them just how ERP will allow their organization to migrate from its (often) outdated accounting system to an advanced and innovative system, gets their decision-makers to better understand the long term value of making the move.
Still think you should call your customer to tell them you shipped their purchase without recording all the details of the sale? Think you need more responsible employees who won’t forget to enter critical data into your software system? Think again. It’s out there and it’s available. Easy migration, minimal effort and a relatively unintimidating budget.
Yes, you ARE big enough. Move forward.