Tough holding it all together? Might be time for ERP

Despite the size and scope, vast differences in products offered, line of business or the number of employees, the same principle applies to all companies. If your business is growing, ERP will effectively support how you manage and control your day-to-day tasks. Simply put, an ERP solution contributes to growth and enables a company to react more quickly to changes in market demand and as a result, become more successful.

But as your company grows, sales are on the rise, new employees come on board, and you’re slowly losing a sense of where you put those unpaid invoices, your software systems are no longer doing their job.

So, when is an ERP system essential for your growing business? Here are five definitive signs to look for. But if you can relate to more than two, they may be trying to tell you that it’s time to invest in ERP.

1. It’s Greek to Me

The first telltale sign that your business is in need of assistance, is when your current applications are no longer able to communicate with one another. This has nothing to do with the English language, nor the programming language. It’s only because they’re not speaking the same language. For a business to operate efficiently as a unified entity, under that same proverbial ‘umbrella,’ company data must be accessible, sharable, storable, and secure for everyone in the organization. When you’re using different systems to manage different departments, say, finance, sales and marketing, human resources, and inventory, you’re creating massive data silos.

In lay terms, a data silo is a repository of fixed data that remains under the control of one department and is isolated from the rest of the organization. And it’s something your business does not want – and wants to avoid. By implementing an ERP system, and by centralizing company data, you will eventually reduce these data silos. When data is converted into a single source from multiple streams, inter-departmental and even inter-company, where a company has multiple locations, communication becomes quick and easy. When your business systems speak the same language, real-time data access leads to informed, real-time response – and that leads to better and faster decision-making. And that means, your company’s language is no longer “Greek to you” (or anyone else).

2. Forecast: Cloudy, with a chance of disgruntled finance managers

The finance function in growing organizations is changing – from what was once a basic operational mode (“keeping the books”), to a vital and import part of business support. Your company’s accountant or finance manager is on the ball and ready to grow as your business grows, but can no longer deliver fast and accurate financial reporting using legacy software, stand-alone accounting systems, or the notorious spreadsheet. Does your finance manager have complete visibility of all financial transactions across your organization? Can they gather and process financial data, and then generate reports with accurate data, in real-time?

Are they able to clearly communicate financial information to external partners, such as vendors and your customers, on demand? If the answer is ‘no’ to any or all of these questions, your operational efficiency will drop dramatically – and there’s a price. Your finance manager and their team are first in line for onboarding an ERP solution in your organization, because more than likely, they’ll be substantial, if not your ‘heaviest’ ERP users. An ERP system with a financial module (standard and built-in), will give you a comprehensive set of tools to manage all the financial aspects of your business, while maintaining a high level of regulatory compliance. With a fully integrated ERP system, all of your business processes become visible and transparent.

As a result, your finance team will automatically get regular financial updates from company-wide departments, reducing those time-consuming (and ancient) manual data entry tasks. Ledgers will be updated automatically for easier cross-organizational reporting, and finance managers will be able to manage multiple revenue recognition methods, billing and fixed assets, profit tracking, accounts payable, accounts receivable, risk management, and more. And an ERP finance module can process and report multi-company and multi-currency financial data, easily customizable to comply with tax regulations in your jurisdiction.

We should add to this list: No more stacks of paper! With an ERP system on board, your finance team will quickly transform all that paperwork into accurate, up-to-date online reports.

3. Nope, just not ‘smart’ enough

Just how smart is your business? Not you, your organization. Smart and successful businesses rely on Business Intelligence (BI) tools to collect, integrate, analyze and present business information, to support better, more informed decision-making – actionable insights, based on accurate, real-time data. A company that’s looking to grow, cannot expand its size, nor its scope, without implementing a business intelligence tool. With a sound BI strategy in place, companies can reduce the amount of useless information and data on hand. “But where does all this data go and what do I do with it when I get there?” This where an ERP system, with a robust and reliable BI tool, can help.

An ERP system, with an integrated BI tool, enables organizations to create real value from their data, by allowing users to share and analyze the data, company-wide, all from a unified repository. The ERP system collects the data, while the BI tool analyzes it, using dashboards and other interfaces to clearly present the data in easy-to-understand graphs and tables. With an ERP system, users can drill down with a single click, from aggregated data presented in their dashboards and dynamic BI reports, directly to the underlying data elements. BI tools also give users the freedom to tailor reports and dashboards, add and personalize shortcuts and business metrics, and compare and contrast data of all types, from financials to sales and marketing, customer support, and more. Built-in BI functionality inside your ERP, is the ‘pulse’ of your organization, and how you can view and manage your business operations, intelligently. Now, that’s pretty smart.

4. Carrying a heavy load

If you’re managing multiple software systems inside your organization, do you mind if we ask a personal question? “What’s it costing you?” What are the actual costs of maintaining an in-house IT team to support all of your systems? What’s your real spend on annual software licenses and support contracts, and what about your hardware upgrades? Supporting numerous systems can translate into enormous IT costs, lower profitability, not to mention the headache of having to manage multiple systems and multiple vendors. Here is where we repeat ourselves. ERPs are fully comprehensive systems and as a result, they eliminate the need for separate software in each department. With a single system, every department, every employee, will be able to access to a central database, lowering the costs associated with setting up and supporting multiple systems.

Make no mistake, by implementing an ERP system, you will reduce your IT, operational, and administrative costs across the board. An ERP system automates and standardizes your operational processes, lowering the risk of human errors by automating key business processes.

Fewer mistakes means greater efficiency and profitability. Further, because an ERP system collects all financial and operational data from various departments, you benefit from a unified reporting system for every business process. With a consistent, consolidated, and transparent view of your organization, you can streamline operations between departments and functions, enabling continuous company-wide improvements. What’s more, ERP allows you to view, analyze and assess your KPIs, forecast, and plan accordingly, and yet again, save valuable time, costs, and resources.

5. Because the whole world’s gone mobile

Hard to imagine a world without mobility. We can’t. Mobile devices run our homes, our livelihood, keep us in touch, informed and up-to-date while we’re on the go (no matter where we’re going). But what about your business? If your business, no matter its size and scope, is hoping to grow and increase profitability, mobile business management tools are not only a recommendation, they’re a must-have, and must-have, now.

There’s a big appetite for mobility within businesses, but for many, crucial day-to-day tasks are still being carried out on a desktop or laptop, with some employees never having the chance to work away from their desk. Some businesses even shy away from mobile applications and don’t encourage employees to work remotely, claiming they are not as productive off-site as in the office. Today, sales reps, field technicians, and a host of other mobile employees benefit greatly from accessing real-time data when working outside the office. Enter mobile ERP.

It can provide far-reaching functionality, skillfully designed to serve you’re your employees, your customers, and your business, anywhere, any time. At the heart of mobile ERP is its ability to enable users to easily create, access and share business information via their mobile devices. This means real-time data access when and where you need it.

End Game

ERP software solutions have been a rock-solid foundation of businesses for decades. But despite ERP’s unrivaled survival skills, there’s still the misconception that ERP is only for large enterprises. There are countless, market and industry-proven reasons why small companies who are primed and ready to grow, should implement an ERP if they want to successfully manage their business, and only five of these reasons are detailed in this report. There are many more.

Choosing the right ERP for your business is no easy feat, but it should not discourage you from embarking on your ERP journey. There are many options out there, with lots of vendors to choose from.

Today, ERP is prevalent in organizations of all sizes, but as a small business owner, careful consideration should be made in finding an open, flexible and scalable ERP solution, one that has the ability to grow as your business grows. An advanced ERP system will do just that, and more.

So, when is an ERP system essential for your growing business? The answer is obvious. Now.

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The Author
Yossi Nissan

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