Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) can be likened to a skilful operations coordinator – someone who manages all the different functions in an organization – planning and developing the products or services, supervising manufacturing processes, handling marketing and sales operations and managing the back office administrative functions. The difference between a real person doing this demanding job and ERP is that with the latter all of these various functions are automated via software – usually an integrated suite of applications – to achieve seamless and highly efficient business process management. If ERP sounds like it would work for your business, consider the features that would be most useful and how it could be of benefit.
Which industry sectors already use ERP?
ERP is eminently flexible and as it can be tailored to suit individual organizations, it has good functionality across most industry sectors. For example, both manufacturers and distributors can run ERP because it delivers:
- Distribution and wholesale benefits, ensuring the entire supply chain is more responsive.
- Financial benefits, supplying greater financial transparency and insight.
- Lean manufacturing, letting firms adopt streamlined processes across their value chain or enterprise.
- Manufacturing benefits, simplifying the complexity of a company’s manufacturing supply chain.
- Process manufacturing, making the most effective use of process manufacturing to safeguard profit.
- Service management benefits, better handling of the entire lifecycle of customer relations.
- Quality management, increasing reliability and productivity by improving quality across the board.
Service industries, for which there are customized ERP software solutions, include, but are not limited to, the professional and financial services and the public sector, and there are also bespoke solutions available for retail, hospitality and healthcare providers among many others. It is not necessary to be a major player to take advantage of ERP, however, as small business solutions are project-based, ERP can be of enormous benefit.
How ERP can help
If the problem is clear, the solution can be found via ERP. For example, businesses running a number of independent operations or systems are probably duplicating certain tasks, wasting time, energy and money and creating weaknesses in their organizational structure as a result. If this sounds like a familiar problem, consider that ERP can coordinate separate functions in such a way as to link and synchronize tasks, making best use of resources.
If accounting and financial reporting are dependent on paper-based invoices and sales orders, it’s likely that employees are spending a considerable amount of time manually inputting them into different systems. This can result in human error and is inefficient. ERP solutions can sort financial issues in an instant.
If key data is hard to access, customers are becoming disillusioned and managing several different IT systems has become something of a nightmare, then it is definitely time to start thinking about implementing ERP. Also, as a business grows there are more demands made on existing structures and operations so it becomes crucial to be prepared. Being prepared will help transitioning be relatively pain-free as business grows, more customers use the service and profits start to increase.