Ideal ERP Software

How To Identify the Ideal ERP Software for Your Small Business

Entrepreneurs who focus on enhancing their B2B and/or B2C commerce operation and overall customer satisfaction will eventually realize success. For that reason, small and medium-sized business owners should consider, at no matter what stage of growth, investing in the resources that integrate all of their different business systems and facilitate the achievement of set operational objectives.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is one of those key business tools/resources to consider acquiring if you want to improve operational commerce efficiencies. ERP software improves the management of inventory and production schedules and streamlines data processing (i.e. processing orders, warehouse inventory).

Oracle’s NetSuite and Microsoft’s Dynamics lead the ERP software industry (SAP is in third place). Both can address most requirements, and both can adapt to their unique environment. Other less popular, specialty platforms exist, but those should be considered with even more care, as we usually see less support and customizability.

When choosing the ideal ERP solution for your operations, there are several factors to consider, and this article aims to set whoever is in charge of operations in the right direction to choose the right ERP for his or her business.

Flexibility

Most small business owners must focus on growth, which suggests that a scalable ERP solution is one business challenge to consider early on, as business ramps up month over month.

First and foremost, one must acknowledge some ERP software options are not customizable and compromising your business flows and processes after investing in such a tool is usually not an ideal option.

In this case, one should check the features and functions a particular ERP solution offers now and as the business grows, to verify whether the flexibility it provides is in line with the requirements of the given business, and business plan. Investing in scalable ERP software now will prepare the company for future expansion, and it will also eliminate the need to budget for the replacement of a rigid system when that time comes.

Ease of Update

Maximizing the potential of a specific ERP solution is impossible if one cannot access its latest version. Just like any other software, ERP software requires updating on various occasions for the platform to deliver accordingly. ERP updating procedures that demand the input of a professional are an added cost, which may also lead to the loss of time.

The right ERP solution for small to medium-size businesses should have provision for initiating necessary updates with a single click, which will save time and money. Failure to update an ERP solution when the time comes may cause an error in processes, and it can also create a system malfunction, implying meeting of set deadlines will become a challenge.

Compatibility and Integration

The ability to transmit data across multiple applications is a necessity for business operators focusing on reducing costs. The obstacle to avoid when choosing the right ERP is to rush to buy a particular ERP without considering its compatibility with existing software as this incompatibility increases dependence on clumsy rekeying procedures, which elevates the probability of making errors; errors which can potentially push your operating expenses through the roof.

The ERP solution one opts for should encourage seamlessness, which is only possible when one can integrate hos or her current software with their ERP system, or by replacing the platform one is using with a component, or compatible 3rd party component, in the ERP solution of his or her choice. Opting for ERP software that is compatible with existing network infrastructure creates a unified environment, meaning one can share data across all applications.

Smart Device Interface Capabilities

Any ERP system that is only accessible via desktop computers, and not mobile, will not give enough value for the money, and it will also force an organization to budget for a different option in the future. We are living in a dynamic world where the business environment is experiencing significant change with more real-time expectation than ever, and if an organization cannot adapt accordingly to the prevailing market conditions, the organization will be set up for failure.

The ability to monitor business operations using mobile devices is part of the requirements in every industry today because this promotes adaptability of establishments in diverse environments. The ideal ERP system should support accessibility on mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones, which will improve productivity in business operations.

Your In-House Team

Once an organization implements an ERP solution for use within the company, staff from various departments will interact with it on multiple occasions. Needless to say, the organization should train employees and identify the person/people who will handle any technical issues regarding the ERP software before the initial implementation. These people should be involved in decision making.

If anyone discovers some of the employees have an understanding of a specific ERP system, investing in such a resource may be a wise idea because it will reduce the learning curve (time) considerably, and the transition process will not be as much of a challenge for other staff members who now have in house assistance.

When workers learn from each other, they tend to achieve more because they have a better understanding of the operations of the organization, which is not the case with an external trainer. The implication, in this case, is your in-house team will/can now play a significant role in determining the ERP solution to acquire, facilitating a more successful transition within the business as well.

Cost

Proper financial management is a prerequisite for every successful business operator. If you are planning to acquire ERP software as a small entrepreneur, the cost should sit within the organizations budget, of course.

An ERP’s cost can be significant, as anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 could be the software acquisition cost alone, so without factoring additional time and expense for acquiring/planning/configuring an ideal ERP system, training your employees, implementing with precision, and maintenance time would be a mistake.

As one shops for the best ERP solution for his or her business, one should compare the cost by engaging different vendors while asking a lot of questions from initial setup costs, to costs per user, maintenance costs, and more. Remember, realizing a return on investment (ROI) after buying the ERP solution of choice is a factor one cannot afford to overlook; otherwise, the organization may end up adjusting for incorrect losses (or savings) for one reason or another.

A cheap or more expensive ERP software does not necessarily dictate the result one should expect after implementation. The right ERP solution will be within budget and will include all features that will take a business to the next level.

Conclusion

Making the right decision when acquiring ERP software can become the difference between your success or failure as an entrepreneur. Take the time to properly evaluate this decision from every angle before you jump in.

If you are looking to integrate the right ERP software into your eCommerce operation, ATAK can help. We can help any business operator pick and integrate the best platform for their needs, and we have a proven track record of integrating the necessary platforms from start to finish.

 

How ERP Improves Customer Service

In today’s world, customers have myriad options when it comes to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Asset-intensive companies in the distribution, high-tech, and manufacturing industries, now turn to ERP to improve their internal business processes.

These companies know that doing so will save costs through increased productivity and higher efficiency levels. These improvements work toward higher levels of customer service satisfaction. In the end, ERP is key to better business operations along with increased customer satisfaction.

As a company grows, the company will need more staff, a more significant number of services must be in place, and business activities increase. To manage these tasks systematically, ERP is necessary.

 

How ERP Enhances Customer Service

Companies know that modern technology is of utmost importance for streamlining business operations. Because businesses are now competing in a global market, providing seamless service is vital. Companies that do not do so will find their customers moving on to other suppliers.

Customer Service Improvement with Streamlined Backend Processes

Once you add an ERP system, your company can:

  • Improve productivity
  • Deliver customer’s goods more quickly
  • Implement inventory control
  • Offer reliable opportunity-, lead-, and quote-tracking
  • Foster quality customer communication
  • Improve shipping operations
  • Create improved supplier relationships
  • Automate current manual processes

Strengthened Supply and Demand

An ERP system assists companies with order fulfillment. The system connects fulfillment management teams to sales order management personnel. ERP users can:

  • Assign priority scores for existing customers
  • Create service-level rules
  • Allocate supply locations
  • Designate inventory to customer sales orders

The system will then define settings according to individuals or groups of customers. The system can also automate fulfillment, depending on the preferences assigned. Order fulfillment is a complex process. Goods must be delivered accurately, on time, with no damages, and complete documentation. ERP tools and features include:

  • Replenishment software
  • Freight software
  • Inventory forecasting software
  • Buying history analytics

User Experience Improvement

Modern ERP systems provide superior service because they gather:

  • Customer history
  • Customer prioritization
  • A holistic view of each customer
  • Discounts for long-term customers

This data allows for better shipping operations and reliable tracking and shipping information.

Access to Needed Information

When information needs distribution among internal teams, a modern ERP system can:

  • Utilize vendor scorecards
  • Receive real-time, easy-to-use information for non-IT users
  • Integrate between warehouse and front office

 

Accurate Order Shipping and Delivery

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) gives companies the automation and integration solutions they need.

Elevating the Point of Sale

  • ERPs can allow Point of Sale (POS) solutions that include:
  • Processing sales and service orders quickly and efficiently
  • Speeding up check-out
  • Access to inventory data needed to close transactions
  • An intuitive interface that allows for personalized customer service
  • Real-time updates for the entire organization
  • Integration among eCommerce, brick & mortar, kiosk, and mobile venues.

Distribution Management Software

  • Coordinate customer deliveries
  • Plan optimized service delivery
  • Schedule different delivery dates from different fulfillment locations to separate addresses.

Availability of Reliable Inventory Information

  • Create daily inventory workflows
  • Publish accurate inventory distribution documentation
  • Organize the merchandise areas and more.

 

Using ERP to Delight Your Customers

Along with the Enterprise Resource Planning topics we have already discussed, ERP also has various processes essential to running a business that we have not yet shared.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

NetSuite’s CRM software is a cloud solution that delivers in real-time. It offers businesses a 360-degree view of their customers. The entire customer lifecycle is part of a seamless flow of information through:

  • Opportunity
  • Sales order
  • Fulfillment
  • Renewal
  • Upsell
  • Cross-sell
  • Support

Along with this, NetSuite delivers:

  • Quotes
  • Order management
  • Commissions
  • Sales forecasting
  • Integrated e-commerce applications

Reporting and Automation Synchronization

By using NetSuite, employees can pull reports from one system. This capability means that:

  • Orders can be processed more quickly
  • Requests are more accurate
  • The business’s performance on key metrics is available to employees in a fast and understandable manner.

 

Signs that Your Company Needs an ERP System

According to Microsoft Dynamics 365, some companies are hesitant to get on the ERP bandwagon. They may be unsure as to how to choose the right ERP solution for their businesses. Some organizations are fearful that upgrading to an ERP may be too expensive, while others may be concerned with losing data and access to the tools they are now using.

The truth is, however, that ERP is likely to be able to use the best of a business’s processes and bring them together under one system. The cost of a new system does not have to be paid all at once. Instead of investing in significant software innovation, a business can purchase software modules separately.

In most cases, the ERP solution a business chooses will work with the existing business software. The new ERP software will have features that enhance what a business is currently using.

If one’s business software is limiting market expansion and the ability to grow on a global scale, the business probably needs a new system.

If the business’ system has components that don’t work well together, and the business is spending more money than necessary trying to solve the disparities, perhaps the business is ready for new technology.

If the business can’t meet customers’ expectations, new tools should be applied.

 

The Benefits of an Excellent ERP System

One’s relationship with his or her existing and potential customers must be strong. Doing what one says he or she will do for his or her customers is vital. If a customer wants to return an item, the process must be as streamlined as possible. When your business offers its best and most loyal customers special discounts this delights your customers. If the business gives its customers advantages that other businesses do not provide, the business will soon have even more customers.

As Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

Customers do not require perfection 100% of the time. They want to feel taken care of, with the opinion your business can and will fix any problems that occur. An outstanding ERP system can help businesses do just that.

We at ATAK Interactive can help you get started. Take advantage of our free 15-minute consultation today so you can begin your “marketing with a purpose” journey.

Inventory at a warehouse managed by ERP

What is ERP?

In the world of business tech trends, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is one of the most prominent developments in the last decade of enterprise software. ERP is designed to roll all previous enterprise software into one unified cloud-backed solution. ERP is what happens when SaaS and cloud servers and thousands of specialized industry programs are combined into any business owner’s dream of a singular management solution.

Of course, what you really want to know is how ERP works and what it can do for your business. So we’re about to break it down, exploring ERP at its core along with how it’s designed to streamline the internal processes of any business.

What is ERP?

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. It was originally conceived in the 1960s as technology to streamline and manage the manufacturing process. This grew into the MRP (Manufacturing Resource Planning) era of business software, which tracked the materials needed for each stage in the manufacturing and production processes. From there, MRP developed a few helpful back-office features like accounting, vendor contacts, and a little HR management. And this is what spurred the idea of a true all-in-one business software solution.

The term ERP was coined in the 1990s as software developers worked to wrap an increasing number of business management features into a single solution. This led to many industry-specific management programs that are available today. But the real revolution for making ERP solutions universal was cloud computing. The addition of the cloud with all its flexible computing and available-anywhere data was the missing link between purpose-built business management solutions and a true all-in-one approach to business software.

What Does ERP Do, Exactly?

Not all ERP solutions are the same, but in their effort to offer everything a business could need, they tend to cover the same general areas. Most ERPs are prepared to offer data unification and management features for:

  • Inventory Management
  • Order Fulfillment
  • Accounting
  • Manufacturing Process Planning
  • Resource Tracking
  • Vendor Relationships
  • Customer Services and CRM
  • Human Resources Management
  • Logistics and Transportation

The list above should give you a realistic idea of what an ERP solution is really prepared to do for you. ERP is designed to cover all your bases, and you can pick and choose your ERP solution and implementation to perfectly suit the processes and needs of your business.

Besides offering a wide variety of department-specific software for employees and managers, ERP at its core seeks to unify the data between all these different business processes. No more data silos, no more swivel-chair management. ERP ensures that your e-commerce inventory uses the same supply data as your warehouse inventory, which is fed by your vendor supply data and depleted by order fulfillment, which ties directly to shipping and logistics. And that’s just on the supply side.

For brands that handle their own product manufacturing, it is helpful to also understand that ERP’s roots are in manufacturing resources planning. Any ERP worth its salt will be able to help you track from vendor-supplied base resources to completed projects with completely unified and synchronized data. But it’s not just data management. ERP also includes all the processing, reporting, requests, and regulation compliance features that are included in industry-specific business software.

Workstation Software and Dashboard Management

One of the key features of ERP is that it offers management solutions from the ground level to the very top. On one end, employees work with the ERP’s functional interfaces to handle orders, interact with customers, file documents, and develop products. On the other end, managers and executives can use custom dashboards to provide real-time key data and send orders from that dashboard to improve the stats.

What ERP provides is a central data core from which to run ERP-powered business intelligence (BI) solutions. Lead-to-Cash, Order-to-Fulfillment, and Procure-to-Pay among many other standard business processes are now easy to monitor with the unified data and data analysis of a modern ERP.

ERP and The Cloud

Of course, what really makes this all possible and the reason ERP is blowing up right now is because of the advancements offered by The Cloud. Cloud computing, data storage, and virtual servers have made it possible for ERP to truly unify a business’ data and processes. Even if the sales and accounting departments are in different facilities.

Because ERP makes use of cloud data, it becomes possible to secure your data and make it universally available to every aspect of business management and sub-group of functional software. That unified data also channels directly into management dashboards and control panels, allowing the entire enterprise to be managed from one or dozens of different positions and custom controls, overseeing whatever data is most useful for each manager to know.

And finally, the cloud provides ERP an invaluable ability to integrate with the mobile workforce. Because all the company’s data is stored on the cloud employees can easily connect and be an equal part of the data-driven team.

The Oracle Netsuite ERP

If you do your research, you may notice that every ERP solution is a little different. They have a slightly different balance of features, dashboards, control options, and department integrations. Some are built for a specific type of business. Others are designed to offer a full set of a la carte features for businesses to choose from. One of the leading names in ERP technology is Netsuite ERP, developed by Oracle.

Netsuite is designed with a top-to-bottom ERP approach with a wide variety of internal features and strong roots in the Cloud where your data will be both universally available and secure. Whether you manufacture from the ground up or specialize in high-speed eCommerce fulfillment, a custom Netsuite integration can completely transform your business by streamlining every department into a single sleek monument of shared data and process completion.

Is ERP the next big improvement to your business? Don’t let the E for Enterprise fool you, with modern data and cloud technology, ERP software solutions are more accessible and affordable than ever to every business. For more information about what ERP is and how it can be implemented to streamline your business processes, contact ATAK today!