The idea of deploying an enterprise resource planning solution might be daunting for small businesses, especially given cost considerations. For one, the more popular ERP vendors such as SAP, Oracle and Microsoft, among many others, are often perceived to have a focus on enterprise clients. And even if the SME were to get enough funding to subscribe to an ERP license, it can be expensive to customize these solutions according to their needs.
In some cases, even enterprise clients will be stuck with legacy systems that are rarely updated. Given these barriers and preconceptions, ERP utilization may not always be adequate.
Why deploy an ERP?
ERPs are useful in terms of making sure that production, inventory management and order processing go smoothly, and that the business is able to adequately monitor resources, such as raw materials, payroll, production capacity and cash, among others. Deploying an ERP is often the best way to consolidate different systems that handle accounting, finance, sales, purchasing, a number of databases, e-commerce integrations, and other areas of operations.
Not all ERP deployments are necessarily expensive. SMEs can choose just the right-sized ERP implementation that will fit the business. For companies that already have existing deployments, the key is keeping up-to-date, ensuring efficiency and also preventing productivity losses due to buggy code, old/unsupported/legacy implementations and the like.
The advantage of SaaS
One common model for deploying an ERP solution is through the software-as-a-service approach. SaaS brings with it the many benefits of the cloud. For one, companies can stop worrying about high capital expenditures, particularly in building and maintaining IT infrastructures. SaaS offerings come with lower initial costs, pay-as-you-go subscriptions and seamless integration. SaaS is particularly popular with small and medium sized businesses because it simplifies deployment, lowers the acquisition cost, and comes with IT support that probably nobody on your own IT team could provide, thus addressing some of the basic concerns that SMEs have had with traditional ERP solutions.
Depending on your needs, as well as the features you might want included, you can now choose an ERP provider without the hassles of deploying traditional ERP software on-premises. Some vendors that offer these services include Exact Globe ERP, Syspro ERP, NetSuite ERP, Salesforce.com, Oracle and SAP.
Scaling the business
In essence, maintaining an ERP is beneficial in improving visibility across the enterprise. Because the platform brings together information on the supply chain, inventory, marketing, sales, technical and other data sources, decision-makers can make appropriate choices that will drive business growth. For a growing company, this may include redirecting focus towards certain aspects of the business that are performing better than others. This can also include making adjustments in the supply chain or warehousing in order to improve the flow of goods.
Benefits will include consolidated financial reporting across business units, comprehensive management of costs and expenses, and even improved insights into customer and employee needs. While this might not be at top-of-mind for a fledgling startup, such information will become crucial when a company is already at growth or traction stage.
One potential hurdle is keeping ERP deployments up to date, ensuring the solutions are secure and efficient. This would also prevent losses in productivity arising from unsupported and legacy implementations, buggy code and other similar issues. As we have mentioned earlier, most SMEs do not have enough IT talent to do ERP testing and upgrades. Those that do are likely to be burdened with other core business activities, that spending time on tedious tasks will not make sense.
To address this need, SMEs and enterprises can utilize ERP tools from Panaya that automate and facilitate the testing, debugging and data cleansing process, which will ensure that every possible transaction and data path is tested, to find potential bugs and vulnerabilities. Cleansing your code will involve doing away with redundant algorithms and unused logic, which will help trim down your code, thus making the ERP deployment more efficient. Such automation tools should also give recommendations on remedying or correcting your code, by creating fixes that you can review and download.
Deploying a capable ERP can help you improve IT utilization, while automating ERP maintenance and upgrade related tasks will take away the redundancy and reduce time wastage. With automation, you can easily add more modules and business applications to your existing ERP solution, while allowing you to improve the system’s efficiency by removing redundancies and unwanted code.