Enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) are designed to streamline data exchange, project execution, accounting, sales and supplies, and other processes within any organization. Some platforms provide tools for evaluating and improving business performance. A comprehensive analysis gives managers an actual picture of their business performance and helps guide productive planning.
With an ERP, you can create a single repository that will be continually replenished from various channels and can be easily accessed by everyone on your staff. The system can help avoid data duplication, inaccuracy and obsolescence.
There are many versions of enterprise resource planning software, and companies of every size and niche can find a system to meet their needs. To make a well-informed choice, familiarize yourself with the types of tasks solved by ERP platforms, review the most popular brands, and research individual compatibility criteria.
What is an Enterprise Resource Planning System?
ERP platforms are akin to Lego figures, assembled from modules. Companies can create custom systems by purchasing and bringing together software blocks that correspond to their daily tasks and technical capabilities. Each block performs a narrow set of functions and maintains a specific area of your enterprise. This structure brings order to your corporate machine and significantly empowers it.
Blocks for product development, supplies, sales, accounting, brand promotion, and human resource management are most commonly incorporated into ERP platforms. However, modern enterprise software solutions are diverse, universal, and can satisfy the needs of almost any business. You just have to enlist the support of a knowledgeable developer who will add customized blocks to your standard platform.
What Advantages Does Enterprise Resource Planning Software Provide?
An advanced ERP system can bring you the following benefits:
- Perfect order. Forget about chaos in the workplace. Your employees will not wander around in the dark and make costly mistakes due to lack of information or inaccurate data. Each worker will be guided by accurate and valid instructions prescribed by your ERP program. This will greatly lighten your managerial load, since you will not need to explain to each employee what they should do, when, and how.
- Automation of business processes. Artificial intelligence and machine learning tools can undertake some operations that are performed manually by your employees. Instead of slogging through routine and boring tasks, they will be able to direct their efforts toward creative projects and fully realize their professional potential. In the long run this well save you money.
- Accurate and detailed analytics. With just a few mouse clicks, advanced enterprise software will calculate a dozen performance metrics that reflect the success of your venture. Regular reports will give you an idea of how to improve your internal processes and achieve better results.
- Easy access. Mobile applications and cloud services allow employees to access the system from anywhere, giving them the flexibility to solve tasks quickly.
The Latest Trends in Enterprise Software Development
ERP platforms have been used by enterprises for some time, but older solutions are vastly different from those available on the market today. To keep up with the times and satisfy the needs of modern businesses, ERP vendors have significantly upgraded their products and enhanced them with cutting edge technologies.
To utilize up-to-date software, pay close attention to the trends described below.
No business is immune to emergency situations. Let’s say an urgent issue arises on a holiday and you need your team to quickly mobilize their forces and manage the crisis. There is no need to abandon all festivities and converge at an office when your corporate ERP platform can be accessed by your entire team via mobile phone.
Storing large data volumes on a hard drive and transferring them from one device to another is both inconvenient and unsafe, since office equipment can fail. Cloud is a great alternative. Several years ago, businesses were reluctant to entrust their sensitive data to external storage, but modern security measures have erased their doubts.
To always stay in the spotlight and expose your brand to as many potential customers as possible, you can integrate corporate ERP software with your social media accounts. This allows you to project internal processes to the external world and notify prospective clients about positive changes within your organization.
Let’s say you collect performance metrics in an analytical block and notice positive dynamics. You can notify your target audience about this by transferring a report from an analytical block to a social media block and sending a post to a newsfeed. Also, the number of likes, shares and comments under photos featuring your products can be used as raw data for your marketing block.
Large companies that control a great number of internal processes often try to create a universal ERP solution to cover all their activities. However, the capabilities of modern resource management platforms are limited. Overloading them may result in failures that are difficult to track and fix. Two-tier systems are believed to be the most flexible and reliable option.
Top ERP Systems
With an abundance of products on the market for enterprise software solutions, every company can assemble its ideal data management platform from available modules, or find a ready-made system that best suits its size, specialization, and goals. Let’s consider the most popular options to simplify your choices.
This comprehensive solution for small businesses allows data sharing in a cloud, simplifies planning, improves customer service and enhances every production stage.
For analyzing the success of your business, smart software will collect raw data, process it, and prepare ready-made reports that can be used for guidance in further planning. The performance metrics are provided in a convenient visual form, which makes project assessments and calculations less tedious.
This cloud-based system offers a set of cutting edge technologies for strategic planning and meticulous control over business processes. You can connect additional licensed tools to create a customized data center and streamline operations specific to your enterprise.
This vendor offers several platforms tailored to different tasks. For example, CostPoint can be used for solving financial and hiring issues, while Vision has advanced analytics that make it possible to draft accurate forecasts, schedule labor processes, and improve your company’s performance metrics from month to month.
This vendor provides tools for both stationery and cloud use. Some of them are universal, while others can be used in a narrow field, for example, financial planning or warehousing. Also, Sage develops platforms tailored to separate industries. Comprehensive ERP solutions can be used throughout a product’s entire lifecycle, from concept development to collecting customer feedback.
This solution best suits small and midsize companies that want to gain better control over supplies, distribution, HR, product development, shipping, and other facets of enterprise activities. Also, Paragon provides a clear picture of customer satisfaction.
Microsoft Dynamics AX
As in many other markets, Microsoft is a leader in the ERP market. The Dynamics AX platform mainly deals with the operational and financial aspects of business performance. You can use it to streamline logistics, establish pricing policy, and create a well-synced mix of advanced technologies and human capital.
This smart system is designed to automate manual operations within an organization. It brings sales, supplies, accounting, and other corporate processes to the next level, exempting employees from routine work and preventing human error.
Information on all transactions, projects status and available resources are all easily accessible, so you can get the big picture of your venture’s performance in minutes. Also, the platform has advanced protection, so you can be sure that your sensitive data is secure.
Your staff can access this data exchange system for small businesses via their office computers or mobile phones. It helps entrepreneurs track and manage production, sales, and financial operations, compile detailed reports, and schedule corporate activities. Since many processes are automated, even new employees find it easy to blend into a well-established workflow.
Thanks to a wide diversity of built-in modules and custom features, this platform can be tailored to any facet of your enterprise’s activities. It is flexible and integration does not require much effort. You can use either the Community version (open source) or supplement it with an Enterprise block.
Factors to Consider when Choosing ERP Software
It is not enough to read positive testimonials and hear that a particular ERP system is one of the market leaders. Even if a certain platform has benefited a large number of companies, it is not guaranteed to benefit yours. Your business may have different goals and initial resources than other companies, and a lesser-known brand may be the best buy in your particular case.
Apart from the vendor’s reputation, you should keep in mind the following compatibility criteria:
- Cost. Be realistic. The purchase and maintenance of enterprise software should not force you to skimp on other important business activities. Before buying a product, ask your vendor about all the initial and ongoing costs.
- Flexibility. New software versions are being released with an amazing frequency. When buying a data management system, make sure you will be able to update the current version rather than buying a new one in the future, You should be able to connect advanced addons and delete obsolete blocks to simplify the platform’s structure.
- Strategic goals of your business. You will need to use ERP software for quite a while before your initial investment pays off. If you need to buy another product six months after your purchase, the cost will outweigh the benefits. Find out if the vendor plans to release updates in the near future, and how they will affect the product you are buying now. Match the future version with your strategic goals and decide whether it will be more useful.
- Easy deployment. Organizations that lack ERP software experience may find it tricky to introduce advanced technologies into their well-established workflow. Choose a vendor that offers integration solutions and consulting services. Contact customer support for several reputable companies and choose the one whose staff is most polite, responsive, and provides comprehensive answers to your questions.
Today’s entrepreneurs have to manage enormous loads, keep up with large volumes of information, and monitor multiple complex operations. This is almost impossible without the support of smart automated assistants.
A well-chosen set of ERP modules can boost your company’s performance, give you better control over various departments and processes, and provide easy access to corporate data. Make the most of cutting edge ERP technologies, and enjoy the explosive growth of your business!