It’s a question that gets repeatedly bandied about in the business world: isn’t my business simply too small to benefit from an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or financial management solution?
In our experience at Sapphire Systems, we find this to be a common misconception. Of course size does matter to an extent; but if you’re a developing small to medium sized business (SME) it is never too early to implement an ERP system for your business.
The key is to select the right software that will manage all critical business functions and effectively cope with rapid growth. If you implement such a system early on, you are also less likely to encounter the problems many businesses face at a later stage. Over time people find they have gradually cobbled together a range of disparate systems and unintentionally adopted time-consuming manual processes in order to gather the business information required on a day to day basis. Clients often state that they wish they had implemented a more comprehensive system originally to avoid these common pitfalls.
Ultimately it is all about working smarter and more successfully by adopting an end-to-end system that manages not only finances but sales, customer relations, stock control and other operations. This kind of up-to-date, easily accessible information is essential for companies to reach their full potential and enable them to grow.
So what are the signs that it may be time to implement an ERP system?
1) Disparate software and processes
Think about the processes utilised by your employees – are different parts of the company working with different solutions that prevent operations running smoothly?
2) Getting basic information is a struggle
Not having access to the latest information can have a ripple effect throughout the entire business. If someone asked you for some basic performance metrics, how long would it take to gather this information? If you’re manually updating spreadsheets, it could literally be days and that will slow down your business.
3) Sales and the customer experience are being affected
At the end of the day, you have no business without customers, and inevitably your complex processes will have a negative impact on your customer service. You may find stock levels are inaccurate, or disparate sales, inventory and CRM systems are making it difficult to track orders.
4) Accounting processes shouldn’t be this complex
If you’re relying on manual entry of paper invoices, you need to consider how much time is being wasted on this process.
5) You’ve had enough of IT
Constant upgrades and management of different IT software can become a nightmare, especially if customisation is involved, and many businesses are incurring costs and running out of date software as a result.
So if you’re finding yourself in this situation, or you would like to avoid these problems altogether, the next question is where do you begin? Some software solutions are popular amongst companies who are just starting out, however you may face limitations later on in terms of enabling and managing your future growth. SAP Business One is another popular choice – with many businesses not even aware of SAP’s offering for the SME marketplace, and contrary to belief, it doesn’t have to break the budget!
No matter what solution you choose, here are some points to consider before committing to a project:
- Has the software and software author established a trustworthy, reliable reputation in the marketplace?
- Are there options to tailor the product to your specific needs if required?
- Is the system capable of evolving alongside your business – allowing you to buy what you need now and add more functionality later?
- Is it affordable? (remember to consider long-term costs, benefits and ROI)
- Does it integrate with other systems?
- Are IT requirements minimal?
- Will the system automate and accelerate your end-to-end business processes and improve decision making with real-time insights?
- Is there an effective support network available should you encounter any problems?
Sophisticated business management software is now affordable for smaller businesses, and is emerging as an essential tool to help organisations cut costs and improve business performance. In a world where successful economies are increasingly relying on the contribution of SMEs it is never too early to invest in innovative solutions that will stimulate business growth.