Let’s assume for a moment that you have not implemented any enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in your company. Do you know what it can do for you?
For the unoriented, ERP is a business solution consisting of various software programmes that integrate all aspects of a business operation in one database and system. This solution (also known as an ERP suite) automates back-office processes to make your entire business operation seamless and efficient.
How does it do that? An ERP system creates a central repository of all the data in an organisation to facilitate the flow of information throughout the enterprise. It also allows the different software programmes to talk to each other so that various parts of the organisation can share information and results.
Large businesses get the most advantage from ERP systems because they have a lot of processes and data to manage, making manual operations difficult. Companies of any size, however, can use an ERP suite to improve productivity and information access. Individual teams may customise and analyse their data for the specific needs of sub-teams and for upgrading their current strategies.
Growing with the Times
If you started using ERP in your company many years ago, chances are your system may not be the same ERP that businesses are implementing today. Remember that the ERP methodology of old comprised multiple software modules that were purchased separately, depending on your requirements, capabilities and goals. Each module addressed the need of one aspect of the business, such as sales & marketing, human resources and payroll, employee life cycle, procurement, supply chain management, manufacturing, accounting and bookkeeping or product development.
Over the years, IT vendors began to merge modules and offer them as single systems. They also developed modules for specific industries, such as retail and manufacturing. The advent of the Internet suddenly created countless activities for users, making it more urgent to have an ERP system that’s open, easy to use, and updated.
Many businesses today implement ERP to replace their legacy proprietary software that no longer works for their growing organisation. In one of the ERP studies of Panorama Consulting Solutions, LLC, about 80 per cent of respondents said they implemented a new ERP system to upgrade a home-grown app, to replace an outdated system, or because they have no ERP in the first place.
Perhaps it’s time for you to upgrade yours. Find out what’s new.
Latest Trends in ERP
The past few years have seen new computing trends in the ERP arena that are changing the way businesses implement the system. These trends were due to shifting user behaviours, especially in the way they interact online. Below are the four most prominent trends:
The initial hesitation of ERP users over putting personal or confidential data on the cloud is starting to dissolve. With better cloud security, more organisations are seeing the benefits of deploying ERP through the cloud, particularly for global or multi-location enterprises.
The shift in workplace landscape puts more employees and executives on the field and on the go. They demand real-time access to data through their mobile devices, no matter where they are. Mobile-friendly apps help in this matter. Industry experts expect more companies to adopt mobile ERP, especially those who need to generate reports and access dashboards and key processes while on the road.
Social media is the new hangout of the current century. If you are a serious business, customers might expect you to be on social media as well – even during work hours. But whether or not there is profitable truth to this assumption, vendors wasted no time in creating social media modules for their ERP systems.
Some vendors once tried to create a system that would address all the ERP needs of every department across an organisation, with expensively negative results. This ambitious plan has since been reduced to two tiers: one for corporate and another for subsidiaries and divisions. For some vendors, such as SAP, two-tier ERP refers to their hybrid ERP product that gives users the option to implement the system on-site or on the cloud.
ERP suites are also now far from “basic”. On top of integrating core processes like HR, finance, logistics, supply chain, manufacturing and procurement, ERP systems today offer digital assistants for prioritising, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) for automation, and predictive analytics for decision making.
Benefits of a Cohesive ERP System
With a unified ERP system, you get the following benefits:
- By streamlining core business processes, ERP helps departments do more with fewer resources, enhancing productivity.
- By creating a central storage of data, ERP helps company decision makers access correct and updated information faster to form solutions for mission-critical problems.
- By allowing multiple facets of the business to interact seamlessly with each other, ERP helps create and share financial and business reports easily and makes performance feedback immediate.
- By increasing visibility and control of the business, ERP ensures compliance with standards and regulations, anticipates risks and prevents them.
- ERP lessens the workload for everyone in the organisation by improving employee and stakeholder interface and information sharing.
- ERP allows employees and managers to quickly recognise opportunities and act on them through the real-time data available to them.
As the ERP approach of managing a business became popular, more unified ERP suites emerged, allowing managers to extend ERP implementation to other business activities and front-end processes. These may include advanced modules such as customer relationship management (CRM), business intelligence and data warehousing. While they are widely used in many businesses today, CRM systems are not the same as ERP systems. CRM is only one aspect of ERP, but CRM capabilities complement ERP capabilities in many ways.
CRM is the most prominent subsystem of ERP that can do wonders for your company brand. According to LinkedIn research, about 64 per cent of midsized companies in 2016 used CRM, and 44 per cent of employees in these companies also maximised their CRM tools.
Salesforce: A Leading CRM App
Let us look at one of the leading CRM systems in the world to see how it can support your ERP initiative. Salesforce, a popular CRM platform, has been recognised for its innovative features and extensive reach. Here’s why this product received numerous awards.
Mobility – Salesforce is cloud-based. This means anyone within the system in your global organisation can use the product. You don’t need a dedicated IT team to set up the suite and manage it. You only need to log in and start using the system. More than 150,000 companies use Salesforce today to enhance their customer relationships – from any device, anywhere in the world.
Productivity – It’s easy to use and doesn’t consume much of your time. You can monitor marketing channels and web analytics results, sales leads, and customer support tickets. You can predict results or risks and work on prevention solutions or adjust strategies in no time. You can also recommend the next steps to your customer or employee based on the information you have.
Innovation – With AI-embedded features, Salesforce helps you understand your customers better and find hidden opportunities in your business data. Notice patterns and trends, and learn which pieces of content, messages or channels your customers favour. You can analyse data and interactions and give employees access to insights. Automate data entry and workflows with AI chatbots and natural language processing.
Community – With this big a volume of users, you’re sure to find fellow users and experts who can help you with your specific needs and issues or simply guide you on how to optimise the use of your system.
If you haven’t discovered ERP, CRM or Salesforce, it’s high time you do. You’d be missing out on a lot of amazing technologies out there that could put your business on the path to growth and profitability. Don’t get left behind.