They key thing to keep in mind when looking for ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software is productivity. Whether it is in managing inventory, financials, HR, or any of the many different areas an ERP can cover. Measurable productivity in saving company time, money, and hassle is the only way to get a real ROI on the product.
There are many bells and whistles available, and vendors often offer many different add-ons or options that might be enticing. But there are a few key areas that can make or break the ERP as far as productivity goes.
Let’s take a look at 6 of these key features in more detail.
As technology has progressed over the past 20 years, making the products mobile has always been a high priority. Whether it be from phones hung on the wall to cell phones, or massive computers to small tablets and laptops, everyone wants to be able to take their items in their hands and move with them. This is becoming more prevalent in the workplace as well, and the ability to access your ERP software from a mobile device is becoming high in demand.
The benefit here is clear; you can be at any spot on the floor or in the building so you can physically see what is in the ERP and how it translates to the page. This can lead to a more accurate recording of important company data and be a big time saver as the users don‘t have to go to and from different work stations. Also, a manager could review the information from home or out of town if they are on a trip elsewhere.
Finding a new ERP that best fits your needs is a time-consuming process. There are many demos, feature lists, and people involved in the evaluation. One thing that is absolutely critical for long term success is the ease of use. There is a learning curve with every ERP, but over time the real user friendliness plays a big role in the overall success of the solution.
One of the main reasons employees reject a new ERP is because it is too hard to use. It should be able to make their jobs easier, not just store all the data electronically. It should allow for the company to easily track, manage, and change data, not just see it. The easier it is to use, the easier it will be to grow with.
Whether it is an actual product, a service, people’s time, or money, every company has to track something. Taking inventory, knowing what is available, what needs to be ordered, what the status of customers’ orders are, are all an absolute must for an ERP solution. Knowing what has shipped and when, what is to be shipped, and anticipating future orders is key as well.
The ERPs role is to automate this process and give a centralized view of all these items on one screen. Looking at previous histories as well, it will help anticipate future orders and what needs to be done to accommodate the purchases. All the while, monitoring the costs and income to make sure the company is profitable.
Managing customers’ payments is key in the accounting package. Keeping track of who paid for what, when and how they paid, and who still has to pay, all in a centralized view can be a huge relief compared to using Excel or paper methods. This can help assure you get paid the right amount and on time.
Taking care of the bottom line and all that factors into it is one of the key reasons to get an ERP system in general, although an ERP system can encompass a lot more. Being able to price a job down to the last penny, knowing what it takes to get it to the customer, and what you get for it is the difference between making a profit and losing money.
With that being the case, the ERP can show you exactly how financially stable you are, what areas you need to increase/decrease spending on, and if you should be charging more or less. In addition, you can see a whole view of the company’s costs including the building, employee salaries, and expenses for a total picture of the finances.
Taking HR from paper forms and employee tracking to a centralized database that can interact with the rest of the company will offer a huge benefit. The amount of time and stress it saves the HR employees alone will be substantial. Take into account that it does this by standardizing the process for all future employee management and records, and centralizing the data will make it easier for every employee there.
Although most ERPs do not offer complete CRM software as part of the package, nearly all have CRM features. Finding a solution that has key features like contact management, marketing automation, and customer service tracking will be very valuable. It will prevent you from having to go find and buy different CRM software, and pay for the cost to integrate the two.
Having the two together means you can reduce the need for double data entry, see detailed histories in both solutions at once, and based on previous orders; send out marketing campaigns and emails to generate business. The tool will be as valuable as any for generating new and repeat business.
The key with these six items is that when they are all in place, expanding and growing with the software over time is feasible. If you lack in any of these areas, you might find that growing in either size of company or size of production is a challenge that causes more problems than profit. Some stand out more than others, but they work together to offer a more fruitful ERP product.