Wikipedia defines enterprise resource planning (ERP) as “a system that integrates internal and external management information across an entire organization embracing finance/accounting, sales and service, customer relations management, manufacturing, sales and service, etc…”, it’s purpose is “to facilitate the flow of information between all business functions inside…the organization and to manage the connections to outside stakeholders” (from Hossein Bidgoli, The Internet Encyclopedia). Another term for ERP would be Business Management Solutions.
Don’t think that the integration of all of your business functional areas – planning and scheduling, financial reporting, customer relationship management, inventory and supply chain management – is just for big business. The decreasing costs of technology have made these solutions available to everyone. These days, very affordable web-based options can reduce hardware investments and provide access to external team members, local or distant.
The value for any business using ERP is that there is one entry point for all data, which is then shared across the organization. This facilitates, among other things, order entry, speedy payment collection, and reductions in staffing costs, growth costs and data entry errors.
The reports that an ERP system can create, integrating all of the information in your organization, can lead to the development of management reports on which good strategic decisions are made. Which suppliers provide the best service, delivery and pricing? Which staff are the most productive and valuable to the business? What inventory lines cost the least in discounting? What effect do business cycles/seasons have on your bottom line? Which customers are the most profitable and which require the greatest time commitment, and are they the same ones?
Good ERP systems can be tailored to your specific business situations and needs. The automation of processes and workflow can offer advantages for your organization in saving time, increasing productivity and enhancing internal communications.
You might want to think about whether or not your business is ready for a version of ERP that takes into account your business imperatives. How much time are you wasting with redundant data inputs and ad hoc systems? What could you do with more planning/thinking time and good information outputs? It is certainly something to think about. Learn more about this at our Tech Tuesday lunch seminar on May 17.