Do I need ERP? Or, if I have ERP, do I need a new version? These are questions we frequently hear as we advise business owners about putting technology to work in their companies. In our experience, a modern ERP solution is usually a wise choice for all but the smallest firms. Here are some thoughts on what to look for in ERP software.
ERP Software, at a Glance
When it made its debut in the early 1970s, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software was originally intended to help big companies deal with major operational concerns. The ERP toolset helped with supply chain management, large-scale logistics and industrial operations. ERP still offers those features, but it now does so much more as a class of software.
Modern ERP software systems enable a complete range of business management, monitoring and analysis functions in a single solution—often in a unified interface. Acumatica Cloud ERP, for example, provides extensive operational and financial management features, accounting and numerous add-on modules for sales management, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and so forth.
What to Look for in ERP
What makes for a good ERP solution for your business? The answer, of course, will be as unique as your business. No two companies are alike. However, we can suggest a number of common factors that all businesses should seek when identifying the right ERP:
- Basic business drivers—An ERP solution should readily reveal how it will help your business cut costs and increase profits. That may sound basic, but it can get overlooked in the overwhelming process of evaluating advanced features. When assessing ERP, it’s also wise to look at how it will apply to your company’s distinct workflows and market realities. For example, if your business competes based on fast repair service, you need an ERP solution that enables fine-grained field service management.
- Cloud deployment—While there are still compelling reasons for on-premises deployment of ERP in some cases, our experience shows that cloud-hosted ERP is a far better fit for the majority of businesses. The deployment model is inherently flexible, with the ability to add functional modules and scale up capacity without the cost and delay of adding physical servers.
- Workflow automation—ERP helps with cost-cutting and profit growth when it can automate workflows. One of the great strengths of ERP is its ability to streamline business processes and reduce reliance on manual work steps like keying in data from paper forms. This is a critical feature to look for in an ERP solution.
- Integrated add-on modules—Solutions like Acumatica offer a rich selection of add-on modules for functions like warehouse management, payroll, inventory control and more. These should integrate easily into the core ERP functions like accounting and supply chain management. The right ERP for your business will offer a fit between such modules and the way your business runs.
- Industry vertical editions—If you’re in a field like distribution or professional services, a purpose-built ERP for your industry will be a factor to consider in making an ERP selection. Instead of adapting a generic solution, you can take advantage of industry-specific features.
- Data analytics—A suitable ERP solution will contain built-in data analytics, reporting and data visualization capabilities. It will also connect with third party analytics tools with relative ease.
Choosing an ERP solution is a subjective process. We can help. We have worked with many businesses in identifying the right ERP fit for their particular corporate requirements. To learn more about our ERP selection and implementation processes, contact us for a meeting or a demo of Acumatica Cloud ERP.