There are a range of misconceptions surrounding Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for small businesses and it is widely thought of as a requirement solely for much larger enterprises. However, over the last decade or so, the increased global connectedness of individuals, businesses and financial markets means that now more than ever, small businesses can genuinely compete with their larger counterparts and gain footholds in markets that were previously beyond their reach.
In a fast paced, ever evolving world, these new opportunities for smaller enterprises must surely be a good thing. However, it is always worth remembering that where there are opportunities, there is also competition, and steering a business forward into new and unchartered territory is not without its challenges. That is why ERP is relevant, more so now than ever before for small businesses looking to gain a competitive edge.
The ‘what’- What is ERP?
Small to medium sized businesses often overlook ERP, or dismiss it as something that is only used by larger companies, however Microsoft, with products such as Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 are supporting more and more SME’s to grow and vastly improve efficiency across every aspect of what they do. Raising standards, facilitating easier communication, and automating processes such as CRM and accounting, all in real-time, using the wide range of tools within a cloud-based or on-site ERP software suite.
The ‘why’- why might you need ERP?
The list that forms an answer to this question is a long one and the question itself might be better posed as ‘why wouldn’t you need ERP?’ Regardless of size and regardless of industry, there isn’t a single aspect of the business process that does not benefit from Enterprise Resource Planning: Sales Forecasting, Marketing, all aspects of Financial Management, Human Resources, Project Management and Business Intelligence all form the core of an ERP solution; streamlining and automating the way your business runs and improving efficiency and standards to hitherto unattainable levels whilst outperforming the competition.
The ‘where’ – Cloud-based ERP, or on-site?
Cloud based ERP systems such as Microsoft Dynamics require less in terms of initial financial outlay than an on-site deployment and offer the added benefit of requiring far less computing power and a far easier set up compared to an on-site installation. It is worth noting too that with an on-site ERP solution, you are responsible for backing up data, disaster recovery as well as software and hardware updates and maintenance. Microsoft offers ERP software tailored to smaller businesses and gives you the choice of license payable either on a monthly subscription basis or up-front purchase.
Enterprise Resource Planning is not a solution tailored solely for big businesses. More and more small to medium enterprises are realising this fact and as technology moves forward, and the global connectedness of the world continues, ERP is becoming an essential tool for all.