5 Ways to Reduce Downtime: Preventive Measures Every Company can take

Despite having a sturdy infrastructure, there are many organizations which face database, software and hardware downtime which lead to shorter periods of shutting down to longer days of non-functionality. What exactly is a downtime period? It is basically an ‘unplanned event which stops production caused by either by human error or machine dysfunction”. System outages are common, but can your company afford this downtime? Here are 5 preventive measures to downtime that companies can follow.

Calculate the expenses of downtime


For any manufacturing unit, the biggest mistake would be not to calculate the ‘real’ expenses of downtime. The calculation should include loss in the production of actual goods, loss in productivity, and the number of man hours which needs to be further devoted to rescheduling. Not to forget the unexpected expenses of repairing equipments and the time which needs to be devoted to satisfy the customers. But the most fatal of these expenses would be reputation damage.

Go for a risk audit


The most effective way to reduce downtime is to go for a risk audit. According to statistics it has been proven that obsolete machines and equipments used by the manufacturers can stall operations leading to sudden downtime. For most outdated or old machines, parts are not available or take weeks to deliver. Think about your support network and get a thorough idea about the availability of the spare parts. A risk audit will ensure that problems are highlighted and you come up with solutions which can help you when you go down.

Prepare your data and reporting systems


Many manufacturers have manual methods of data collation and data management. When you evaluate your current data collection system, do they pinpoint to the macro causes of downtime? A vague report on a non-functional machine is not enough. What you need is real-time access to the entire operational data. ExpandERP is one integrated software which resolves this issue immediately. Once the IT and operational systems are integrated, it helps the manufacturer to know the exact moment when a machine breaks down. Once the cause of downtime is known, it helps in faster and accurate responses.

Updating your documentation


Update all documentation on your equipments like machine history and procedure and up-to-date drawings of an equipment which can be used as easy reference in case of an error. Proper documentation is the key to address unplanned downtime. When the operators have the right information, it becomes easier for them to address the issues. Working without context never helps. You need an integrated software like ExpandERP to show people how proper documentation can improve overall performance of an unit.

Adopt a proactive method

Proactive thinking will allow you to adopt new habits and systems which will stop problems even before they occur. ExpandERP is one such example of proactive thinking. The idea is to automate your processes and maximize the value of those processes leading to increase in operational value. To know more, you can click on Expand ERP

5 Unexpected Things To Expect Before ERP Implementation: Can Selecting Right Vendor Help?

Remember, a good ERP system ‘ideally’ should have an impact on every part of your business. Here we are talking about an ‘ideal’ condition. Reality can be far from ‘ideal’. With countless ERP softwares available in the market, it becomes almost impossible to select the right ERP solution which fits your organization. When you are a first time buyer, the choice becomes more difficult as you can face a number of challenges. Identifying these challenges in the planning stage can solve a lot of problems; the primary being selecting the right vendor.

Do not be confused with too many options

As a business owner, it is crucial to establish, define and understand the unique business processes of the company. If required, prepare a list of questions for the ERP vendor. You not only need the right software, but also the right vendor. Remember, when it comes to ERP solution, it’s not a one-size fits all situation. For example, if you are in the manufacturing or export industry, you will need a reliable ERP software like Expand ERP. With an expert ERP solution like ExpandERP, you will be promised end-to-end solutions which will fulfill the specific requirements of your business

Enquire about the technology specifications of the ERP solution

While selecting the right ERP, think of the technology that the ERP solution is using. Ask whether the ERP solution is turnkey or will be customized as per the organization’s business processes. If the ERP solution is scalable, will it be able to adapt to the growing users or increases in data? Ask about the speed of the product and how it will impact the end user. Another major concern of the organization is whether there will be possible support for multi-company or multi-site environments if the company wants to work on multiple operations. Now, this is where ExpandERP is different from other ERP solutions; as it is hosted on cloud it helps to quickly migrate legacy systems and implement most advanced technology features across different processes and departments effortlessly.

Think about data quality control

Two of the most common data challenges that a company faces while implementing a new ERP system is replacing legacy data and think about a process to consolidate separate solutions. A business should decide on the kind of data which needs to be collected for business processes and operations. This will be closely followed by the clearance of any duplicate or inaccurate data which was part of the previous system.
An expert vendor like eDominar will help you to guide you through the entire process and map the migration of the newly refined data to the new file format. It is absolutely crucial that all data is balanced prior to going live. Remember that the data integrity of the new system can either make or break the implementation of ERP. With ExpandERP, there is absolutely no requirement for in-house IT infrastructure or upgrades. You need not worry about data backup of security.

Talk about the true expenses of the ERP solution

Before you select the vendor or sign a contract, you need to determine the rough estimate of ROI. As a business owner you are likely to evaluate the cost of the ERP platform and whether it is okay to pay that amount, considering the functionalities it will offer. Also, many organizations have the concern whether the charges will be one-time or if they will be recurring. In case, it is the latter, you need to figure out whether or not the organization can afford that amount. You also need to find out about the annual maintenance charges.

Once you evaluate all these expenses, do a quick review about the ROI; your investment should not be more than the projected returns. The Expand team takes care of any user query over remote desktop and phone support at zero expense. As it is a cloud ERP, there will be automatic statutory updates. New reporting changes and new features will get rolled out instantaneously at zero cost.

Will the ERP solution adapt to the business?

A successful ERP implementation depends on the users and their willingness to adapt to new processes and systems. The best way to manage ERP is from top down. It is essential that managers and executives are integrated to the system, so that employees can follow them.

Check out edominer and Cloud ERP Software for one of the effective ERP solutions for your business.

Is ERP Worth It?

Implementing an ERP system tends to be a complex and costly process which leads many to wonder – is ERP worth it and will it really help?

Enterprise Resource Planning, commonly abbreviated as ERP, refers to a business management system that is comprised of various integrated software modules that help to manage and integrate the business functions in an organisation.

Since the late 1980s large companies such as IBM and Microsoft recognised the need of implementing an ERP system to ensure the smooth flow of data and information in face of the ever growing and complex business and technological environment. In order to make the best decision in a timely manner, businesses require efficient inter-organisational data flow.

Take for example Nestle USA. In 1997, the company decided to roll out an ERP system to integrate its various business operations in the country. The implementation would take 6 years, with a budget of approximately $ 200 million. While this may seem like an exorbitant amount, by 2002 the company reported savings of $ 325 million, increased integration within different regions, reduced training costs for employees, and more accurate demand forecasting among various other benefits. In terms of monetary investment alone, the move certainly panned out well. These benefits combined led to greater efficiency, competitiveness and an overall organisational ‘culture of continuous improvement’. Several other companies also share similar stories.

Greater integration and transparency within a company lead to increased productivity, better decision making, reduced operating costs and improved internal communication. Even the customers reap the benefits of successful enterprise integration – increased customer service, satisfaction and order fulfilment are one of the many benefits reported.

Not all businesses are capable, or even suitable for implementing a complex and costly ERP system; however, with the introduction of many out-of-the-box ERP soft wares that are very reasonably priced even small enterprises can reap the benefits of this system. It is apparent that in order to stay competitive in the market, greater efficiency provided by ERP systems and soft wares is necessary.

To be competitive, to be relevant, to be efficient – ERP is essential.

Contributor : Vidushi

GOLDILOCKS AND ERP DECISIONS

ERP Decisions

Goldilocks, SMEs and the quest for ‘Just Right!’

“Goldilocks was wandering through the forest when she chanced upon a house. Famished and tired, she entered and was delighted to see three bowls of porridge to quell her hunger pangs. She tasted the first bowl and exclaimed that it was too hot. The second bowl’s porridge was far too cold. The third bowl however was just right for her and she soon gobbled it all up”

Small and medium sized enterprises are the proverbial Goldilocks of the business world. While Goldilocks strolled aimlessly through the woods in need of food and nourishment, these firms wander through the business world, in need of a solution to help them cope and compete in their industry.Goldilocks had to taste all the bowls of porridge to find the one that was ‘just right’ for her. Much in the same way as Goldilocks, firms also have to go through all the available options to determine which solution is ‘just right’ for their needs.

Just as Goldilocks was famished and in need of nourishment, a firm in today’s hyper competitive environment requires enterprise resource planning solutions to address its needs and hunger for growth. The solutions offered may be ‘too hot’ with far too many components, complexities and costs that would burn the firm. A ‘too cold’ ERP system without the necessary modules to meet the requirements of the firm is not a desirable solution either. An SME can neither have a ‘too hot’ solution or a ‘too cold’ one as both would hurt them and their prospects for growth.

So what is the ‘Just Right!’ solution?

1)The porridge that is ‘just right’ is sufficient in quantity to alleviate Goldilocks’ hunger, nourishing enough to help her grow and at a temperature that renders the meal palatable.

2) Similarly the ERP that is ‘just right’ has all the modules and programs necessary to meet the firm’s current and more pressing business needs, while the system aids the company’s future growth plans – all at an affordable cost. The ‘just right’ ERP should meet the firm’s current pressing needs and the future more complex needs for growth.

3) Most SMEs would find that their Goldilocks solution is a mostly standard ERP system with minimal to moderate customization and costs. Cloud-based enterprise resource planning programs are suitable for these firms as they are affordable and have the scope to be easily modified to meet the firm’s growing needs in the future.

“After finishing the porridge, Goldilocks felt tired and went over to the living room and found three chairs. She sat in the first one and exclaimed “this chair is too big!” The second chair was too big for Goldilocks as well. The third chair appeared to be just right in size for Goldilocks but as soon as she settled in, it broke apart completely!”

When Goldilocks is tired she goes over to a chair, settles into one that appears just right in size. The chair and Goldilocks both come crashing down. Firms with an enterprise resource planning system that opt for the bare minimal support get the same experience. Much like how the ‘just right’ chair was anything but, firms need to be wary of ERP solutions that provide the bare minimum and provide no flexibility or scope for adapting to a growing business.

     As a firm implements the system and starts reaping benefits from the ERP, it starts to increase its efficiency, productivity and growth. The ERP system and vendor should provide adequate support to aid the firm with any troubles it meets along the way. Programs that update automatically and keep the system running on the latest, most efficient system would be ideal for SMEs. A vendor that provides regular support services and is specialized in providing industry-specific solutions would be suitable as they can anticipate the firm’s needs effectively and intuitively as a result of their experience. It is essential that the ERP system and vendor must be capable of increasing the number of modules and services when the scope of the business changes – otherwise the firm may suffer the same fate as Goldilocks.

“Goldilocks feeling sleepy, proceeded upstairs and found three bed. She lay on the first and found it far too hard. The second was far too soft. She tried the third bed, and it was ‘just right’ and she promptly fell asleep.”
   
   Just like Papa Bear’s bed, which was too hard for Goldilocks, a large vendor’s solutions may not be suitable for small and medium enterprises. The big names of the ERP industry are more experienced in addressing the needs of large conglomerates. Their programs, modules and systems are all designed meet to the needs of the Fortune 500s and SMEs often find their solutions uncomfortable. Mama Bear’s bed, being far too soft, was also not right for Goldilocks. Similarly, ERP vendors that are too inexperienced or just offer a few individual modules may not be able to provide quality solutions for the firm.

 Vendors that are specifically focused on providing solutions for SMEs would be more suitable for compared to the ‘big players’ like SAP and Oracle. An out-the-box solution with minimal modifications is enough to meet all the current and future needs of most SMEs at a fraction of the cost of the big firms.

   Much like Goldilocks, firms can experiment with their ERP programs and vendors before settling into their ‘just right’ systems. Firms can draw some wisdom from Goldilocks as well – that is to not settle for anything that is not ‘just right’. When choosing an ERP system firms must keep in mind that it is a long term decision. Unlike Goldilocks, once they choose their bed, they will be lying in it for quite a while.

Contributor : Vidushi

Myth Busters: Data Insecurity on Cloud

“Sure an ERP system is great, but is my data safe on the cloud?”
Due to common misconceptions, and with wide spread myths about cloud storage some companies remain hesitant to move forward into the future.
The cloud enables greater transparency and accessibility, rapid deployment of the software across the company and seamless scaling of business functions to meet market changes. There have been a number of high profile attacks on company data in the past year, a case in point being Sony. These stories are bound to make some hesitant about switching to the cloud.
These are the top buyer misconceptions when it comes to cloud ERP system:
1. Cloud data is more prone to attack
An ERP vendor has more expertise on data security than the average enterprise engaging its services. The physical location of the server, be it on company premises or within a cloud provider’s data center, has little relevance on the server’s potential vulnerability. The data’s security relies less on the physical location of the server and more on the security measures implemented by the center. Companies with on premise ERP have the added responsibility of maintaining its server’s security and maintenance. The generally superior to that of the average enterprise. Thus purely in terms of data security, the cloud system is the better option for most small and medium sized enterprises.
2. Data Residency Control
Many countries have regulations that restrict personal or sensitive data to be exported or stored in a different country. Companies that fear that their data and records may be outsourced without their consent can rest east knowing that there are legislative restrictions to prevent that. By choosing a reputable and reliable ERP vendor who is transparent about the internal and external policies governing the relationship, the firms can be assured that their data is in reliable hands and rest easy.
3. Rival firms with the same vendor can hack and sabotage
A persistent but unfounded concern is that a cloud based system that houses the data of multiple firms is inherently more susceptible to data hacks, leaks and attacks. In a cloud system, firms share a pool of network and storage resources, which brings about this fear, because in the business world, sharing is not about caring. Firms can be assured that the cloud providers segment and secure the servers and resources in such a way that essentially each company’s data is in their own private space, completely detached and inaccessible for others.
4. No Cloud, No Worries!
A firm that has not opted for a cloud ERP system may smugly assume that it is safer. “My data is not stored on the cloud, it is stored on my own computer. I am completely safe!” But if the computers are connected to the internet, the firm is already on the cloud. Given that most, if not all, companies are connected to the internet, no company is perfectly safe from attacks and data theft.
5. Data security is the sole responsibility of the Cloud Provider
The cloud ERP vendor does manage the network security and associated tasks for the firm. However, to rely solely on the vendor for all aspects of data security is a massive folly. Internal data management and confidentiality policies, password policies, employee accessibility, user management and security training of employees are equally, if not more, important when it comes to maintaining data integrity and safety.
There are several reasons to choose a cloud based solution for your business needs. Lower costs, greater accessibility and flexibility are some of the many reasons that firms are increasingly opting for cloud-based ERP. The common myths and misconceptions regarding data security on the cloud are more fiction than fact. Enterprises looking for a suitable ERP system can be rest assured that the cloud options are safe.
Contributor : Vidushi
 

SOFTWARE VS. SYSTEM

A piece of a larger puzzle

The terms ‘accounting software’ and ‘ERP’ are often used interchangeably, but there is a vast

difference among the two. The casual interchangeability in the usage of the two terms has caused confusion among some SMEs about what is the exact difference in the software vs. system. The confusion between the two may have risen as companies that offered accounting software added more features and modules overtime and expanded into full ERP solution providers.

The accounting software that companies used previously dealt solely with financial transactions. The sales of goods, purchase of materials and order tracking were the main features of software solution. Accounting softwares include accounting information such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, trial balances etc. Other frequently bundled functions include billing, expenses, time sheets and sales and purchase orders.

Enterprise resource planning systems encompasses a much broader area and address more business functions. The ERP package covers functions beyond accounting and also factors in qualitative and intangible data. Production planning, ordering, customer relationship management, warehousing, inventory tracking, business intelligence business analytics are comprised within the ERP package. An organization with a fully implemented ERP has greater integration of data and information, better intra-organizational communication and streamlined processes. ERP systems allow a more in-depth view of each function of the organization. Thus ERP results greater transparency and control and by providing real time automatic reports it allows managers to make quick and correct business decisions.

Let’s take the ExpandERP system as an example which offers accounting solutions with financial management, budgeting, receipts and payments included. The package offers much more with customer relationship management, export, procurement and business intelligence modules as well. The entire system integrates and combines the data and with its business intelligence can help predict future profits and losses, lower cost of production by increasing purchase order efficiency, lower operational costs and over time boost the company’s growth.

An accounting software is a part of the ERP package. One can view the accounting solution as a part of the larger jigsaw puzzle that is ERP. While the system would be incomplete without the accounting part, it consists of far more parts that are combined together to form the big integrated ERP picture. Enterprise resource planning offers more than just financial book-keeping and delves into making the whole companies processes as streamlined and efficient as possible. Though the accounting and financial management module is one of the most integral part of the ERP package, its functionalities go far beyond.

Contributor : Vidushi 

 

FUNCTIONALITIES OF ERP SYSTEMS

What exactly does an ERP system offer?

There is much talk about businesses implementing an ERP system to meet the growing needs of their organizations, and manage the complexities that come along with growth. But what exactly are functionalities of ERP and why do businesses need it?

Enterprise Resource Planning, abbreviated as ERP, refers to programs and systems offered to businesses that aid in their day to day transactional processes, business decision making, analytics, reporting, and customer relationship management among other things. In the past it was exclusively in the domain of giant companies that could afford the exorbitant price tags that came with the ERP implementation. Companies such as Nestle, Nike, Hershey’s, and Sony would routinely spend over a 100 million dollars to integrate and streamline their business processes and various branches all over the world. What did an ERP system offer that made it worth so much? We will discuss the major features and functionalities of ERP to shed light on it.

Financial Management and Accounting

The first most basic module in an ERP is that of accounting and financial management. An ERP software allows the employees of an organization to enter day-to-day transactional data and purchases. It provides a framework for the accounting data and transactions of an organization to be entered and updated on a daily basis, giving a real time, accurate financial reports. The company’s assets, liabilities, revenue, profits are all consolidated under one roof. The framework provided by the ERP software helps to standardize the accounting information and streamlines the process. It increases the efficiency of the accounting and finance department of the company and increases transparency of the organization as it allows management and employees to view the components that make up a financial figure. The greater accuracy and transparency helps both the internal and external stakeholders of the company to make business decisions.

Purchasing and Ordering

The ERP program enables companies to automate their purchasing process and optimizes the purchases. The ERP software helps in selecting vendors, planning purchases and managing orders. It integrates the data with other business functions like accounting and warehousing within the system and enables employees to have a detailed overview of their stocks and purchases. It enables the organization to make the best purchase decisions and thus save on costs. The vendor management feature of the module allows the organization to maintain steady supplier relationships. ERP helps to centralize the information and have real time reporting about the happenings of the business. It ultimately helps to make better informed buying decisions.

Warehousing and Production

Businesses can manage their inventory across various warehouses and locations with the help of an ERP software. Manufacturing companies can maintain optimal inventory levels and aids in material requirement planning and production order management. Export-import businesses can maintain optimal stock levels and improve on-time delivery – without experiencing shortages or being forced to maintain surpluses. The ERP program enables accurate inventory tracking and costing, giving managers a keener business insight. The greater efficiency due to the automation lowers inventory costs. The on-time delivery and fewer stock shortages increase customer satisfaction and help the company grow.

Customer Relationship Management

One of the most important features of ERP, this allows businesses to win new customers and increase customer loyalty. The customer relationship management tools help to optimize and integrate the company’s sales, marketing and support processes. The ERP program helps businesses to plan and monitor their marketing campaigns, and later helps to analyze the results. By analyzing the customer’s information, it helps companies identify the most promising prospects and convert these prospects into loyal customers. Efficient management of service contracts and warranties improves customer service times and increases satisfaction levels. The company can increase its sales revenue and look towards greater profits arising from more customer conversions.

Integrating Subsidiaries and Partners

Large companies often have multiple subsidiaries and partners, and intercompany transactions tend to increase business complexities. An ERP system automates, streamlines and integrates intercompany transactions and helps to prevent confusion and reduce errors in reporting. The automation increases organizational efficiency by saving time and effort that would otherwise be spent in manually processing and reconciling company data. The ERP system helps companies comply with governmental rules and regulations regarding inter-organizational transactions. The increased transparency in the reporting of intercompany transaction help to give an accurate picture of the overall performance of the business.

Analytics and Reports

The overall ERP system increases organizational transparency and gives a real-time accurate picture of the company’s financial performance and growth. The streamlined and standardized data enables employees to have a clear understanding of the company’s internal situation. The up-to-date data enables fast and accurate report generation for the company’s shareholders and management. The ERP software often helps in the analysis of business data and enables employees to make well informed decisions.

The standardization and integration of company information increases overall organizational efficiency. The greater transparency that results from the ERP system provides incentive to shareholders to continue their investments. The improved customer service helps to increase loyalty and gain new clients in the process. Overall, the implementation of an ERP system helps the company to grow and maximize its potential.

Contributor : Vidushi

CRM IS ESSENTIAL FOR SURVIVAL

In the age of the hyper-competitive, businesses that fail to provide exceptional services each and every time risk losing out to competitors

That is one of the reasons why CRM program sales have grown exponentially in the past few years. Even small and mid-sized enterprises will now splurge to ensure that they remain ahead of their competition. For companies that are still in two minds, the following benefits of CRM should quell their doubts, knowing a great CRM system is worth the investment.

Improved Customer Service
Customers today expect nothing less than the best when it comes to service. Companies are at greater risk, as one bad customer experience can unleash social media mockery from all corners of the world. Customers today expect a customized experience – long holds, several call transfers and unsatisfactory resolutions to problems are a surefire way to lose both current and potential clients.

A customer relationship management system enables you to identify your customer, know their past purchase history and experience and quickly address their questions and concerns. It allows the service team to recommend products and services that match each individuals’ profile. Customers enjoy better service with fewer hassles and the company benefits from more happy and loyal customers.

Increased Interdepartmental Integration
With a CRM system the sales, marketing and customer service department are able to freely and easily exchange important information about business strategies and processes. The increased collaboration leads to better interdepartmental coordination and creates synergy within the company. This helps achieve organizational goals faster and more efficiently. With a CRM system, all the departments are able to function as a cohesive unit. The three way approach helps to give customers a better experience, convert more leads into sales, and increase company revenues.

Streamlines Functions
In sales, marketing and customer service areas, there are often many formalities that need to be done and recorded. Keeping customer records up to date, scheduling and tracking follow ups to clients, general record keeping about customer inquiries, complaints and resolutions are some of the critical, but often mundane tasks that employees need to complete. A CRM system enables the staff to quickly record data, and automates the follow ups, and customer records. With all the mundane tasks out of the way, the marketing team can focus their energy and efforts on creating impactful campaigns and the sales team can focus their efforts on converting prospects into loyal customers.

Aids in Marketing Campaigns
A CRM system can quickly analyze available data about individuals and identify the most promising prospects among them. The marketing team can identify their target market and design a campaign to convert them. The CRM program enables employees to plan and monitor their campaigns and analyses the effectiveness of their efforts. By allowing businesses to focus on their most promising segments, and fine tune their marketing strategies accordingly, a CRM system generates greater returns and reduces costs. Time, effort and money that would otherwise have been spent on marketing to individuals who would not become customers is thus saved.

Analysis and Reporting
The CRM program integrates customer and sales data and houses it in one place. This reduces data redundancy and allows the program to track and analyze the buying behavior of each customer. Thus when time comes around for a new product purchase, the CRM system enables the sales team to swiftly swoop in and ensure the customer remains loyal to the company. Additionally, companies have an automatic view of which products and services are selling well and which ones are not. Managers have a clear view of the overall sales and services performance of the company. It also allows them to identify the most and least efficient staff members and helps the HR department when time comes around for bonuses and pink slips.

To rule the market, it is essential that you treat your customer like a king. A customer relationship management system enables companies to focus on their customers and provide the best service to them. The data analytics gives staff an overview of each customer and help them to deliver personalized and customized experience to each and every client. The automation and efficiency afforded by the program gives the marketing and sales departments the ability to create and execute impactful campaigns that will ultimately increase the bottom line of the business.

Contributor : Vidushi

 

BAD CRM CAN KILL (COMPANIES)

With the advent of the social customer, businesses nowadays have to be far more careful in their interactions with buyers. One miffed customer can spell a PR disaster for companies.When Jeff Jarvis bought a Dell computer which soon malfunctioned, his repeated calls and mails to the customer service were met with either stony silence or unhelpful automated responses. Becoming disgruntled with the service, he wrote a scathing review on his blog, entitled “Dell Hell” that was shared widely across the internet. Around 10,000 people saw the post each day and shared their equally negative experience with the company. The top management only took notice when the story was shared in the mainstream media – almost too late. The company quickly jumped into action to assure Jarvis and the other bloggers that the matter would be fixed as soon as possible; however, the PR damage was done. In 2006 the company announced that it would be spending $100 million and ‘a lot of blood, sweat and tears’ to fix the issue. A costly disaster to say the least.

In today’s world, where each and every disgruntled customer may lead to a public relations disaster for a company, it becomes essential for businesses to deploy a smooth customer relation management program. To survive in this social setting, a solid CRM system is vital.

A good CRM system gives companies the following key advantages:

  • Allows customers to have seamless interactions with relevant persons in the organization to answer their queries and issues
  •  Gives greater automation to routine processes saving valuable time and resources for the company
  • With data analytics, it enables companies to predict their most valuable potential customers – and ensure optimal contact to secure their loyalty
  •  Creates a faster, more efficient customer relationship system
  •  Increases word of mouth publicity and sales

Had Dell employed a more thoughtful approach to their CRM strategy, perhaps it may have been able to save its blood, sweat, tears and money.

Contributor : Vidushi

How to choose the right ERP?

Choosing among the various ERP options can be a daunting task. With a large number of vendors and options, businesses need to be careful and choose the system that best suits them. The right ERP program can boost the organization’s productivity, lower operating costs and set the company on a path of growth.The plethora of options available need to be carefully assessed to decide on the most suitable system for their needs. The following are some key aspects to keep in mind when weighing your choices:

Have a specific, concrete list of requirement

The foremost task for businesses should be to list out their requirements of the ERP system. The enterprise should pinpoint the current challenges and issues it faces, and how it expects the ERP system to solve it.
The company should identify the specific business processes and key functions required. If the organization already has a system in place and is looking for a new system to match its needs, it should identify the key issues and problems of the current program and voice their concerns to the ERP vendors.
Optimally, companies should opt for ERP programs that address the industry specific needs. Having an extensive ERP system where the majority of the components are not used by the organization is a waste of organizational resources. The functionalities required by the business need to be specified in advance to target the most suitable ERP providers.

Technological requirements and Compatibility

The companies must consider options that are compatible with their business and resources at hand. It should note if the ERP program requires additional hardware, servers and IT related investments. If the company needs a system with their current technology it should opt for vendors that cater to their specific need.
For instance, the majority of small and mid-sized enterprises use computers that run on a Microsoft operating system, and frequently use Word, Excel, Access etc. for business purposes. For these companies, a .NET ERP program would be compatible with their current system and integrate well with the existing framework.

Cost of ERP and Payment Options

The company must consider the options that are within their budget. The cost of implementing the ERP is an important consideration. Some key questions would be whether the ERP deployment requires large upfront payment or investment or does the vendor offer a pay-as-you-go, monthly or yearly subscription option. Another issue to keep in mind if the cost of updating the ERP when the subscription runs out. Businesses should choose programs that are scalable and can be altered as needed to suit the needs of a growing business.

Accessibility and User-friendliness

Businesses must be clear on how much accessibility they want to allow their users. Typically onsite ERP systems are very restricted in nature and can only be accessed within the premises of the office. Cloud based systems allow users to access the data from any part of the world using their web browser. Businesses can choose between an onsite, cloud or a combination ERP system.
A key aspect to consider is the user friendliness of the ERP software. Would employees require extensive training to use the program or is the ERP system intuitive and easy to use? The cost of training employees and the additional time required must be considered. The highly competitive nature of the current business environment requires the company data be accessible by users through the computers, mobile devices and tablets. In order to maximize the benefits of ERP and increase productivity companies should choose a program that would be compatible with multiple devices and operating systems.

Implementation and Customization

The organization must consider how long a particular ERP system take to be successfully deployed and fully functional. The implementation process and the time frame must be considered. Onsite ERP programs take an average of 12 months to be implemented whereas cloud based programs take approximately 3 to 6 months. Typically, the greater the customization of the program, the longer the deployment period. Additionally a highly customized program costs more, not only initially but each time when the program is renewed and updated as well.
A highly customized system would address the need to the enterprise better but would require more time to tailor, implement and cost more. It would also take additional time whenever the program is renewed and updated as the customisation have to be re-done. The companies need to strike a balance between the additional benefits of a customized program and the greater costs and time lags associated with it.

Vendor reputation and Support

Often not discussed but an important matter nonetheless is the vendor’s reputation. Is the vendor known to deliver upon his promises and are former and current clients satisfied with the services provided? A business may ask for references to clients in the same industry to obtain feedback about the vendor’s product and services.
The services offered by the ERP provider are another important aspect to consider. The enterprise needs to evaluate the support system of the vendor and the promptness of the support staff in addressing and rectifying issues that may arise with the ERP program.
A business must carefully weigh all key aspects and optional before choosing an ERP solution. It must be ensured that the system needs the requirements of the enterprise and is well suited to the organizational objectives.