Have you looked under the hood of your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system lately? Is it doing everything you need it to do? Everything it should do? Does it fall short, and if so, what does that cost your business—in hard dollars, lost productivity and lost opportunities? Does it have the built-in capability to do things you may not know it can do—but if you did, you’d want those, too?
Too many businesses utilize ERP systems that are outdated, not functioning optimally, or not configured to their specialized needs. Before we talk ERP in earnest, let’s step back for a moment and consider what ERP is, what it does, and what it should do for your business.
Consider all the processes that are critical to running your business. These include accounting; customer relationship management; e-commerce; human resources; inventory management; order management; product planning and development; sales and marketing; and more. Where your business once may have had individual software solutions for each business silo, an ERP system integrates all departments and functions across your enterprise into one complete system designed to streamline information and processes.
While ERP software is generally considered to be an enterprise application designed for use by larger businesses (and managed by dedicated teams that handle data analysis and customization, as well as deployment and upgrades), there are also agile small business ERP systems that are customizable to a specific industry, including manufacturing businesses of nearly every size and scale.
From our years of experience deploying and managing ERP systems for numerous clients, we believe there are four key benefits to today’s ERP systems that make them a no-brainer for most manufacturing businesses—including those that currently use older systems.
- More reliable data than data from ERP systems of years past—and more of it: Reliable data assists in decision making to ensure short and long-term success by allowing decision makers to react to the ever-changing demands of the manufacturing industry. Software from today’s leading-edge ERP systems can pull from multiple data sources at once, typically in real time, whereas older systems had more hoops to jump through before data was usable. As a result, reliable data could lead to leaner inventory management by anticipating demand sooner, which means your manufacturing business can save money on over-producing and holding excess inventory.
- Connections that are in line with today’s technology: Modern ERP systems often feature “mobile ERP integration” where mobile devices allow for access to the ERP system and real-time sales and production data. This software allows for business owners to stay connected and well-informed on production status and financial performance at all times. As a result, they can make quicker business decisions about profitable opportunities that may only be available for a limited time.
- Better security for all your business data: With the number of high-profile security breaches growing every day, ensuring that your business and customer data is secure is essential. Upgrading your ERP system will bolster user-permission settings, among other increased security measures, which can prevent sensitive data from ending up in the wrong hands. When security exploits are discovered, modern ERP systems are patched much sooner than aging systems, which decreases the exposure risk of the breach, and greatly reduces the cost associated with addressing breach-related issues.
- Enhanced customization capabilities to design and deploy a system that works for you: Modern ERP systems are more flexible than they have ever been before. Recent advancements in software development have made it possible for ERP systems to be molded around a well-established production process and tailored directly to the needs of your manufacturing business. This flexibility also allows the ERP system to grow with your business and address its ever-changing business needs.
If your business isn’t utilizing an ERP solution, it’s likely that your competitors are, so you should strongly consider implementing one sooner than later.
If your business is utilizing an ERP solution, there’s never a better time than now to take a hard look at it and determine whether (1) it’s the right solution for your business, and (2) it’s helping your business achieve each benefit described above.
What more information on Enterprise Resource Planning? Contact your MarksNelson Smart Technology professional at 816-743-7700.