In the age of unpredictable economies and global competition, the fast paced marketplace is demanding businesses to meet higher customer expectations at reduced cost but by still maintaining the superior quality standards. Businesses are expected to develop an understanding of how market requirements are driving the resources and processes internally. They are expected to become more agile by minimizing the disruption caused by change and growth with small businesses being no exception. The quantum of disruption caused by even a little growth for small and midsized enterprises is significant. The conventional tools and technologies are not adequate to provide the required inputs and insights needed to grow the business. The businesses are breaking the barriers of boundaries and it is an interconnected world with digital technology leading that connection, communication and collaboration from the front.

The key to business survival is to embrace simple but strong state-of-the-art solutions to stay at par or ahead of the competition. With growing scale of the business, resources start functioning in ‘information silos’. They start believing in their personalized style of working creating information walls between each function. For example, Shop floor function in an Engineering set up may start losing track of input raw material to actual WIP issues because of conversion complexities. Stores in a trading business may start issuing random inventory to sales giving rise to aged or obsolete inventory. Employees may start spending more effort on administrative activities than spending their time on productive means to differentiate their business.

Fortunately, recent technological advancements have enabled practical solutions for these problems in the form of various ERP solutions especially for small businesses, which can help organizations reduce costs and become smarter, leaner and more agile. Every business should come out of the mindset that they are too small for an ERP. In today’s competitive landscape, no business is too small for an ERP solution. ERP systems are designed to manage the problems by integrating all of the regular functions of business no matter how big or small the scale of operations are by providing a means to better manage the company’s resources. Any business can get a real ROI from the use of an integrated ERP system if executed correctly. Businesses should make the right choice of an ERP when evaluating for their company. Some of the factors that may influence the decision are provided here.

Industry segment – This is a critical criteria when evaluating an ERP system. The system should have all the business functions your company regularly uses and should have seamless integration across the functions without the need for buying another product to meet your distinct needs.

User Friendly – Consider the user friendliness of the system. One may not have a lot of time to invest on the learning curve. Look at the system which is self intuitive and easy to navigate with minimal clicks. Simple systems are easy to implement within shorter timelines and use day to day without much gestation period.

  • Customization – Every business is unique with a few processes specially designed to meet their specific business needs. System should have the flexibility to customize to deliver personalized functionality and also integrate with the other external systems.
  • Analytics – Reduce paper work and increase dependency on the system to provide you with the statistics to help you with the key performance metrics. The system should have the analytical and reporting capability to increase user efficiencies.
  • Growth – Selected ERP should help you in your growth strategy. The system should have the capability to scale up depending on the transactional volume and should have a clear upgrade path minimizing the need for replacing it with another system altogether.
  • Cost Effective – With the market dynamics prevailing, every company has become cost conscious. Organizations are moving away from on-premise to cloud solutions. More importantly, choose your ERP which is built on a superior light weight and cloud compatible technology. Native on-premise ERPs when hosted on cloud may have severe performance issues thereby increasing effort and maintenance costs. Besides the initial one time set up cost, ensure that the maintenance is provided on a subscription based model to reduce the Total Cost of Ownership.
  • Security – The ERP system should provide utmost security to your data. It should have the capability to provide encryption based logins and create role based security to enforce segregation of duties as per your company policies.

The selection of ERP plays a critical role in the success of its implementation, reduce the Total Cost of Ownership and maximize your ROI. You need to understand how your business operates to fully understand what you want your ERP program to deliver. Ensure you select the right system and manage the change effectively by weighing the options carefully. Alternatively, seek a consultant specializing in ERP solutions to help you with the ERP selection process. WiiFlex would be glad to present TradeBooks ERP solution to demonstrate its superiority in this space.

Author ProfilePhani Tamarapalli, SVP & CDO, WiiFlex Software Solutions

Phani has 20+ years of experience in ERP consulting and holds a Certification in Production and Inventory Management from APICS (an American association for supply chain management). He has held senior positions at Infosys and Hitachi Consulting in the past serving marquee customers across various industry segments in US, JAPAC, India and ME. He has been a speaker at the Confederation of Indian Industry where he presented his views on ‘Improved Logistics for rapid urbanization and sustained economic growth’. He has also submitted and presented papers at Oracle Applications User Group on value chain planning in US and UK earlier.

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