“Mom, is it ERP time yet?”
Just when you least expect it, but probably when you need it most, it will be that time. It will be… ERP time.
Here’s the good news. If you have so much as an inkling that you are in need of an ERP system to effectively manage your business, chances are, you’re right.
Here’s the not so good news. There’s an entire world to choose from and that means the added burden of not only selecting a suitable software provider from among hundreds of vendors, but also deciding on the modules you need (or think you need). When it comes to ERP or comparable resource management software, a single module can contain one or several routines to manage and control the specific functionality and capabilities inside your system. So far, so good?
Such is the dilemma for prospective ERP software buyers. Let’s first take a look at just who these buyers are. For the most part, they’re large-scale, multiple license, multiple use companies and organizations. If not, then they’re mom n’ pop shops at the corner with a mere 7 work stations and looking to grow. And they’re also everyone in between – all those SMBs (small-to-medium businesses) from manufacturing to healthcare, to consumer products, retail fashion and construction.
It should come as no surprise then, that most vendors take a modular approach to ERP software. This means that users can select the applications and modules they want in their system based on their business needs and essentially, their pecking order, their rank, so to speak.
Modules are assessed, prodded, studied, verified and then, they’re ranked. If deemed absolute must-haves, as they often are for small businesses, vendors will give these customers only the modules they need. And that’s that.
But then come ERP modules that do not elicit debate. They are the must-have modules that the majority of big-league ERP software vendors offer everyone, regardless of size, status, rank (or serial number) and here’s what they can include:
- Financials & Accounting: Accounts payable, accounts receivable, fixed assets, general ledger, cash management
- Human Resources: Benefits administration, training, payroll, time and attendance, talent management
- Supply Chain Management: Inventory, supply chain planning, supplier scheduling, claim processing, order entry, purchasing
And for good measure, let’s include those ever-popular modules, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), sales management, customer service management, and of course, manufacturing, for those companies who roll out an end-product at the end of the day.
Modules in Moderation
The easiest way to determine exactly which modules your system requires is to pose one simple question: Does your business include manufacturing?
When it comes to manufacturing, it’s such a large and intricate area, so much so, that it’s imperative you choose an ERP system with a robust and powerful manufacturing module – without compromise. You’ll also want to effectively handle operations, production, quality assurance and the ability to predict and assess future manufacturing needs.
If you’re looking for less of a hassle, however, you need to erase manufacturing from the slate and the math instantly becomes easier. If your company’s not turning out plastic nozzles for garden hoses or horizontal stabilizers for speedy airplanes at the end of the day, then chances are you need to upgrade your CRM and/or your accounting modules. It’s indeed ERP time… and it may be time to consider a richer, more flexible ERP system to boost your business with a viable CRM module.
And how do you know which modules, whether new or upgraded, will fit the bill? A seasoned ERP software consultant will often do the trick, but in the meantime, mull over the answers to these: list the modules/functionality that you now rely on, and then list the new modules you believe you’ll need/want in a new system.
If you’ve read this post ’til the very end and you’re still not sure if it’s ERP time yet, then canvass your employees to find out where they suffer most – which areas in the workflow could be made easier with an enhanced ERP system – what would make their jobs easier?
We’re convinced that their answers will put you on the fast track to invest in a better, faster, stronger ERP system. Clearly, our job here is done.