The task of selecting the right ERP for your business can sometimes be more daunting than running the business itself. For starters there are a plethora of offerings that are seemingly targeted at the SME sector. Second, choosing the right ERP could be the difference between choosing between building a growing successful business or struggling for years with an investment that takes up more of your time, than you actually spend running your business.
Before we jump into what are the essential elements of an ERP for a small business. Let us try and understand what the ERP solution must do in order to be valuable to your business. An ERP solution should:
- Capture all of your business information in a single system.
- Provide information at anytime on any aspect of the business
- Be accessible to your team, even if they are not on premises via mobile app.
- Be easy to deploy, so as to cause minimum disruption to your running business
- Have an Intuitive user interface to shorten training time required to onboard your team
The second step in the process is to understand your needs and those of your employees. This is best done through this simple four step process:
- Develop a business case, as to why you need an ERP solution. It helps, if you can define the objectives that you expect to be met with the implementation of an ERP solution.
- Take input from your key employees. Understand their needs and their pain points. An ERP solution that addresses their requirements will be adapted more easily than one that does not.
- Choose your project team in such a manner that it represents all aspects of your organization. They will be key in developing your list of requirements and help achieve internal consensus.
- Finally create a short list of vendors whose product you feel best matches your list of requirements.
While the above two processes might take time and effort, it will make the job of choosing the right ERP solution much easier. Apart from meeting your business objectives, an ERP solution must have the following key elements, to ensure it can grow and adapt with your future business needs:
- Modular: Look for an ERP solution that is modular and allows you to activate and deactivate modules as per your need. You can always plug in new modules where relevant and chose not to have certain modules as per the trajectory of your business. Check if your ERP vendor has the modules you need currently, as well as those your growing business is likely to use in future.
- Flexible: It is important to understand, what kind of ERP your vendor has. Is it an on-premise module, hybrid or a cloud-based solution? Each of these solutions have their own advantages and disadvantages depending on the business you are in. One might work better for you than the other. The best way forward, is to select an ERP vendor who is flexible enough to offer you the right combination of on-premise, cloud or hybrid that works best for your business.
- Adaptable: Find out, if your ERP vendor is adapting to changes in the business and economic environment? Does your vendor, provide you automatic updates to say statutory changes like the introduction of GST by the Government of India? It is critical, to go with a vendor who is constantly updating the product, to reflect changes in the business environment. Remember if your vendor does not do so, you will have to do it. This just means, additional cash that could be deployed more constructively in growing your business.
- Total Cost of Ownership: Most important for a small business. Low Cost of investment with no 3rd party liscence fee and a concurrent user policy make can make an ERP Solution a viable proposition.
- Multi-lingual: Will an employee proficient in English be as comfortable with your ERP solution as one who understands only Hindi? A multi-lingual ERP solution, allows you to roll out one solution across multiple locations without worrying about its adaptability with the local teams.
- Mobile: The ERP solution you go for should be able to provide you and your employees with information anytime, anywhere. An ERP solution that has a mobile app that lets you access relevant information on the go is key in managing business in today’s always on environment.
Finally, the key to selecting the right ERP for your business, lies in completely understanding what you require. The right solution, almost inevitably ticks all the right boxes. Run your business efficiently & boost your business productivity.
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