Enterprise Resourse Planning 

Whether your business is small or large, there are many benefits to be reaped from the implementation of an ERP system. If your business can relate to having dizzying amounts of software tools, information about your business not being readily available, and tough-to-manage customer service, an ERP system might be for you. 

What is an ERP system?

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. It is a software category that integrates the management of main business processes from various departments such as manufacturing, purchasing, sales, support, finance, and accounting to streamline workflows and reduce manual labor. Think of the core processes needed to run a company such as human resources, financial accounting, manufacturing, order processing, and others. Fundamentally, an ERP integrates these processes into one single system. With this information being readily accessible from a single, centralized data repository, business decisions can be made confidently, knowing your company’s whole picture at any point in time. 

Types of ERP

1) Cloud-Based Enterprise Resource Planning

A cloud-based ERP system is hosted in a cloud computing environment, meaning that your data will be hosted on your vendor’s servers. You can access the cloud through either a web-based login or a private login using a virtual private network or an API interface built into your corporate networking system. 

As a company, you don’t purchase the system, but instead, pay the provider for permission to access it. Therefore, the licensing of a cloud-based ERP system is subscription-based. From a security standpoint, the nature of a cloud-based ERP allows you to avoid front-end visibility and yields your vendor responsible for most of your security. The cost of a cloud-based ERP system is also very accessible, unlike its web-based counterpart. 

2) Web-Based Enterprise Resource Planning

On the other hand, a web-based ERP system, much like the name alludes, is accessible via a web browser. The database may be located on-premise or at a third-party data center. Unlike a cloud-based ERP system, a web-based one can be sold both under a traditional software licensing model (per named user, per concurrent user, per module), or it may be sold under a subscription model. The cost of a web-based ERP system is heftier than a cloud-based one because it depends on how many modules of the application you need.

Benefits 

1) Total Visibility

Think critically about the different systems and tools in place to carry out a single transaction. When the sales staff uses one system to track sales and orders, and the warehouse uses another to manage shipping and inventory, staying on the same page becomes a difficult feat to accomplish. An ERP system allows complete access to all processes of a business and makes data of each department readily available to you, company senior management, and stakeholders. This complete range of vision on all business processes eliminates data silos and provides a unified source of information for everyone to remain on the same page. With all users having access to this comprehensive look into the company, critical questions can be answered quickly and urgent decisions can be made. 

2) Improved Reporting

If someone asked for your ‘sales until day’ or other complicated key performance indicators, how long would it take you to answer? Business is fast-paced and being able to retrieve this information quickly and hassle-free is now a necessity. An ERP system also gives you the ability to make reporting easier and more customizable to fit your specific needs. By implementing an ERP system, your organization can have a single, unified reporting framework for every process. You are able to compare procedures across departments without the hassle of multiple emails and lengthy spreadsheets. With this unified and optimized look into your business reporting, you can fast-track business and financial reporting, share results quickly and easily, and act on insights in real-time. 

3) Reduced IT Costs

Having multiple systems for every business function can easily snowball into an IT nightmare. Constantly reconciling, customizing, and integrating various different systems is both enormously time-consuming and expensive. With ERP, your IT costs become unified and improve efficiency. Rather than spending time and resources on multiple systems, each with its own dedicated staff, support team, and licenses, you can focus all your costs and efforts into a single ERP. Moreover, you also reduce training costs for end-users since they only need to learn one single system.

4) Streamlined Customer Service

If a sales representative is unable to determine a feasible delivery date for a customer, your customer service reputation will decline. However, with an ERP system in place, a better communication channel is set. This leads to better customer care and sales forecasting. Shipping times are streamlined and accumulated sales information gives you the ability to prioritize recurring customers. Due to your client information being centralized and streamlined, your sales team will be able to focus their time in building relationships with customers, rather than managing and maintaining spreadsheets. Through end-to-end tracking, your company will be able to improve customer interactions and web-based ordering processes for better, more meaningful customer service. 

If your company can relate to the situations described above, it is time to start thinking about implementing an ERP system!  The ERP buying process is complicated, time-consuming, and at times an uncertain endeavor. If this is uncharted territory for your company, choosing a 3rd party agnostic partner to ease the implementation is common practice, if not necessary in cases that enterprise vendors are involved. 

Applying a similar approach to product evaluation is just as important. Birch River is a market leader in connecting ERP buyers to the solutions that will work for your business needs. We take an unbiased, in-depth review of your business and apply our professional expertise in the ERP landscape to match you to a tailored solution for your unique business. 

Contact a Birch River representative today in order to start your ERP evaluation process. 

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