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ERP Software in The Small Business

ERP SOFTWARE FOR SMALL BUSINESS
By Devesh Dwivedi

While Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have become the standard in larger companies as the most effective approach to managing critical business processes and information, now smaller companies and traders are starting to take note of the benefits as well. In the contemporary climate of fierce competition within most business arenas, the necessity for carefully managed business is paramount.

The term ERP stands for "enterprise resource planning," a confusing way to express a very simple concept: Managing each area of your business efficiently. ERP Software is a strategic tool that unifies and manages the core process of a business to improve client and supplier interactions as well as equipping the business with well-defined and controlled processes. It is strange then that the secondary market in India has not really taken it on board.

Without a doubt ERP can be proven to be a valuable tool in unifying the processes of secondary and intermediary market and providing significant cost savings and efficiency improvements. So what should be done while selecting an ERP?

The selection of an ERP system is extremely crucial for your business, as your business depends on it. There are many softwares easily available in the market, but while placing the order for your ERP you need to keep certain things in your mind, like

  • Choose an ERP that natively integrates the features you need: Make out which software gives the most features in your particular sector and in no way get influenced by your accounts counselor or your marketing lineup. It’s your company and foremost you should be certain that it is meeting all your requirements. Never confine yourself among the processes which you are following, this may make your business stagnant. There are several products, which are available in the market with host of features. The blend of these features may result in better answer.
  • Total control of your business : Pick software that is making you independent of outdoor resource. It’s good to have professionals assisting you, but never get bullied by them. I have come across such situations commonly, where the owner is nothing but a puppet of consultants. For the reason that he doesn’t have time to manage all the aspects of his business. Hence he outsources them, and gets reliant on their inputs. These are dangerous signs! What if tomorrow the records are shared with your competitor? What if your consultant asks for further investment, which is not required? What if he suggests you a wrong move miscalculated on legacy systems?

This is where good ERP software can shield you.

  • Always go for a readymade product : Opting for a readymade product is always a wiser decision for SMEs over getting software molded as per your ideas. Incase of getting the software customized as per your requirements, you are making the software stubborn as per the existing model. The only possible upgrade in the system will be the statutory and obligatory changes. This will deprive you of the latest features and advancements, which probably the rest of the market would enjoy.
  • Choose the vendor that knows your industry : Go for a product that focus on your segment and is not generic software. Software functioning with the top companies in your segment is a good choice, as it has proved credentials. It also confirms that it is good enough to handle even your growing needs. The finest choice these days will be to settle on windows based systems as they provide you with multiple windows, resulting in multi-tasking. Any software, which does not provide multi-tasking, is actually eating up the competence of your organization.
  • Management Information System : This is the most important function of ERP. These reports provide you with the insight of business, which in turn help you take decision that, are wise for your business. Hence it facilitates you to control and direct your company more effectively.
  • Maintenance, Support and Upgrades : An ideal ERP system is that, which does not require experts to maintain the system at your premises. Generally products, which are available in the market, provide you with the post sale service. Check the post-sales service background of the software provider, as the most key aspect while buying an ERP product. Here what is important is how fast is the problem addressed? Infact one of the most effective and popular method of support these days is the net-based support. As this provide you with instant and cost effective answers to your queries and upgrades.
  • Commercials : Always remember that “Nothing comes FREE”. A good ERP will be always charged at premium as compared to the rest. If you want good, well integrated, well documented and well developed solution, it is expensive. More expensive than a good server. There’s also cheaper software available, but they’re not really meant for small business use, instead oriented towards clubs and one-man-shops. But what we need to understand is what the ‘Value for money factor’ is? Also chances are that the software which comes cheap will always compromise on some aspects; it can be either post sale support or research and development. Or there could be hidden charges like charging you for virtually every update. Always go for organization driven software rather than individual driven, as this guarantees you a long term relationship and support.
  • Compability with major ERPs:
    Connectivity and Compatibility to ERP systems of your Principal companies confer cost effective communication and data exchange in uniform format. Other benefits could be better monitoring and control, smooth order processing and reduction in order to payment cycle

ERP is a powerful tool, one that can either make or break a business. The right ERP system will do wonders for the bottom line in terms of reduced labor costs, more efficient scheduling and use of material and resources. The return on investment can be immediate. Implemented poorly, ERP can spell a world of headache and frustration. To stay out of the ERP trap, learn from the experience of others, don't be afraid to ask the right questions, and most importantly, know what you want before you start the process. The gold road is sure a long road, but armed with the right information, your company will be on the road to ERP success.

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