How to Select the Right ERP SaaS Solution Based on Your Needs

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HOW MANY ERP OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE

What is the Meaning and Function of an ERP?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), refers to data handling software which offers the ability to integrate various processes of a business on a unified system. ERP has been around since the 70s, as a continuation of Materials Requirement Planning (MRP), a software developed from IBM, designed to calculate the resources needed for production of a given product.

Today, widely used in business, ERP software can find application on several key departments of a business, such as Human Resources, Accounting and Finance, or Customer Relationship Management. Furthermore, it offers the added benefit of connecting information contained in all these departments on a main database, allowing end users to interact with it, and ensuring a single “final version” of each entry (information) being available and integrated in every relevant outlet. This basically ensures that information is accurately updated on every relevant department of the business and everyone is “on the same page”, avoiding mistakes and discrepancies that could cost the business to lose money or clients.

Which are the Benefits and Disadvantages of Different ERP?

Which are the Benefits and Disadvantages of Different ERP?

There are several companies offering ERP options, traditionally offered on an on-premise basis, but recently having expanded on SaaS, cloud-based format as well. One of the main, and most well-known, ERP vendors is SAP. Besides SAP, there is Oracle, Workday, Infor, Sage, Intacct and Microsoft. There are some “younger” companies offering only cloud-based ERP options, such as Acumatica, NetSuite, Kenandy, and Plex Systems.

Advantages and disadvantages of different ERP options boil down to what your business is looking for, what size and type of business you have, and how much you are willing to pay. Depending on the type of business (or possibly the specific sector of the business looking to implement ERP), there are different options, some of them being so widely used that are easily recognized by name. For example, popular EPR software options in the business sector of accounting are available from Sage (Sage 300, Sage 100, Sage X3), Microsoft (Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics NAV), SAP (SAP Business One) and Epicor (Epicor 9). On the other hand, popular EPR software options applied in the manufacturing sector include Epicor, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Rootstock, Syspro, and MREasy.

Besides the sector a business is operating, if we are talking for business with a very specific target, its size is also important for the selection of a suitable ERP option. An ERP provider can offer different ERP options for companies of different sizes, for example SAP offers “Business All-In-One” for small and medium businesses, or “Business One” for small, medium or large businesses. Similarly, an ERP provider might only cater for a specific size of business, although usually this indicates that their options are preferentially applicable to small businesses (for example Viewpoint, ComputerEase, or ERPNext). That being said, well-established ERP providers, such as SAP and Oracle, can offer ERP solutions for different departments within a company, ensuring that they integrate seamlessly with each other.

SELECTING AN ERP FOR YOUR NEEDS

General Rules When Shopping for a Suitable ERP

In general, when “shopping” for an ERP solution, one should take into consideration the reputation of the vendor, the available ERP options, the functionalities of a specific software and the ease to use, the availability of technical support and training, and of course, the pricing of the product.

Usually, trusting a well-known ERP provider is beneficial in terms of product functionalities and technical support, but it can also be associated with increased costs. Trusting the data handling of your business to an ERP solution developed and provided from a smaller, not so well-established company might lead to reduced cost for implementation, but it could result to issues with software operability, possibility of glitches upon need for expansion, or lack of personalized support. In the long run, investing on an ostensibly cheaper option might end up costing a business more money. No ERP vendor can claim that the offer the unequivocally best ERP solution, but a client can state that the “X” ERP solution was the best for the needs of their business.

How can an ERP make or break your eCommerce Business... An ERP solution is supposed to be your right hand for your business, integrating information, connecting different departments of your business, keeping up to date with information changes, making sure to present an accurate picture of your business interface to potential clients. Using a fashion retailer with an eCommerce platform as an example, what would happen if online customers could not see half of the available merchandise? Or if the inventory was not updated after every customer purchase and/or delivery from merchandise providers? Or if marketing strategies (such as discount codes, SEO, and online campaigns) could not be applied? These are issues that a suitable ERP system for this particular business would be able to keep on track of, integrate, and make sure that customers see an up-to-date, optimised storefront.

What Should you Definitely Check Before Investing on an ERP for your eCommerce Business...Overall, the ideal SaaS ERP should

  • Offer the ability to be tailored to your business’s needs
  • Be flexible to implement different configurations or applications to cover emerging needs
  • Offer fast, cross-departmental communication and deliver fast insight into resources, sales data, costs, and performance
  • Be simple to operate and allow you to manage your company
  • Improve business-specific areas that could benefit from an integrated approach (e.g. inventory visibility, quality control, waste minimization, responsiveness to customer needs, project management)
  • Offer easy scalability, especially given that we are talking about SaaS options, rather than on-premise options

In a single sentence, the ideal ERP should pave the digital transformation and automation of a company, allowing it to reach, and possibly surpass, the potential envisioned by its creators.

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