Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have existed since the late 1980’s. The definition or the scope of the term have seen several shifts over the years, but they seem to be localizing to specific functions or modules. ERP used to be focused on finance and accounting. But now, it refers primarily to the set of software tools that an enterprise uses to administer its internal functions, or set of business activities – including but not limited to finance. This definition is, of course, extremely large and open to interpretation. It is that way because it allows each enterprise to choose the tools, or modules, that work for its specific needs.
Some companies choose to custom-make their ERP’s, while others make use of the leading industry providers such as Oracle and SAP. It is also possible to have a hybrid system in place where some services are homegrown while others are purchased or ordered.
While ERPs vary from one enterprise to another, a general expectation might include the following main modules:
- Enterprise asset management: such as corporate performance, and human resources
- Procurement and/or production lifecycle
- Business Intelligence (Customer relationship management (CRM) and sales)
“Historically, ERP implementations have been expensive and time-consuming”, explains Deloitte in ‘Reinventing the ERP Engine’. But ERP is always evolving, and the most recent evolution seems to be going in the direction of cloud computing. While most enterprises were originally hesitant about the idea of placing their data in the cloud, this is less so the case today. After seeing secure and successful implementations of different cloud solutions, many executives and business owners are lured into the advantages of cloud ERP. And what’s not to like? It’s cheaper, more convenient, and developing faster than any in-house solution ever available.
Different Driving Forces
The demand for ERP development is always rising. This is especially backed by the rebranding of the “Big 4” accounting firms. The firms see themselves evolving into “professional services networks”, and are particularly focused on growing in the fields of consulting and risk advisory. A large sector of these two fields is for IT strategy – and within that, knowing ERP ins and outs is a major requirement.
The more knowledge that consultants and advisors have about ERP, the more demand they create for the direction they want ERP systems to go. On the other end, service providers and developers are listening. This demand gave birth to several subcategories or types of ERP systems, the most significant of which are the following:
Innovations in cloud technology increase corporate trust to utilize it. The cost-effectiveness of cloud ERP seems to be the most lucrative factor for many decision makers – especially in small and medium enterprises (SME). Cloud ERP enables business management and reporting around the clock and around the globe, making use of the internet as its home.
If you’re an SME business owner, then Countr Dashboard might be one of the cloud-based ERP tools you utilize to track sales reports, employee shifts, manage inventory, track POS devices, and so much more.
The demand for data and executive functionality to be available on the go has never been higher. Workers at all tiers want to access different aspects of their job through their smartphone devices. This led to the development of several mobile ERP solutions in the last few years. However, considering the complexity of ERP functions in every module, there remains a long way to go for all mobile ERP solutions currently in place. Whether it is deployed as a web app or a dedicated platform applications, mobile ERP is becoming crucial for a business of any size to remain competitive in the market.
So, what are the best solutions on the market when it comes to this? It’s all relative. It really depends on your business and what you expect of your application. NetSuite is a cloud-based business management suite that is designed mobile-first. This means that it is developed with the smallest screens before it makes its way to the larger one. The result? A sleek, phone-appropriate display. However, if you’re not too keen on using a cloud-based ERP, then IQMS EnterpriseIQ is one that can be deployed on premise, with an optional cloud functionality available. Software Advice offers more comprehensive information about mobile ERP.
ERP managers tend to differ on the importance of Social ERP, and on the definition and function of it as well. It generally means social media integration of the enterprise as well as centralized customer care. Think of apps like Intercom for technical support, where an entire team can view a conversation, and it can be picked up by the person who sees themselves fit for it.
A comprehensive social media solution might be Hootsuite, which supports the integration of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube. These competing networks often have different layouts and expectations for their posts. So, utilizing Hootsuite or a similar solution might not be the best idea if a company wants its brand to seamlessly fit into the network. This is often the reason that ERP managers find social ERP not to be of utmost importance. While they agree that a social media strategy is crucial to a business, they don’t believe that integrating it into the ERP infrastructure is the best approach.
For a large enterprise, there might be a legacy ERP system (called a Tier-1 ERP) that is already in place. Many of these systems become outdated as more universal solutions become industry standard. This drives larger enterprises to take on two-tier ERPs, where the legacy system is kept at headquarters, but newer solutions are deployed in subsidiaries or regional offices.
Other reasons might also drive a company to take on this kind of structure, such as translations for different regions, legal considerations, and/or existing standards when expanding into a new country. Depending on the size and function of your business, a two-tier solution could support your work, or wreak havoc on it by adding unnecessary complexity to the organization.
We hope this starter guide helps you in deciding where next to take your business. If you’re a Countr client, recall that our API integration also gives you the flexibility to connect your existing ERP system to the POS. Reach out to us to request a quote or learn more!