Automation for Small & Mid-Size Business: ERP/CRM solutions

automation for small and mid-size businesses using erp crm solutions

In today’s world, information is power. It is crucial that the right information be accessible at the right time as it directly affects your ability to win the deal.  The rise of ERP/CRM systems grew out of the need of businesses to view their data across departments, divisions, countries, etc. These systems allow businesses to integrate and work effectively.

The factors that help determine whether your organization needs an ERP/CRM application include:

  • Multiple programs & spreadsheets – Are employees in the organization storing data in spreadsheets? Is one department exchanging information with another department via emails rather than some common business application?
  • Lack of transparency – Are you unable to get a good view of what a particular area or department is working on? Are the tasks and time spent by your employees unclear.
  • Reporting is arduous and time consuming – Because data is housed in multiple locations (system, Excel, another package, etc.) and must be aggregated, there is a significant time delay between asking for a report and actually receiving it.
  • Productivity Because all of your data will be in a single database, your employees can work on understanding what the data is telling them, rather than spending countless hours (of nonproductive time) trying to do their job

Answering yes to these questions is a strong indicator that your business can significantly improve its efficiency and profitability by migrating to an ERP and/or CRM

Once you make the decision to purchase an ERP system, you’ll have options as to how you deploy the new system.

On premise – In this type, your company hosts the system onsite. This can be costly as you’ll need to invest in infrastructure to host and maintain the integrated systems. Because of the cost involved, only large companies will normally keep everything inhouse.  Cloud –   You can choose to host system in the cloud.

Hybrid – Organizations which already have an ERP or business application of some kind and wants to acquire best of breed on premise & cloud based solutions usually go for this model. The idea is to go for what’s best in each area and then integrate them as per need. For example, lots of organizations have the core finance systems on premise due to data security reasons but have others like HR & Talent Management on Cloud.

There are hundreds of vendors touting ERP/CRM solutions specifically for small and medium businesses. The selection of an ERP system essentially depends on whether the functionality has been successfully implemented in similar organizations. Below are some of the leaders in ERP/CRM applications for small and medium sized businesses.

  • Microsoft Dynamics NAV– This package has been used by businesses since 1984. The functionality runs across the company, from operations to administration, as well as any external packages that are integrated into your database.
  • Oracle Fusion Cloud – Oracle’s Fusion Cloud offering is the new version of Oracle’s ERP. It’s an amalgamation of all the acquisitions that Oracle has made over the past number of years. This software uses ‘best practices’ in all functional areas. Because this is a Cloud product, customizations can only be done in the PaaS (Platform as a Service) layer of the ERP system.
  • SAP – SAP was one of the first ERP packages. With its origins in the manufacturing industry, SAP is used by many of the Fortune 500 companies. Its offerings are robust. However, the ability to modify the code is very limited. SAP has also ventured into Cloud and has an offering in SAP Hana.
  • Infor – Infor has been selling itself for the right sized ERP for small and medium businesses for many years. The package can run in the Cloud. While initially this package was specifically for the manufacturing sector, today they have products that cover a large range of Verticals.

With a wide array of choices (of ERP/CRM systems as well as deployment methodologies), businesses can find the exact package that meets their needs.

In the next article in this series, we will look at how Business Process Management (BPM) applications are filling in the gaps where traditional ERP/CRM applications may not be a great fit.

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