Can Small Businesses Achieve Seamless ERP Integration?
If you are reading this article, then you are already aware that an ERP (or enterprise resource planning) software can help your small business achieve a range of cost, operational and productivity benefits. To make this happen in practice, you first need to successfully implement the ERP system into your business.
Many companies still do not understand the complexity behind an effective ERP integration. It requires careful planning and a lot of attention, in order to achieve the target benefits and avoid project failure. In this article, we explore 5 key points that will help your new ERP implementation go off without a hitch.
1. Start With A Clear Strategy
Every new venture starts with a plan. Choosing and implementing a new business software is not an exception. For the project to go smoothly and have the results you are seeking, you must have a clear strategy and plan how to achieve it. It is important to know what you can expect out of the integration.
Here are some steps you can follow:
Understand your requirements
The first question for you would be: Have you used a business suite before? If you have already used some software or you’re transitioning from an older system, consider what you want to be changed. Implementing ERP for the first time? Consider what you want to accomplish in doing so.
Evaluate your processes and procedures, what information you currently gather and how that information is used. Would some additional information be beneficial? Could some tasks be shortened or removed to make your day-to-day job easier?
Ask your staff and the potential users of the system how their lives can be made easier and more profitable with this new technology. Communicate with the actual users!
There are a lot of questions you can ask yourself and your team, to establish what you really need and want to accomplish with the ERP solution.
Do not establish unreasonable goals
Often, understanding the business requirements is not a very clear process, but is the most important part of the integration. It may help you to map your business workflow through diagrams and to set definite goals and milestones. This aids you to make a specific list of your business goals and prevents you from cost overruns, project delays and increase in efforts.
2. Decide what is the right software solution
Choose an ERP product based on your specific needs - do not focus solely on price!
For a small business an out-of-the-box solution is a better choice than a custom made one. You have already made a list of your requirements and goals, start doing some research on what options are available. There are a number of solutions for small businesses. Most of them have a free trial or demo to help you try and see the software.
I recommend a cloud-based and SaaS (Software as a Service) ERP. It eliminates the need to purchase physical hardware and to hire an IT crew, as the software is hosted by the vendor. Also, you will not need to employ an IT specialist for maintaining and securing the system. You will not need to worry about servers and security.
3. Clean Your Existing Data
Take a good look at historical data and consider how often it gets used. Analyze it and decide which data you still need. Transferring only specific data and files can optimize the process and save a lot of time and energy.
Prepare your data before importing it. Clean and complete data means improved quality - without errors, duplicate records, inconsistency and incorrect formats. This process is called data normalization. Well-structured data is what will ensure reliable import of information.
4. Training & Support Is A Must
You should not start using the implemented ERP system before an adequate training is provided to the users. Most often training is overlooked and left to a very small phase at the end of the project. That makes it difficult for your staff to work with the new software.
Even when the business process is correctly integrated, users tend to use it incorrectly, if they are not provided clear and detailed guidelines. It leads to the failure of an otherwise successful project.
Usually, small companies don't have an entire IT department or even one specialist in this field, so when you're choosing a software, make sure you have a support package included from the vendor. Valuable options for your project success is to be able to purchase additional support, data import and implementation packages.
5. Integrate For The Future
At present, your company is not very large and it will be easy to forget the reasons why you are implementing an ERP system. But you must think in perspective and picture a long-term view of the future. You should know what happens if your work-load increases, if you need to add more features and modules to your current ERP system. This way, when your needs evolve, you will be prepared and continue with your work steadily.
Composity ERP software is totally free for 3 users and is a great start for your ERP research.