How an integrated ERP can maximise your business potential
All successful businesses know one thing: how to deal with change. Which means they have identified and negotiated obstacles that have left others by the wayside – such as business management systems.
Whatever you’ve had in place all this time, chances are it’s now rather inflexible and can no longer support your growth. Its functionality is limited and it probably can’t integrate with any of the latest applications, at least not without bringing in an IT expert for an expensive one-off reconfiguration.
Smart companies know they need to adapt to keep up with their competitors. Which is where an integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system proves its worth.
Getting an upgrade
If you’re a small business and your budget is limited, you might be tempted to replace your old simple system with the modern version, such as an updated accountancy system. But if you’re serious about growing your business, you’re going to need a more integrated system that expands your capability as far as possible – and caters for other parts of the business.
With most small business ERPs you’ll get all the functionality you need. From customer service to sales and even HR, all areas of your company can benefit from a system that increases your efficiency and cuts costs thanks to smarter, quicker, more automated processes.
Of course, you have to use the right ERP. Unfortunately, most entry-level systems are inflexible and can only tolerate a certain level of strain before they start to struggle and the user experience deteriorates rapidly, with your applications slowing to a crawl.
They also have far less capacity to integrate easily with other systems. Which in 2016, at a time where technological integration is part and parcel of everyday life, means that you stand a good chance of getting left behind.
An integrated ERP system
The best ERP software – and this is especially true of the SaaS / cloud-based systems – should contain a greater capacity for integration with other systems via their Application Program Interfaces (APIs). This allows information to be transferred from system to system with accuracy and speed and without manual intervention.
The true benefit of this type of ERP implementation is that businesses can build an ecosystem of system and plug-in apps. Previously, such an integrated system approach could only be achieved with the help of expensive programmers and an individually tailored system (which you couldn’t then upgrade). This has led to an upsurge in productivity previously unachievable at reasonable expense.
Using mobile wasn’t even on the radar a few years ago, which means that if you’re using an older system it’s likely your mobile application will be a clunky add-on. Browsing on smart phones and tablets is now incredibly popular and new technology now delivers web responsive sites which change their shape automatically to match the size of the device being used.
Inbound marketing and ecommerce integration
When selling directly through an e-commerce site you can integrate your platform with the ERP for quicker and more accurate transactions, information sharing (allowing process optimisation), and reducing the opportunities for mistakes to occur.
But your ERP integration with sales and marketing systems can bring significant additional benefits. Marketers love it because it allows identification of those customers that spend the most (and most frequently) and for specific propositions to be designed for them. While sales teams love it because it allows the best customers and those with high potential to be tracked and given superior service.
More dynamic trading while managing risk
Additionally, an integrated ERP and sales system makes it possible to trade more dynamically, by tying the price of goods for sale with stock levels.
As consumers we’re used to seeing flash sales where companies reduce over-stocking with fast, time-limited price reductions. But what if you could target these sales more accurately at the customers who spend the most with you, or at customers you’d like to encourage to purchase more frequently.
The integration means you can reduce stock levels at the same time as improving customer satisfaction – resulting in a win for everybody.