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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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Could This Be the Software That Gives You a Leg Up on the Competition?

If you are an entrepreneur, then one day you likely hope to grow—or “scale,” in industry-speak—your business so that it can meet the demands of a larger number of customers. That is the ideal for most budding businesspeople. Along the way to accomplishing that goal, decisions will have to be made about how to achieve greater efficiencies in your organization and in your supply chain. After all, more lean means more green. A more efficient operation can cut unnecessary productivity waste and maximize your organization’s output.

ERP: The Missing Link?

Many small- to medium-sized businesses, also known as small to midsized businesses (SMBs), turn to tailored business software to give them the fire they need to blast off in productivity. When your entrepreneurial business matures to the point where it can be classified as an SMB, you will find that running it with enterprise resource planning software can help you propel it further with little effort. Most organizations are composed of multiple divisions. Frequently, each division will decide on which type of software suits its needs the best, and then purchase it. Staff in the individual divisions will be suitably trained on the system of choice, and everyone will be happy. If only the latter part of the previous sentence were true.

With different software running throughout an organization, it is not difficult to understand how problems may arise. If the Marketing division is doing one thing with a specific system and Accounting is doing something else with whatever software its team has chosen, for example, inevitably the worlds will collide, so to speak, and usually in a disastrous way. An ERP solution is a unified system. Everyone in every department uses the same system. Imagine how productivity could be ramped up with everyone on the same proverbial page. Problems could be more speedily solved or at least more quickly identified and flagged for proper and immediate follow-up.

Not Just for the Big Boys and Girls Anymore

Charles Phillips, CEO of Infor since 2010 and former co-president of Oracle, presides over an organization that understands the importance of ERP software for SMBs. The company has been making waves by supplying such fairly overlooked organizations, as well as larger organizations, with specific solutions and services for their needs. While Oracle and SAP, two ERP Goliaths, have long provided full-scale solutions mainly for larger organizations, the business software provider Infor has smaller organizations in its crosshairs.

Normally, ERP—each letter is pronounced: E-R-P; it does not rhyme with “burp”—software is found within really big companies that have the big bucks to back it up with. It seems whenever you run across ERP in the technical media, it is always having to do with organizations serving larger markets rather than small markets or the midmarket. However, smaller organizations can most assuredly benefit from ERP as well. The costs of ERP software with a more limited feature set and functionality for smaller organizations are priced accordingly, making it an attractive offering that can give growing organizations a leg up on the competition where they most need it.

Easy to Use

Today’s ERP solutions are easier to use than ever before. They are no longer big, bloated packages that depend on complex commands and steep learning curves, but rather streamlined applications that are intuitive for users. The layouts in these applications have been reconfigured to look more like common software packages, which the majority of everyday users can more readily identify with. Being simpler to use and having dashboards that can give an accurate picture of what is happening across multiple departments, ERP software allows all users in the organization to engage the system and make the entire company more transparent and, therefore, more productive. Such software can also be akin to a company’s having its very own Facebook app in which everyone can view the same information, share relevant information with one another to improve efficiency and freely collaborate together.

In Short

As you know, growing businesses need expert business advice and the right tools to succeed. Business owners must invest wisely. Investing in a good ERP system can make all the difference in the world to a company looking to achieve competitive advantage over not only smaller or equal-sized competitors but also much larger rivals as well. Strategies could be improved, on-time delivery performance could be enhanced, and redundant processes could be cut out, just to name a few benefits that could be enjoyed. All of these benefits ultimately lead to higher degrees of customer satisfaction, which every company desires.

 

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