Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are designed to bring together different areas of a business’s operations into one easy-to-use platform. Before their popularization, a company’s resources all had to be managed separately, and even the best-case scenario was an integrated system cobbled together from different software programs that allowed some data sharing and interdepartmental communications. Thankfully, all that has changed, and companies can now find highly specialized and even customized ERP solutions to meet all of their specific needs.
What Is an ERP System?
Business leaders often get confused when they’re looking into ERP solutions for the first time. The problem is that they’re thinking of ERP as a traditional software application, like an accounting program or HR software, but that’s not the way that it works. ERP systems have modules to cover accounting and HR, but on the whole, they are more like operational platforms than software applications.
Anyone looking for more about ERP systems can take a deep dive to learn the ins and outs of how they work in broader terms. For now, let’s take a look at how modern ERPs meet specific business needs.
Types of Modern ERP Systems
Initially, ERP systems were developed to facilitate the efficient management of manufacturing and distribution industry companies. As a result, just about every system out there features modules for supply chain management, procurement, manufacturing, and compliance. However, today’s ERP solutions are much broader in scope, offering sales and marketing modules, project planning, customer relations management, and more.
Some businesses prefer to purchase from vendors that supply generalized ERP solutions and customize them to meet clients’ needs. Others prefer to work with more industry-specific providers. Either way, be sure the vendor has experience working with others in the industry, as they will be acting as a partner throughout the implementation process and, in most cases, far beyond.
Cloud-Based Solutions for Meeting More Specific Needs
In a world where agility is the buzzword not just of the day but the decade, bulky on-premises ERP solutions are no longer the answer. The most comprehensive products could meet any specific business need, but their all-encompassing nature came at the expense of efficiency and ease of use. Now, cloud-based solutions offer a much better alternative. Well over half of all businesses employing ERP solutions choose cloud-based technologies, and that number is only expected to rise.
What sets cloud-based systems apart is their ability to offer customized solutions without boutique software pricing. Businesses work with vendors, most of whom operate on a Software as a Service (SaaS) business model, to determine their needs and develop an ERP system that has all the right features to meet them without the cost associated with boutique software development.
Because all of the information required to implement every module is stored on the cloud, ERP systems can change and grow with businesses instead of requiring costly upgrades with each expansion. In that way, cloud-based ERPs can meet a diverse array of specific business needs.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Vendor
The choice of vendor is crucial no matter what type of ERP system a business implements. However, it’s particularly important for cloud-based applications since the vendor will continue to provide services long after the initial implementation period. Take the time to investigate and compare options carefully and don’t be afraid to hire a consultant.