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In the past, it was very normal for businesses to have multiple platforms installed across the company. The finance department could have had software installed that was in no way integrated to the purchasing department, or to sales.
A surprising amount of companies still operate this way, but many businesses can benefit from an ERP. Enterprise resource planning is used widely across the hospitality sector, as well as in further education, manufacturing, distribution, and health care, among others.
Knowing what an ERP is, is one thing. But what are the characteristics that make up a good ERP, and what could you expect an ERP to do for your business?
They should help automate many tasks
Another characteristic of an ERP is that it can help with automation. Time is wasted on many work tasks that could be done quickly through automation.
ERP allows for the automation of a number of areas. These include processing sales orders, automatic invoicing and late payment letters, and inventory. Enterprise resource planning can assist with automating certain aspects of finance and payroll, and even customer services.
This feature can lead to reduced mistakes being made, employees being used in more important areas, and financial savings.
They help to fully integrate all your departments
Perhaps the biggest characteristic of any ERP is that they integrate all the different departments in a business. Investopedia reports that an ERP can integrate all processes a business needs to run.
This allows departments to share important data easily through the network. It may have been necessary for some work tasks to be duplicated in the past with non-integrated systems, but ERP makes this unnecessary.
All data can be stored centrally through an ERP, allowing for accurate analysis of all the business’s information.
Consistent appearance and interfaces
Due to the main characteristic of an ERP being that it is an integrated system, it should therefore be consistent in its appearance.
If there was any need for someone from the HR department to access a terminal in finance, then it would be helpful for the interface to be similar. This helps with training across different areas and makes the platform easier to use.
They should have real-time reporting
Many business experts have been calling for the end of spreadsheets for years, and many ERP systems can provide far more accurate reporting.
The Sage Intacct ERP allows users to see real-time business performance, without the possibility of human error that spreadsheets attract.
They can be deployed in different ways
Not every company will want to have its own server for an ERP, so there should be different options for how the platform is deployed.
Servers take up space and must also be compliant. They can be expensive, and require servicing. Therefore, some companies would like the option of a cloud-based ERP.
This can also mean avoiding purchasing an ERP outright and paying for a license instead.
Another option is for a hybrid version to be used. This would allow in-office workers to access all the powerful tools of the ERP, and mobile users off-site to have a reduced version available too on the cloud.
They can help to solve problems
With the company’s business data being readily available, ERP should help to spot problems in any area of the company. Reports and data analysis allow issues with supply and production to become clear.
This means that business processes can be changed to help reduce bottlenecks and to increase productivity.
Forbes reports that spreadsheets might actually be damaging to businesses as they are often full of mistakes. Data analysis through ERP provides a far more accurate picture of the business, and this will lead to fewer errors and higher efficiency.
They can help expansion
As you have read above, many businesses still use multiple platforms and applications across different departments. This becomes a problem when it is time to expand.
Knowing the time to adopt an ERP will help with a smooth business expansion, as all areas are integrated seamlessly. A good ERP should be scalable and mean that as far as the systems are concerned, the expansion will be smooth sailing.
What are the benefits of an ERP?
Although you have read about some of the characteristics of an ERP, you should also understand the benefits involved.
All ERP systems should bring the following benefits, and if they don’t then you may have chosen the wrong platform. An ERP consultant can help a business to select the right ERP so that all the benefits are realized.
An ERP should help improve production, make the business more efficient, help to cut costs and to improve morale. When ERP is used successfully it should lead to employees having a better work environment with more efficient processes in place.
These are just some of the characteristics of a good ERP. However, all ERP platforms should have at least some of these. Integration, real-time reporting, and automation are three important characteristics of any ERP.
Without integration, the ERP will have already failed at its purpose, and automation is key to helping to improve a business’s efficiency.
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