From beepers and 8-bit computers to smart phones and cloud storage, each new wave of technological innovation builds upon its predecessors. With every new gadget or piece of software, business professionals are finding new and creative ways to use technology to their advantage. Nowadays, if you want to give your business the best chance to succeed, you need to stay at least one step ahead of the technological curve.
Although enterprise resource management (ERP) software has been around for many years, modern systems provide a number of convenient new features that older programs simply cannot offer, including remote access, cloud storage, and information in real time. Upgrading your ERP system is not free, but it can actually save more money in the long run than if you stick with old, outdated software.
Skeptical? It’s understandable. ERP systems are an investment in the future of your company and there is always some degree of risk involved in any business decision. However, the potential benefits of modern ERPs far outweigh the short-term inconveniences that can be associated with switching or upgrading your software. Here are five advantages of modern ERPs that can help save both time and money:
Most ERPs perform the same function: to compile information about the day-to-day operations at every level of your business (customer service, accounting, inventory, human resources, etc.) into one centralized, easy-to-navigate system. However, with cloud storage and remote access, modern ERPs have an easy advantage over their DSL ancestors. Now, you can securely access up-to-date information about your business from anywhere in the world as long as you have Internet connection. You don’t have to worry about leaving for a meeting or a business trip and forgetting an important document at the office. It is all still available to you with a few swipes of your index finger.
With the integration of mobile technology into ERP software, data is more accessible than ever before. Many modern systems like Sage ERP X3 and SYSPRO Espresso have mobile platforms that allow their users to retrieve real-time information from remote locations on their smartphones and tablets. Thanks to modern ERP systems, you can be at a business meeting in New York and know exactly how your company in Sidney is doing while you are away. The instantaneous availability of real-time data allows you to readjust your goals and expectations accordingly and catch potential problems before they occur, helping you stay one step ahead of the game.
Without an ERP, many businesses are forced to use different programs in separate departments. Accounting may use one system while HR and inventory use something completely different. When the time to do quarterly reports or company taxes rolls around, the information from all of these programs is compiled into external databases known as data silos. The downside of data silos is that they cannot exchange information with other software, making it difficult to consolidate your finances because you have to spend time going back and forth between programs. However, ERP systems virtually eliminate this tedious and migraine-inducing task by doing all of the work for you.
Having financial information from all areas of your business consolidated into one central place is extremely handy come tax season. ERP systems track every dollar and pound your company earns or spends and can keep these records for many years afterwards – for as long as you keep the software, basically. ERPs are especially valuable to online companies because they can calculate the correct sales tax on out-of-state or international orders, which your future self will appreciate when it is time to do your taxes.
Combined, these features can help you avoid making costly accounting errors on your taxes that could result in an audit. And if that dreaded moment does occur, your ERP has years of your financial records already compiled into an easily navigable program. With an ERP system, you do not have to worry about losing paper invoices or old tax documents in some dusty old filing cabinet because all of your data is stored on your computer, backed up on cloud storage, and accessible from your smart phone.
In addition to monitoring your finances, ERP systems also keep track of inventory, deliveries, shipments, labor costs, etc. This provides insight on both the macro and micro levels of your business. You can track specific items in a warehouse (which also helps with loss prevention) or check up on individual workers, but you can learn about “big picture” stuff as well. What are your business’ busiest days? Which departments are most efficient? How long does it take to process an order or request? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you reduce overhead while expanding your business by cutting unnecessary expenses.
Because ERPs are comprehensive systems, they eliminate the need for separate programs in every department and help save money spent on hardware, software, and labor. With one system for your entire business, you don’t have to worry about needing hardware to support three or four different programs spread out over multiple departments. Less software usually results in fewer technical difficulties, which eliminates the need for a large IT department. When all is said and done, many ERPs can decrease your administrative and operational costs by 15% or more.
Choosing the right ERP for your business can be a difficult decision, but do not let that deter you from upgrading your software. It will be well worth it in the long run. Remember to take your time and think carefully – you do not want to purchase expensive add-ons that will do little to improve your business. If you are unsure where to start, you should speak with an ERP consultant to figure out exactly what you want and need out of your enterprise resource planning system. Set up a meeting and start investing in the future today!
Hayley Irvin is the SEM Strategist and Outreach Supervisor at the Marketing Zen Group. A native Oklahoman, she loves storms, sunsets, summer, and the OKC Thunder. When she’s not creating awesome content for Marketing Zen, Hayley enjoys writing about basketball, learning about space, and spoiling her pets. She believes collaboration is the key to creativity and loves working with new people. Catch up with her on Twitter @HayleyNIrvin.