The phrase ERP (Entreprise Resource Planning) is mentioned a lot. But what exactly does it consist of? When should you consider if for your company? And how do you identify what you need?
ERPs are management software which centralize all of the company function flows: accounting, business, human resources, etc.
At the start, choosing an ERP software is rather rare. The entrepreneur generally begins by organizing their database on Excel. They eventually evolve towards a tool tailored to their work when the need arises: a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool for business management, or an accounting software for record keeping. Up until this point, no ERP is used and a priori the need does not arise. So where does that change? When can - or should - the company begin thinking about an ERP software?
The need for an ERP tool becomes apparent when:
Let's say that one of your sales staff learns that a client has moved. They note it down on their end, but forget to enter the information in the records so receipts and mail keep getting sent to the old address. In order to foster internal exchange, department meetings can aim to address issues like these. But they risk skipping them. With your nose to the grindstone, it's easy, even common, to forget to transmit information to colleagues.
It's not the size of your company but the volume of flows processed which will cause you to reach the threshold necessitating the implementation of an ERP software. When the information entered by someone from the company becomes accessible throughout your services, your information transmission problems instantly go away. More autonomous, everyone has access to the information they need and can dig through it if necessary. From the structural point of view, the ERP becomes the backbone of the organization. Accessible to all employees, it is at the heart of the tasks and advancement of each. It's collaborative, introducing greater transparency. And for management and the various heads of service, it facilitates activity steering. The figures, available in one place, can be cross-checked to offer a concrete overview of the company's situation, from the financial, competitive and human perspectives.
Companies overall have similar processes: prospecting, sales, billing, internal management... However, each company will function differently, to greater or lesser degrees. A consulting agency, for example, will not operate in the same way as a company in construction: prospecting scenarios, quote submissions, calls for proposals, billing per task or per hour... Some ERP software can also be aimed at one or multiple industries. IOvision is thus aimed more at service companies like agencies and firms, whereas Archipelia positions itself more for retail, trading and production activities.
These ERP software, like industry toolkits, are turnkey solutions. When you work in one activity area, the tool is a priori made for you. However, it's possible that while working in a given area you have your own business model or operating method which differentiates you from your peers. An off-the-shelf software might not suit you in this case. You then have two alternatives:
If a company can do without an ERP, there always comes a moment where it becomes necessary. The ERP software makes internal workflows more fluid and helps to increase productivity, as long as it suits the industry or specific requirements.