What Is ERP & How Can It Benefit My Business?
Choosing a software solution – it is a decision that often represents an important crossroads for businesses when looking to support their operations as they grow. Companies want to make sure they get a fast return on their investment and partner up with the right supplier. However, with a lot of software jargon out there, businesses can often struggle to see what exactly is being proposed and ultimately understand the benefits that are on offer.
For businesses just starting out, they can usually cope with managing information across multiple platforms and spreadsheets. However, as the company grows this can become costly, time-consuming and prone to problems. This is when they begin to look for ways to keep up with increasing customer demand and avoid data mismanagement by investing in what is known as an ERP system.
But what exactly is an ERP system and what does it represent in terms of business management?
What is ERP Software?
The term ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning, and typically represents all-in-one software that acts as a central hub for managing data. ERP represents the evolution of software created to streamline business processes, with its popularity in recent years owed to the way it aims to integrate all essential business processes. Although the scope of an ERP solution will vary from supplier to supplier, typical functions include eCommerce management, order processing, stock control and accounting.
Where does the term come from?
Created in the 60s, ERP software was originally known as Materials Requirements Planning (MRP) software, which was ran on huge mainframe computers and only affordable to larger businesses. It helped companies to balance factory production with inventory management, which enabled them to keep their stock levels low and reduce the amount of money tied up in their inventory.
The software soon expanded beyond manufacturing and stock control, beginning to integrate with other back office functions such as finance, order management and distribution. It had moved on to become a more affordable and available solution, with businesses beyond the manufacturing industry beginning to make use of an integrated software system. By the mid-1990s, governments and non-profit organisations began to use the systems too.
Today, ERP systems have become more advanced, offering powerful real-time data whilst significantly reducing paper processes. Although a lot of modern ERP systems can be cloud-based, this can cause issues and disruption if there are no offline capabilities, such as in the case of a server outage. This why most businesses still prefer a desktop-first ERP solution, which can then be accessed remotely through cloud or app technology.
The ERP acronym was first used in the 1990s by tech research company The Gartner Group. This was as the system moved beyond manufacturing and more business functions suitable for wholesalers, distributors and retailers were beginning to be included.
Why implement an ERP system?
By integrating all of your business processes, you can make your business more agile and increase competitiveness.
- One central database – With an ERP system, all of your data is kept in one single location, making it easier to find and keep up-to-date with real-time integration. This not only helps staff to know exactly where all the data is kept, but it also ensures full operational visibility, enabling any issues to be easily identified and staff to make more informed decisions.
- Improved efficiency – With all the data being collected within one platform and the system doing some of the work for you, you can reach a good level of automation. This enables you to effectively streamline your processes, reduce time spent on tasks, while also enhancing staff collaboration.
- Reduced costs – Using one system means your staff only need to learn how to use one system, with costs also being saved through greater accuracy and efficiency as a lot of information is automatically transferred. Additionally, it means your business only has the cost of one system to consider moving forward.
- Increased security – reduce the risks of inaccurate, inconsistent or lost data by using one system and enhancing data restrictions
OrderWise is a fully integrated solution that helps drive business growth, eliminating the struggles of disconnected systems and bringing all strands of your business back together. Our modular structure is designed to be used by businesses of all sizes, industries and sectors. Operating using cutting-edge desktop and mobile technology, OrderWise offers the flexibility to be installed on your own server or cloud hosted for easy access online – anytime, anywhere.