This article was written by guest contributor, Taylor Burke. Burke is a writer for TechnologyAdvice, covering marketing and sales. She’s passionate about helping brands become more authentic, transparent, and connected with their audiences.
The digital revolution is changing everything about the way we work. Where we do it, when we do it, the titles we hold, the hierarchy of corporate life — all of it, right down to what specific job duties we own, and what we can entrust to technology.
With so much variance in the “what” and the “how” of work, it’s essential that any software tools you use have equal flexibility. This is perhaps most essential in your enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform because it touches every corner of your business.
What is an ERP platform?
The goal of an ERP platform is to aggregate and automate essential business processes. Implementing an ERP platform into your business can help you in a number of ways, including:
- Saved time through automation
- Improved and well-defined processes
- Organization-wide compliance with those processes
- More security for your business data, and
- Increased insight and analytics
Most ERP platforms are built modularly, meaning customers can select what functions they need their ERP to perform and build a custom platform based on those needs.
So what ERP modules do I need?
It helps to think of ERP modules in terms of departments you may have within your organization. Every department can benefit from ERP, and the more departments and roles that are on board, the better your overall data picture becomes. Below, we define a few ERP modules by departments you likely have within your organization and describe the functionalities they may assign to an ERP and how they will benefit.
Your accounting department’s ability to accurately track and analyze the money coming in and going out affects everything from your strategic planning to your employee’s financial health. With an ERP system, you can gain increased control over and insight into accounts payable and accounts receivable, general ledger, compliance, forecasting, cost management, payroll, and more. It’s an essential module to both your day-to-day planning and your growth management.
2. Inventory Management
The amount of inventory your company keeps on hand can be the difference between meeting or exceeding your revenue goals. The rise of Lean inventory management and flexible warehousing means that companies are taking advantage of modern inventory management tools that can track and even predict where your purchasing departments should focus their attention. The investment in an inventory management tool can lead to higher revenues, less overstock, and big savings when you reduce your warehouse and increase efficiency.
3. Sales (Customer Relationship Management)
The growth of your organization hinges not just on winning new customers, but on keeping and further investing in your existing ones. A customer relationship management module can take over the functionalities of a standalone CRM, improving speed and insights by integrating data with the rest of your organization. It can also take care of the acquisition of new customers via marketing automation, and retention of current customers via customer service management.
4. Production and Manufacturing
Whether your production and manufacturing is done in-house or is outsourced, an ERP can grant you better insight and control to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction while decreasing costs. Demand-driven material requirements planning done through your ERP will help you remain lean, while inventory optimization helps identify problems before they happen. Plus, quality assurance helps you keep down costs and meet expectations.
The on-demand economy is changing customer expectations about the speed of delivery and availability of stock. Distribution management tools in your ERP will aid you in getting a big picture view of order processing, procurement, inventory optimization, logistics, and automation.
In addition to the above modules that have the greatest effect on a single department (with reverberations organization-wide), there are a few ERP modules that will touch every member and team of your enterprise.
6. Project/Process Management
Efficiency is one of the greatest differentiators you can give your business. It lowers your human capital and product costs, increases customer satisfaction, and provides you with the space to strategize for the future. ERP software can provide you with project tracking, document control, project accounting to improve your processes. And because ERP unifies all your departments and functions on one platform, you can ensure the entire organization is compliant.
7. Business Intelligence
Everyone at your organization makes dozens of daily decisions that affect your bottom line and future growth. The more insights you have about the results of past decisions, the greater your ability to make better decisions in the future, faster. This is ERP’s greatest strength — with a unified system, organization-wide implementation, and real-time data, there is no better, smarter way to grow. A unified ERP that includes or integrates with a business intelligence software will give teams a full-spectrum view of the entire enterprise, which can lead to insights that increase efficiencies across the company.
The modular design of an ERP makes it infinitely flexible. As your organization changes, so can your ERP. Consider the above modules as a starting point, and continue to explore more options to meet your evolving needs.