CRM and ERP: What’s the Difference?

There’s no disputing that today’s market offers you many user friendly products that can help you manage your business a little easier.

What’s the challenge in this scenario? You may not know which product to purchase. All businesses work with budgets and chances are you may only have the money to add one tool or resource to your business this year.

When faced with this predicament common questions relate to CRM and ERP products. What’s the difference? Do you need one or both?

The first important fact: they’re not the same thing, even if vendors tell you they are. Read on to get some inside information, empowering you to make informed decisions on where to invest your funds.

What is an ERP?

Here we’re talking about an enterprise resource planning system. As the name suggest its core purpose is to help you manage business operations better. Of course business operations are found in many aspects of your business:

  • Orders and sales
  • Accounts
  • Payroll
  • Human resources

A quality ERP system will easily deploy across various departments, providing dynamic features to different employees.

An important benefit you’ll immediately enjoy after implementing it is that all your departments will have access to standardized information. A high-end system offers this data in real time. If one department notices a problem the entire spectrum of role players will receive alerts instantly.

These features enable you to become more proactive and efficient. Also, when everyone works with the same information it improves efficiency and data accuracy & will enable fast decision making.

What is a CRM?

A CRM is a customer relationship management system. You can see there’s a focus here on a very important aspect of your business: how you interact with customers.

Different role players in your business interact with your customers and a quality CRM will provide the necessary—up to date—information of any customer to whoever needs it. This happens without one party needing to ask someone else for contact details, an update on a query or the latest news on someone’s account.

The system doesn’t only store basic information about the customers, but the details about your interactions with them.

With instant access to all this information sales representatives, customer care agents and your accounting department can get work done faster. Customers also get their feedback faster than usual, resulting in more satisfied clients.

Advanced CRM systems can even assist in the following:

  • Help you with lead generation
  • Steps in planning a marketing campaign can be automated with client information being instantly accessible
  • Analysis of customer activities such as buying habits becomes easier, resulting in more effective marketing

You’ll also enjoy automation of various tasks your employees perform manually at the moment. You can save time while delivering better service than ever before.

The Differences Explained

With ERPs being active in many departments of your business it’s clear that some of their features will overlap with CRMs. To gauge which one you should invest in, let’s discuss similarities and draw clear lines between these systems.

Purpose & Functions

Your CRM is customer focused and will specifically help you improve your relationship with them. But note that this does affect multiple departments, all focused on your customers’ experience of your company:

  • Customer service
  • Marketing
  • Sales

The systems will help automate sales processes thereby saving time, speeding up your activities and meeting customer expectations faster than before.

A CRM is therefore a handy tool if you realize the lack of customer satisfaction is the main problem in not reaching your planned sales figures. Instead of restructuring your entire business this one small adjustment of implementing a CRM could bring the change you need to be successful.

In contrast an ERP can help you upgrade processes in even more parts of your business. You can become more proactive as access to information will help you notice challenges before they become problems.

You’ll have a one data base that supports all the features. Features will assist with tasks such as:

  • Costing
  • Supply chain management
  • Scheduling
  • Life cycle management of products

CRM functions such as sales, marketing, call centers and customer services may form part of an ERP’s functions too.

Effect on Your Business

It makes sense that any resource you acquire should affect your bottom line.

Your ERP helps you do this as you will invest less of your capital in managing business processes. You’ll less to cover overheads which instantly frees up cashflow for other aspects of your business.

If you use your CRM effectively you’ll notice an in crease in sales. This is thanks to close relationships with customers that make them more loyal to your brand.

Users

There are similarities in who will use the systems as both can be used by multiple role players. With an ERP an employee can enter new data while managers will use the data when making decisions. In a similar fashion the CRM’s data can be updated by sales clerks while upper management will draw on the data to create sales projections.

Which One do You Need?

You can see they’ll have different results, but that doesn’t mean you need both right now.

Smaller business can often function well without an ERP system. Your departments may by physically in close proximity to each other and employees can easily share information to the few relevant role players. Once you grow and the infrastructure becomes more complex it’s a smart move to implement an ERP.

In contrast almost any business would be wise in acquiring a CRM. Your relationships with your customers at the start of your company will determine how quickly you grow. Implementing a structured, effective way to manage client information—instead of a messy paper based system many small businesses settle for—is an investment worth making.

Should you invest in an ERP that can handle CRM functions too? Simply make sure you don’t pay for features you’ll never use.

Conclusion

There’s no question that these products can influence your productivity and even your revenue for the better. But it only happens if the system’s core functionalities relate to your needs. And yes, some businesses may need both.

Research well before you buy and then enjoy how streamlined your business becomes.

Cloud ERP vs On-Premise ERP: A Comprehensive Comparison

If there was an easy answer, we would state it right here. But as with many business solutions, deciding between a cloud ERP and an on-premise version, is a very personal choice. It’s almost a cliché, but it’s true: Find what works for you.

But it’s challenging, right? Technology changes so rapidly that it’s difficult to know what is the best long term decision for your business.

We’re going to help you: Your best bet is to make decisions with as much information as possible on hand. And we summarized the most important below.

Definitions

Let’s start with the basics so there are no misunderstandings.

Cloud ERP

“In the cloud” is becoming a popular term in many environments, also in ERP. If you pick this method your data will be hosted by the ERP service provider. It doesn’t even use the vendor’s own hardware always, but rather your data is held on the internet ‘cloud’.

One of the unique features is how you access this information. You’ll be using your internet web browser. This type is often called SaaS (Software as a Service). You and your employees don’t need to download software to your computers necessarily. Everything happens on the cloud.

Recommended read – “5 Good Reasons to Deploy a Cloud ERP“.

On Premise ERP

This system will be installed on your premises as the name suggests. It will be using your own hardware and servers. What you may not have thought of is that it will also be your IT team managing the data, even though you have a service provider offering you the program.

Now, how do you pick between the two?

Vital Knowledge Before You Initiate ERP

Because there is no right or wrong method to use, don’t let the decision dictate to you. The best starting point is to assess how you currently function and finding an ERP that aligns with it in as many ways possible.

However, if a certain method will be more beneficial (we’ll discuss that below), yes, it’s worth investing in the necessary assets to make it work.

Now, write down your priorities and then see how the differences below will help you achieve your personal goals & suit your preferences.

The Important Differences

We’ll describe each scenario and offer our opinion on the best option. However, don’t simply take our word for it. Remember, it’s about your personal preferences, needs and capabilities too. See how it applies to your unique situation before deciding which one comes out on top from your perspective.

Costs Involved

Your equipment determines how effective your ERP will function and when you have an on-premise ERP the responsibility lies with you:

  • Obtaining hardware and servers
  • Employing capable IT personnel to maintain, upgrade and deployment
  • Managing customizations

This is a huge capital investment at the start of the venture, though you may pay less each month to a service provider. You also have to pay employee salaries.

In contrast, a cloud ERP doesn’t require you to invest in assets and most of the maintenance work is done by the SaaS team on your behalf. You don’t pay salaries so your only expense will be monthly fees.

An added bonus with a cloud system is that your IT personnel can focus on other improvements in your company, rather than maintaining the ERP. This is often a full time requirement, leaving no time for other projects.

Winner: It seems there’s a clear winner as cloud based ERPs will cost you less in the long run, even though you’ll commit to monthly payments. If you already have hardware and servers on hand, you may consider using them though. Some may simply have to opt for the cloud option because of a lack of cash flow.

Changes Over Time

You need to pick an option that makes long term sense. You don’t want a solution only for today, but one that will ensure optimal functioning months and years from now. That means your software must move with the times:

  • Technology changes and you can’t afford falling behind
  • Your business will change and your ERP must keep up

How do the two options support these scenarios?

Upgrades are necessary but they can create problems in on premise ERPs. Usually if you upgrade your software, you’ll lose previous changes, such as customizations your IT team implemented. This means every upgrade requires a tedious implementation and customization process. This often leads to businesses not doing upgrades at all.

On a cloud based ERP upgrades are effortless. The vendor implements the upgrade and everyone using the SaaS instantly has access to the new features. Customizations can usually be incorporated seamlessly.

Of course your staff must be prepared to often see the new changes, with or without prior warning.

There may be challenges to integrate a cloud based system with your unique setup, but the characteristic of quality cloud ERPs is that they are flexible.

Winner: Cloud ERP. If you don’t like sudden changes you may want to implement changes yourself however; as and when you’re ready.

Is There a Better, Faster Performer?

Of course, you want to know how this will affect your day to day functioning, right. Here are a few facts:

  • It’s faster and easier to implement a cloud ERP as you don’t spend time acquiring an infrastructure
  • A cloud ERP is more accessible to employees
  • If you don’t have quality internet connections an on-premise system works better
  • Having multiple users won’t affect the efficacy of a cloud based system

Winner: Your location and internet access determine the winner

Can One Save You More Time Than the Other?

Studies show even after using the cloud method for years, some users still pay up to 50% less compared to creating your own server system and employing the staff it will require to maintain.

Winner: Cloud ERP

What is More Secure?

The industry took its time before businesses decided it’s safe to store sensitive personal or client information on the cloud. It is easier to keep data secure on the cloud, contrary to what many believe.

Today it’s common knowledge that it’s easier and more cost effective to store data safely on the cloud. Vendors often offer backup services, disaster recovery services and industry standard security features. Doing this by yourself requires a lot of effort and money.

Winner: Cloud ERP

Conclusion

These are only a few aspects that play a role in deciding the best option: Cloud vs On-premise. Did you write down your score according to your unique setup? Which method came out on top?

If you need help in choosing the right type of ERP for your business, do contact us.

ERP Integration: Strategy, Challenges, Benefits, and Key Types

Leading companies are adding new talent to support a digital operating model. To develop sharp insights using digital tools, procurement teams will need data science and analytics expertise.

Improving the B2B experience for your customers using SAP Business One

Leading companies are adding new talent to support a digital operating model. To develop sharp insights using digital tools, procurement teams will need data science and analytics expertise.

6 Things Every CFO Should Know About ERP

So, you’ve heard the buzz words in the industry: Everyone’s using it, so you should too: ERPs.

In business, a popular trend usually has some value for the industry, instead of just being a gimmick. So, it’s worthwhile keeping an eye on what others do. That’s definitely the case with ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). But that doesn’t mean you should be too quick in joining the crowd.

Warning: Making the wrong decisions during planning, vetting service providers or implementing could lead to more problems, rather than this great technology helping you enhance your business.

So, we’ll break it down for you: The most important facts any CFO should know about ERPs. Read this before embarking on this exciting, (usually advantageous) journey.

How Does This Relate to CFOs?

No, you can’t leave these important decisions in the hands of the IT department, the office manager or a committee. An ERP will affect business processes and therefore influence the company’s growth. That makes it relevant to a CFO’s responsibility in the company and you must work together with other role players to ensure a desirable outcome.

Here’s what you need to know.

The 6 Important Facts

1) You Must Understand the Process

Don’t leave it to others who are more technically minded. You can easily miss important aspects—which will affect costs—if you don’t educate yourself. For this reason, consider the most important software concepts relating to ERP implementation:

  • Installation: What it takes to load software on hardware such as a server.
  • Configuration: Making sure the software works according to your workflows and security requirements.
  • Customization: Modifying software to suit your unique needs, often involving changing code.
  • Conversion of data: Importing data into the system. If not in a compatible format, it must be done manually.
  • Integration: How it communicates with other software platforms. (see more below)

2) You Must be Hosted on a True Cloud

Don’t be confused by unknown terms or technical jargon. The simple question to ask your service provider is whether the ERP is hosted on the cloud. This is the preferred method at the moment. It’s easier and more secure.

However it won’t help to simply be hosted on the cloud. Confirm that the solution has been rewritten for the cloud. This ensures it will keep up with future changes. As CFO you must ensure you invest in quality long term solutions.

3) Your Service Provider’s Vision & Longevity Determine Your Own Future

The next aspect that will affect whether this is a long term answer is the service provider’s own situation. You have the right to ask questions and research certain aspects of the vendors that offer you their services:

  • Does the vendor’s financial situation make it a viable option for the long term? This isn’t simply about making sure you get good service. If the vendor hosts your data on their servers or on the cloud you need to make sure you’ll have access to that information for years to come. That won’t happen if a company suddenly goes bankrupt.
  • The vendor you pick must be relevant to today’s market, but also stay relevant in future. We all know how fast the tech environment changes. It’s your prerogative to ask questions about how they plan to stay on par. Request information on their research and development plans to ensure they’ll keep on giving you a high end product for years to come.

4) Integration is Key

Your ERP isn’t the only system that will determine your company’s performance. You need all factors to work together well (integrate) if you want optimum results and frustration free days. This means you have to ask about integration with any aspects regarding:

  • EPM: Enterprise performance management
  • SCM: Supply chain management
  • HCM: Human capital management
  • CX: Customer experience

It’s vital that different platforms work together well, so you don’t have problems such as inconsistency of data between two systems.

Consider this before you pick a vendor and use the one giving the best support. You don’t want to face cumbersome processes where you and your team have to handle integration after the ERP is implemented. You also don’t want to deal with difficult processes of continuously keeping all the different platforms updated. They should function as one unit.

A specific risk—especially relevant to a CFO—is integrating ERP with EPM. You want your systems integrated, instead of doing a lot of work manually.

Luckily this is usually unnecessary in today’s market—you just have to pick the right vendor.

5) It Requires Teamwork

Your goal is to see the ERP deliver excellent results, helping various aspects of your business more effectively:

  • Supply chain
  • Manufacturing
  • HR
  • Payroll

That’s a lot of people that have to work together and you need to make sure all of them get on board and stay on board. A negative attitude towards the new system will prevent employees from using it effectively. This immediately affects productivity and your bottom line.

To ensure everyone’s buy in it’s important to:

  • Identify needs in all departments and making sure the ERP will meet these requirements. This way everyone will experience an enhanced workflow and see the value of learning the new system.
  • You won’t get departments’ buy in if their top leadership don’t believe the change is necessary. That’s why you need key role players and even your CIO (Chief Information Officer) to become part of planning & implementation.

6) Scalability = Success

The key to picking the right ERP is realizing that one size doesn’t fit all. You need an ERP that matches your unique requirements, not necessarily the one your greatest competitor implemented. And here’s why: Scalability.

If your ERP doesn’t cater for your size business, it won’t be effective. As CFO you’ll need financial planning tools that suit your business size, whether small, medium or large.

Apart from catering for your unique business needs, it must also be scalable to serve different employees well. As much as you need features to do financial planning, other role players in the business also takes part in these processes. The ERP must cater for their responsibilities too.

Conclusion

Yes, adding ERP to your business will take a considerable amount of time and effort. But, as a CFO, it’s essential you prioritize this process if you want to see positive long term results. Don’t worry. It will be worth it.

5 Key Reasons Why ERP Implementation Fails

Even though the ERP system has been proven to be an efficient method of managing one’s business, any system is only as good as the people who operate it. A shocking 75% of all ERP implementation is a failure due to lack of knowledge or training and budgetary constraints.

Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” These words ring true in the business environment in many aspects and this is no different.

No matter which industry you specialise in, “proper preparation prevents poor performance”. This saying is well known as the “5 P’s of success” originally created by the British army.  How does this link to the failure of implantation of an ERP project into a business? Research, information, training and a high standard of management are essential to the success of this system in a business.

There are obviously a dozen or more reasons why ERP implementation might fail, but below are a few valid points to take into consideration.

Poor Planning in the Initial Implementation Phase

Too many businesses rush into the process of incorporating this complex system into their existing business model. The truth is that Enterprise Resource Planning is a large and complex system. It takes time, dedicated training and adequate management to flourish as a proficient tool within your business. Time devotion to this phase is paramount.

How could something prosper in a business when nobody really knows how to operate it confidently? The relevant trained employee/s should know without any doubt that the results of the data collected is 100% accurate with utmost certainty.

Should this phase be tended too with enough diligence, ERP could prove to be an invaluable aid tool to your business.

Lack of Adaptability

In all areas of life, change is never easy, but necessary for growth. A lack of adaptability often prevents growth and tends to have an adverse effect on productivity. The same applies when it comes to introducing new systems into a business. The more adaptable your business model and staff are, the greater your chances of encouraging growth.

In an ever-changing and extremely competitive business world, flexibility is likely to be one of the key factors to being a step above the rest.

Ask yourself how trainable and adaptable your staff are. How dependant is your daily operation on your current business management system, should you have one? Can the business afford the time needed to dedicate to training? These are a few questions that need to be answered with a positive outcome prior to committing to an ERP project.

Poor Data Quality

Should the ERP system be integrated into an existing operation, the quality of the existing data would be paramount. ERP needs to be well equipped with data to enable it to process information like sales trends, customer data, staff efficiency and the general day to day operations of the existing business model.

Due to the nature of ERP, this data would need to be of a high quality to fit into ERP to ensure accuracy. The data collected by this system is of no worth if the input is not accurate. ERP thrives on the quality of the data used to make it efficient.

A consideration in this area would be to plan the transfer of the data from the current system being used, to the ERP system. Loss of data would cause a negative knock-on effect, resulting in the transfer from the current system to ERP obsolete until sufficient data could be accumulated. You might as well not waste any time on capturing data in any specific department if the data is not good quality, accurate and complete.

There is no use in starting to build a puzzle if you know that pieces are missing, and the full picture will never be experienced.

Lack of IT Support

In-house IT support is a huge advantage to the ERP system. Though this is not mandatory, implementation into a business without an in-house IT department has proven to be costly and time consuming. Even in a case where an IT department exists within the organization, enough and specialized ERP training would be necessary to ensure proficient expodition of any repairs or updates that may be necessary from time to time.

Another option would be to hire prequalified staff who have already undergone training and have experience in ERP operation. Using external IT vendors would strain the organization in costs and efficiency in terms of call out times. This would still make more sense than an untrained employee stumbling around a problem for hours on end with insufficient knowledge and experience to deal with the challenge at hand.

Lack of Data Sharing Ability

One of, if not THE most integral aspect to the successful implementation of ERP into an organization is the ability and capability to share data in the supply chain. Without this the system can be rendered as useless. Keeping up to date with the latest updates and putting them into practice would determine whether this system will make or break your company. Difficulties in the sharing of data could cost time and funds and end up being more of a liability than an asset to an organization.

Customization add-ons and the migration from an older system to ERP may pose as a challenge in this aspect and would need careful attention in the beginning phases of implementation.

Conclusion

75% is an alarming number of failures of the implementation of ERP. All factors above considered, it is paramount that all of them be investigated and thought through thoroughly prior to the implementation of ERP into a business.

Has the right software been chosen? Has there been enough training offered to the right employees to optimize productivity? Does your current data match up to the standard? Do you have informed and capable support available? Is your system correctly customized to the specific business? Does the business have the capacity to carry the cost of such a system? These are all important things to consider before implementing ERP in a business.

The efficiency of this system has been proven for decades, but if not managed correctly, could have a negative effect on an otherwise stable business. On a positive note, if the answer to the above questions are yes, Enterprise Resource Planning software could revolutionize your business.

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These new screens aren’t just great looking; they also help you improve productivity. You can access Sage 300c as you do today or leverage the new web screens using a browser from a desktop, laptop, or tablet. You have the freedom of choice on how you want to access Sage 300—anytime, anywhere.

Enjoy mobile access with new modern web screens

Sage 300c features new web screens that can be run side-by-side with the Sage 300 traditional Windows screens. These web screens are intuitive, easy to navigate, and provide the same functionality you have today in Sage 300.

Keep tabs on critical information with the new homepage

Get a pulse on your business with the new web homepage in Sage 300c. You can select an anytime, anywhere dashboard specific to your business with key performance indicators (KPI) to access in the office or away through any mobile device.

Do contact us for more information regarding SAGE 300C.

5 Good Reasons to Deploy a Cloud ERP

The world is changing quickly and if you want your business to be relevant 10 years from now, you have a responsibility: Make the right decisions now.

This may seem a bit obvious, but many business leaders don’t apply this guideline in all aspects of their companies yet, especially their tech departments. Not that anyone should feel guilty. The tech industry changed quickly and excessively over the past two decades. Now it’s difficult to keep up, understand what you should prioritize and then lobby for the funds to implement the technology.

So, we’re going to provide insight on one aspect: Your cloud ERP. Yes, this MUST be at the top of your to do list.

What is a Cloud ERP?

Your business success depends on how efficiently you can function. An ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system is one of the best ways to streamline:

  • Taking orders from customers
  • Storing data (e.g. financial figures)
  • Keeping inventory
  • Operation scheduling

The focus is on integrating and automating your company’s core business.

But don’t simply pick the first system you come across. You can firstly opt for a Cloud ERP, which will be hosted on the vendor’s servers. Alternatively, there’s an on-premise ERP for which you use your own computers and servers.

So why do we vehemently promote a Cloud ERP?

Reasons to Deploy Your Cloud ERP

It’s Your Safer Option

It’s common to find opposition to new technology and many people feel sending their data ‘up in the air’ is a dangerous notion. The truth is that it’s the more secure option between various storage methods.

Cloud systems have excellent encryption features, such as 128-bit encryption for any data you send into the cloud. When you use a cloud system your paid for services include personnel that are dedicated to keep the cloud secure.

This is much more effective than an overworked IT department on site where a large workload may keep them from ensuring optimum security levels. Can you guarantee that your team can implement and test the necessary features 24/7? It only takes one breach to put your entire system at risk.

It Makes Financial Sense

Of course, you obviously need to consider your budget. You may expect to pay more for a such a professional service, than simply hosing it yourself. Luckily, in most circumstances, that’s a myth.

If you aim to create a top of the range system on your premises, you’ll have to spend a large amount of capital on hardware. This isn’t viable for new businesses who don’t have the funds yet and for established businesses, this is an unnecessary expense.

Added to this is the cost of running servers, as well as time—and money—lost when you deploy new features.

On a cloud system you pay for the use of servers, but this is much more economical than buying them yourself. Thanks to faster deployment and excellent scalability a cloud based system positively affects productivity and therefore revenue.

An on-premise system also demands the presence of on site experts. If you don’t have an equipped IT team a small problem can lead to huge losses while you wait for a professional from elsewhere to arrive. With a cloud ERP you don’t have to grow your IT department if your finances don’t allow for it.

This isn’t only beneficial to your budget now, but also in the long term.

Enjoy a User Friendly System

Because new technology seems daunting to many people you may think it’s the more difficult option to use in your business. Once again, a myth!

A cloud ERP has many user friendly features. First of all, it’s a common feature that cloud ERPs are designed according to systems most employees know already, which include:

  • Intuitive dashboards
  • Familiar interfaces
  • User friendly features

Vendors understand the necessity of not wasting too much time on getting to know a new setup.

If speed is a priority you’ll also pick a cloud ERP for how quickly you can implement it. It’s a fact that they can be deployed in much shorter time frames than on premise ERPs. The benefit here is that there won’t even be much disruption to your normal processes when you start using it.

And now think of how you’re conducting your business. Don’t your team members function more effectively when they have access to business information at all times, no matter where they are? This is easily possible with a cloud ERP, as you only need an internet connection to access the cloud.

Upgrades Made Simple

As mentioned, technology changes quickly. That means your system won’t always function the way it does today. Upgrading an on-premise system is loaded with challenges:

  • It adds more pressure to IT departments who in general have too much to handle already.
  • Downloading upgrades to computers is bothersome to workers, as it takes time.
  • Testing an upgrade can disrupt workers and lower productivity levels.

When upgrades happen on the cloud, most of these challenges are negated. IT personnel can focus on their other work and you don’t run the risk of a possible breach because they don’t have time to work on the new security upgrade.

Staff members don’t waste time on downloading upgrades or testing the software, because it’s done on your behalf.

Upgrades aren’t only simpler, but actually more cost effective, since upgrades to software are usually covered by the premiums you pay.

It Shows Your Concern for the Environment

As much as you value productivity and efficiency, your clients may prioritize one feature even more: your social responsibility.

If your carbon footprint is important to you, realize the value of using multi-tenant systems on the cloud, rather than deploying your own system on site. The latter can increase your footprint by 95%.

Conclusion

No matter where your priorities and business focus lie, there are clear reasons for using a cloud ERP, rather than deploying it on site. We will say it again: Your future success depends on the decision you make today. The only question left to ask is: When will you join the cloud?

5 Steps to Successful ERP Implementation for Logistic Business

In any business, be it logistics or otherwise, efficiency is the answer to optimal productivity, which in turn results in increased profitability. ERP is proving to be a proactive method of achieving these exact goals in the up-and-coming enterprises of our current day and age. That being said, an ambitious business owner should want to implement this solution as an investment in the growth and effectiveness of their business.

This is a simple yet effective guideline to the implementation of ERP, specific to a logistic business. But first, let’s be clear on what this entails.

What is ERP

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. It really took flight in the late 1990’s during the Y2K scare and introduction of the euro. Businesses did away with their legacy systems and started using ERP. This system provides access to employees and partners by means of e-commerce technology.

ERP is an all-in-one business management solution that allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of your business from one easy source.

ERP systems include the following characteristics:

  • A united system
  • Operates in real time
  • An integrated database supporting all the applications
  • A consistent dashboard across the modules
  • Enablement of the system with intricate application or data integration by the IT department, provided the implementation is not done in compartmentalised sections.
  • Placement options include: in house, cloud hosted, or SaaS (software as a service)

How is this Applicable to the Logistics Industry?

As an industry that relies heavily on data capturing and management, an EPR system is perfectly suited to the nature of your business. Monitoring and logging information is important. This is what helps track and manage such a complex business model. Why would you not want to have the power to oversee your entire business from one single point? Benefits include the following:

  • Optimize inventory control
  • A personalized dashboard allowing for monitoring of orders, sales and distribution from one centralized point
  • Track previous sales trends to prepare for future efficiency
  • Accelerates distribution times by 23%
  • Realtime data analytics
  • Identify out-of-stock inventory, handle inbound orders from suppliers, and execute outbound orders
  • All features are accessible from a desktop or smartphone
  • Implementation and support from software vendors
  • Improves distribution
    • Improves distribution management of freight operators
    • Records datasets from multiple sources eg: in house records, internet, social media
    • Displays information through maps, charts and graphs
    • Streamlines delivery to customers using the data collected
    • Encourages communication between suppliers, distributors and retailers
    • Allows for live information to be delivered to drivers regarding traffic and delivery destinations.
    • Reduces operational and administrative costs by 23% and 22% respectively due to effective, real time communication
    • Personalized system to suit specific needs
  • Manages staff
    • Log employee hours
    • Track rest times of operators
    • Collect staff performance data
    • Maintain a steady stream of staff, distribute contracts, and schedule hours

Where to Start

Now that it is evident that ERP systems are not only extremely beneficial, but almost a necessity to your expanding logistics business, let’s look at the process of implementation.

Step 1

Choosing a Software Vendor

Find the right software vendor and personalized software to suit your specific business. This would be imperative to experience the full benefit of the system. As ERP is not a new concept in the market, it should not be difficult to find a vendor in your area. When shopping for the right system for your business, consider the following:

  • Recognize five key factors of the product you see most fit for your business
  • Identify the essential factors necessary for your business
  • Avoid outdated technology
  • Minimize risk in ways that satisfy your budget
  • Determine how your top choices stack up against similar systems

Step 2

Choosing the System That Suits You

ERP systems are applicable to several different industries. The ERP SD (sales and distribution) module would be best suited to a logistics business and consists of the following components:

  • Master data
  • Basic functions subdivided into multiple components, such as pricing and output, to name but a few
  • Sales
  • Shipping
  • Transportation
  • Localization
  • Foreign trade
  • Invoicing
  • Marketing support
  • Electronic data interchange
  • Sales and Logistics Information systems

Step 3

Staff Training

Any new system, policy or protocol implemented into a business requires training and support. Equipping staff with this knowledge will allow them to competently make full use of ERP. It is advisable for your business to provide as much training and support as possible.

Online training is available from certain software vendors. This online training proves to be comprehensive and conclusive enough to give your staff the tools they need to proficiently operate your ERP SD system.

Step 4

Day to Day Operation

As you must have realised by now, an ERP system is user friendly and comprehensive. It is important that management staff are well informed and active users of your new software. Even though support be available from your software vendor, it is a good idea to have an inhouse “expert”.

This person should oversee everyday operations to make sure that staff are using the system correctly and that all the necessary data is being used in the best way possible.

Step 5

Keeping Your ERP up to Date

Isn’t it scary how fast technology is developing these days? You get a new device today and by next month it is superseded by something bigger and better. Before you’ve even had the chance to experience the one you have to its full capacity, it is redundant. The same applies here. It would be most beneficial for you to keep up to date with updates and expansions of your ERP system. In this field, there are constantly new and better developments being released to make our lives and productivity that much more efficient. Don’t get left behind.