What is ERP Implementation? The 10 Process Stages You Need to Know!

Are you one of the many companies that’ll be implementing a new ERP software solution in the coming months? Enterprise Resource Planning—ERP as it’s often referred to—is a software solution that automates and integrates all your business processes into one user-friendly platform.

Essentially, implementing a new ERP system is the arduous process of changing all your companies’ business processes. ERP implementation requires strategic planning, testing, and eventually launching the software to become your central business model.

What is ERP Implementation?

ERP implementation can be defined as the process involving the installation of relevant ERP software as well as the migration of your company’s financial data to the new system. It also involves the training of appointed users and access configurations. Considering all the various deployment options of an ERP system is also dependent on successful testing.

Understanding the ERP Implementation Process

Once you have decided to convert your company’s current business model to include an ERP system, the next step on the agenda will be implementation. ERP implementation can be defined as the process that examines current practices and converts and improves these business processes to the new ERP software.

The processes that are covered by ERP implementation include the following:

  • Data migration as well as cleansing and removal of old redundant data
  • Change management through constant interacting with users
  • Testing of software and all related applications
  • Strategic planning of future maintenance of the new software
  • Training users on the various software functionalities

To get a more concise view of the actual ERP implementation methodology, I’ve summarised the process into 10 easy steps.

Step 1: Choosing the Right ERP Vendor

Purchasing an ERP software system is a large endeavor. Not only does it require a considerable amount of money, but it also consumes a lot of time, effort, and training. As far as your business is concerned, it’s an investment and should be treated as such. Currently, SAP and Sage are the second and third biggest ERP software suppliers respectively.

With this in mind, you might be asking yourself how you can guarantee that this investment into your company’s future pays the required dividends, both short-term and long-term. The simple answer is to ensure that you partner with the best ERP software installation expert in your specific industry.

But, with so many companies offering the same product how do you know which vendor will be the right one to select? Which vendor will offer you the most professional services? Here are a few factors to consider when selecting the ERP vendor that’s best suited to your business. This will prevent you from wasting time and resources.

Industry-Specific Knowledge

ERP software is not a “one-size-fits-all” purchase. Each industry has its own challenges and requirements to function at its optimum level. The first step is to ensure that the ERP supplier can provide an industry-specific software solution.

The software needs to match all your business requirements. It also needs to be written in a language that meets your business and customer needs. The closer the program is to what you need, the less money will be spent on customization. This will result in an easy implementation process.

Long-term Stability

It’s important to consider the track record of the vendor you’re considering. A vendor that’s well-established as an ERP provider will go a long way toward reassuring you of a successful implementation project.

This goes hand-in-hand with the vendor’s reputation in the industry. Do some research about their previous dealings and implementations. Make a note of having a conversation with at least two or three of their previous clients who had similar product implementation. Enquire about after-sales service, IT support, costing, and ability to deliver on promises.

ERP Implementation Procedures

An effective ERP supplier must have the skill and experience to deal with any pre and post-go-live issues. This means they need to provide you with project management best practices throughout the whole implementation process. Make sure to familiarize yourself with all terms and conditions offered by the vendor. It’s also possible to employ a third-party ERP consultant to assist with the process.

Step 2: Determine Your ERP Goals

ERP GoalsBefore any new system is acquired, it’s crucial to establish the business needs going forward. This is done by drawing up a list of goals that you require the new software to fulfill. Goals need to be realistic and should be possible to achieve during the various implementation processes.

Essentially, you need to ask yourself questions similar to the following:

  • Why does your company need the new technology?
  • Is this ERP software industry-specific and has it effectively been tested?
  • What target or results do you want the software to help you achieve?
  • What are your existing business processes and how do they differ from the new business processes?
  • What are the problems in your current system that you hope implementing a new ERP system will solve?
  • What is the implementation timeline and how will this affect your day-to-day operations? What effect will this have on your customers?
  • How long will training users take and have SMART goals been set regarding this time frame?

Step 3: Design User Interface to your Company’s PreferenceUser Experience

People who have used, purchased, or installed the Enterprise Resource Planning software have a lot of stories to tell about how good or bad the system is. However, not enough consideration is given to the design and user interface aspect of the system.

User interface refers to the way employees can access and use the system. Part of a successful ERP implementation relies on how well an employee understands the new ERP software. There are a few characteristics that define a user-friendly interface that’s specifically suited to your business needs.

Minimal Design

All commands and functionalities should be visible and easily accessible. It’s important to create a screen that’s clutter-free and structured. It’s important to use colors and fonts in a manner that simplifies the process.

User-friendly

An interface should also make it easy for users to navigate their way around the system without having to constantly refer back to training guides. Designing a user-friendly interface will motivate your employees to explore the system on their own and easily find solutions to the queries.

This type of design will also make employees more comfortable and confident in using the system. Once employees feel comfortable with the way the system works and their understanding of it, there will be fewer IT queries to deal with.

Responsiveness

Choosing a cloud-based ERP software platform allows you to access your system from anywhere if that’s what you prefer. Cloud EPR means your employees can log in using their tablets, smartphones, or laptops.

If this is an option you’d like to consider, ensure that your interface is compatible with different screen dimensions. Two of the most popular cloud-based ERP software programs are SAP Business One and SAGE ERP 300. It’s worth looking into if you’re running a small to a medium-sized start-up business.

As mentioned earlier, each business might require its own customized interface, customized to its specific business requirements.

Step 4: Development of ERP System

ERP software development assists organizations to better manage the resources available to them. The key aim of an ERP system is to integrate business processes as well as facilitate the general flow of information within your company.

Not all ERP systems are the same. However, there are a few crucial ERP features that are commonly found in most ERP software systems. Let’s have a look at these.

Integration

Integration is the key factor that sets an ERP system apart from other software types. An ERP software system is made up of a host of business applications built to easily work together. The integration allows these different applications to create a user-friendly platform.

A single ERP database can collect, analyze and store data across various departments which are commonly called business units on the ERP system. Streamlined databases are a more effective way for anyone using the system to access relevant information needed to provide the relevant levels of customer service.

Customer Relationship Management

Customer relationship management, or CRM as it’s referred to in the ERP industry, is software that has two beneficial advantages. Firstly, CRM systems are a perfect option for companies whose consumer base is too large to manage and control with mere spreadsheets.

Secondly, CRMs within an ERP system can centralize customer information which allows for quick access when performing functions on other parts of the system. An instance of this would be being able to access a customer’s address while processing shipping information.

Tracking and Visibility

Some experts regard the ERP solution’s ability to provide comprehensive visibility as the greatest feature. The most prominent example of this is what’s known as supply chain visibility. Many ERP solutions have the technology to track completed products from manufacture to final delivery.

Aside from tracking tangible objects, the inventory system and ERP system can also track required information, such as:

  • Sales
  • Product marketing
  • Staff productivity
  • Production statistics

Reporting

Reporting Dashboard ExampleERP can report required analysis to end-users. Tools to provide these reports are usually made up of the following:

  • Customizable dashboards for each department
  • Pie charts
  • Gantt charts
  • Bar graphs

It’s important to note that access is often restricted to the reporting functions. This is done to protect a company’s confidential information. The last thing you need is for your sales revenue figures to be shared with your competitors.

Data Analysis

Collecting and processing data through all your different business functions is already a primary ERP function. It makes sense then that an effective ERP system adds analysis to the mix. ERP can easily analyze all data pertaining to different business operations, production statistics, client data, sales data, and many other components.

This type of analysis gives you the necessary tools to increase general productivity. It can also provide you with future projections of product lines, sales figures, and estimated product revenues.

Step 5: Parallel Implementation

A key step in your ERP implementation process is what’s commonly called parallel implementation. This is a phasing strategy that many organizations are opting for. It encompasses operating the new ERP system as well as the existing system simultaneously.

Typically, users train and practice on the new system which isn’t live, but active for training purposes. They then continue to work on the old system to ensure there is no disruption of the daily business operations. This is particularly useful in a manufacturing company where order processing won’t be interrupted.

Customer interactions and transactions are not compromised while the staff is learning the ins-and-outs of the new system. End-user training is not too rushed and employees have relevant time to learn all the new ERP activities. ERP project team leaders agree that this is the least risky strategy.

Step 6: Phased Rollout

A phased rollout simply allows your new ERP software system to evolve over some time. This means that implementation is broken down into smaller sections. A phased rollout allows users to easily and gradually adjust to the new ERP system.

There are generally six phases of an ERP implementation plan which are listed below:

  • Discovery and creating a project plan
  • Design
  • Development
  • System testing
  • Deployment
  • Ongoing IT and system customer support

Opting for a passed rollout process is particularly effective in a production environment. This allows for production processes to continue uninterrupted.

Step 7: Training for your Staff

Online Learning for StaffThe success of any new ERP system largely depends on the training and engagement of the staff that is going to use it. These staff members are commonly referred to as the end-users. They’re the employees who’ll use the system to deal directly with the company’s customers.

Changing technology and introducing new software can be very daunting to some employees. This is especially true in cases where particular employees have been using the “old” or “current” system for several years. To get your employees engaged with the new system, it’s important to follow these expert tips:

  • Request training guides from your ERP development partners for each new stage of the process. These guides should be in the form of modular training that each employee needs to complete.
  • Create a sense of urgency among staff from the start. Explain the importance of meeting deadlines with modular training. Encourage them to be interested and enthusiastic about the training. User acceptance is key to implementation success.
  • Motivate your employees by showing them how the system will benefit their particular job functions. For instance, does the new system streamline their admin duties? Does it enable them to assist customers more efficiently?
  • During each phase of the training, make use of training videos and other visual aids. Ensure there is actual interaction with the system in a training environment.
  • Create teams in which you partner stronger employees with colleagues who may be finding it difficult to keep up. Create a buddy system where team members can teach and guide each other.
  • If necessary, make use of a professional with experience in adult learning in the workplace.

To give you some insight into one of many training videos you could use to introduce your employees to your chosen ERP system, watch the clip below;

 

Step 8: Testing the ERP System

The importance of a comprehensive and efficient test run before your ERP system goes live is vital. Whether you’re running a multi-million dollar corporation or a small start-up, ERP experts recommend that testing the full capacity of the system is part of a successful implementation.

The main reasons for ERP implementation failure can easily be chalked down to five factors:

  • ERP software is not tested before going live.
  • The testing is done by employees and not by ERP experts who are part of the ERP project team.
  • Testing is done badly, hurriedly or not in totality due to time constraints or budget restrictions.
  • Staff is not trained properly, or training of key employees is not finalized before the go-live date.
  • The ERP system hasn’t been suitably customized to your particular business needs.

Step 9: Deployment of ERP into Your Company Process

The last step of your company’s ERP system implementation is known as the “go-live” process. This is done when hardware and software have been installed and incorporated. Staff should be fully trained and assessed by this time.

Your project manager and implementation team should have prepared for every possible scenario and have the tools available to deal with each problem. Going live is a very hectic and stressful process so everyone needs to be ready and prepared.

The most effective way to proceed through this phase effectively is to draw up a checklist that includes all departments. Your project manager or your implementation partner may already have a general checklist in place. Ensure that it covers every aspect of your particular scenario.

The most important factors that should be on your checklist include the following:

  • Has all the hardware required for business operations been installed, tested and synchronized?
  • Have all the necessary business reports been tested and printed? Analyze all data in the report and verify accuracy. Ensure there are no glitches.
  • All accounting and financial reports should also be tested and information verified.
  • Ensure that your Email Client has been thoroughly synchronized with your ERP software.
  • Ensure all end users have access to the system required for their particular job title. Make sure each user has an individual password that grants them access to the functions and reports they need to work effectively.
  • Confirm that data migration has been done and is 100% accurate. Compare it to data from the old system or reports that were printed off of the outgoing system.
  • Ensure that backup measures are in place. Each team member should know the channel of command to follow in the event of any hardware or software malfunction.

Generally, the implementation life cycle of an ERP system from project planning to go-live ranges from 6 to 12 months. To better understand the process changes that take place in the life cycle of an ERP system, you might find the below clip useful.

 

Step 10: Support & Updates

To avoid ERP implementation problems, every project manager needs to ensure that adequate IT support is in place and available on-premises. The success of your post-go-live environment will depend on having the right technical supports on hand to deal with each issue as it arises.

Expert tips for maintaining a secure and updated ERP system include the following:

  • Keep your ERP software updated: This keeps the system free of viruses and prevents breaches that can compromise software security.
  • Keep users regularly updated: Inform active users of security and system changes. Constantly update passwords and ensure only authorized personnel has access to the system.
  • Arrange for regular backup and data storage: Regular maintenance of the system’s backup points will ensure the system is protected from security risks.
  • Separate duties: Split daily duties and functions so that employees can anticipate potential threats to the system.
  • Review the security options offered by the ERP system: If you don’t have your own security protocols in place consider the options offered by the ERP software. Ensure that these protocols protect your data and functionalities from hackers. Putting the correct security measures in place and keeping them updated will go a long way towards protecting your customer’s data and keeping it secure. This applies to your confidential company information such as financial ledgers, designs, and marketing strategies as well.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to ERP software, a positive and well-planned implementation approach is crucial to the success of the whole ERP project. Take the time to follow through with each expert tip we’ve offered and ensure constant liaison with your software provider.

ERP implementation is by far the biggest IT project most companies will ever experience. This will ensure your ERP use goes down smoothly and benefits you in the long run!

Enterprise Resource Planning

What is ERP? (An In-Depth Guide)

How Was ERP Created?

ERP is a term that has been around since the early to late 1990s. Throughout the years this business solution has adapted and progressed to provide actionable business solutions for small to medium business owners and large corporations alike. There has been a steady progression of the evolution of ERP systems, which stands for Enterprise Resource Planning.

Diving Deeper Into the 1990s

Business industry analysts created the term ERP to describe a new concept in business planning services that entails the integration of information for company transactions to be turned into actionable tasks throughout all the departments within an organization.

This system allowed for multiple departments, or all departments of a business to gain access to transactional information in a format that was relevant to their corresponding departments. For example, if one department recorded a transaction, this information would create a workflow or task for the department handling the next step in fulfilling a sale for a transaction.

Towards the tail end of the ’90s, another system was introduced and quickly gained popularity called a CRM. CRM solutions, also known as “customer relationship management” solutions, were centered around the beginning steps of a sale. This system mainly used by sales departments was an interactive tool that would assist in the documentation of relevant customer information related to potential future transactions.

Sales representatives would track updates on each customer going through the sales process from creating quotes, initiating contracts, and would include exclusive details such as products and pricing. The CRM became a partner to the ERP system. Businesses would use these two systems simultaneously to track the creation and management of key business data.

However, there was one setback, which involved the labor-intensive need to create reports from each system to analyze the business’ overall transactional information from pre-sale to close.

From this point, there was a new need for data warehouses that would take on the sole task of compiling all the data a business amassed each business day, and then generate reports consistently to business owners the following day.

The 2000’s

Fast forward to the early 2000s when again, there was another shift in how ERP was being used and improved. There were two main changes during this time that differentiated the ERP process from its conception and use in the late 1990s.

The first main change was that hardware increased in processing power at a lower cost to the business. And secondly, data integration tools became more advanced in that they allowed for re-usable data integration from one application to another.

This progression in ERP systems during this time resulted in a few milestones. Supply chain data became information that was able to be gathered, displayed, and analyzed simultaneously. ERP vendors were able to double down and hit the ground running with new improvements much faster due to overwhelming acquisitions throughout these years.

Every business owner and organization felt the need to have an ERP integrated into their business model as it showed highly valuable information with less effort than ever before. And finally, this also meant the code used to integrate this system became fully reusable.

Looking Ahead

So, now we know where ERP systems began and why creating this capability for small to medium business owners and larger corporations alike was so highly sought after. This would reduce the time it took to gather key business data that directly reflected how a business was performing saleswise.

While the core functions are still relevant to the ERP systems used today, it is interesting to take a look back to see how ERP began and progressed from the 1990’s to 2000’s. The ability to for ERP software to then become integrate with other business programs like the CRM (customer relationship management) for example, was a milestone in and of itself, but also a stepping stone towards the ability for ERP’s to partner up and work with programs out there.

From providing information on sales, transactions, products, and fulfillment what can we expect to improve a model that seems to have it all figured out? Looking ahead to the massive changes that have happened since the early 2000s will give us a better idea of how remarkable technological advancements can truly be in such a relatively short period of time.

How can the delivery of key business data be improved? What will come after the milestones already reached by this method? Will tasks triggered by the ERP model continue to be worked on by employees or will artificial intelligence come into play? The following paragraphs will go over ERP systems today and how information technology has carved out an even more impressive path to business solutions for business owners.

Changes Happening Today

While we have reviewed how ERP software began with a general overview of how they function. There are additional more technical business functions to go over to give us even more insight on understanding ERP, and how progressions since the early 2000s will be different today.

There will always be, however, solid core business processes supported by ERP software that will remain intact. This includes the tracking of the sales process from the initial order date through to fulfillment and finally receiving payment. This is a given, and will not change.

Another core business function of ERP systems that will transcend time is tracking the availability or inventory of a product and that initial vendors have also distributed payment for their products or services. And finally, ensuring the financial process of a business is recorded in order to generate reports for business owners to analyze data.

Today ERP implementation is incorporating artificial intelligence and automation technologies to assist in the assembly of ERP operations. Cloud ERP implementation has also started in order to create a more sustainable host for all the data flowing from the ERP business processes. This in turn reduces the cost of the constant hardware upgrades and maintenance that were previously required and viewed as a new technology advancement not so long ago.

Industry verticals are becoming more uniform in the way their sales processes are handled. This is because the introduction of highly automated online sales systems has steadily increased in demand by consumers. Potential customers seek to find the easiest, fastest, and least time-consuming alternatives to purchasing goods and services, the internet has allowed for this new wave of sales to happen.

The ERP business process has naturally welcomed this change as it ties in seamlessly to how an ERP system functions. Automation advancements have greatly improved to give consumers the efficiency they are looking for in the buyer process. While this is a great turn in the improvement of technology, there are changes beginning to happen when it comes to certain roles held by employees being replaced with robotics software analytics, for example, chatbots on Facebook, other social media platforms, and business websites.

The more readily available information is for a potential customer, the more likely they are to purchase an item faster. This means tools like chatbots that run through the sales process automatically depending on where the potential customer has landed, have become an increasingly valuable and lower-cost tool than hiring an employee to provide this service.

In addition to this, artificial intelligence, or commonly referred to as AI, will allow for data to analyse at a much more rapid pace than before. Predictive analytics is also a function that AI can produce within little to no time lost. The roles held by analysts previous to AI, who would work on the analysis of key business data are becoming less so as we continue down this path.

Now let’s take a look at the key factors that drive ERP from 2016 to 2019. Initially, in 2016 a driving change in the traditional ERP method was to replace legacy systems, improve business performance, and ensure overall compliance. In 2017, improving business performance was at the top of the list.

As we previously mentioned, faster processes directly reflect a quicker sale. This leads to the second most important factor of ERP in 2017, which was to simplify employee tasks triggered by the ERP process. The quicker an employee can complete a task by automating as much of the sales and fulfillment process is ideal in having a smoothly functioning well-oiled machine.

The ability to integrate multiple systems into the ERP model was also a driving force in the progression of this model today.

What are financial professionals working on now? Firstly financial professionals have begun evaluating new trends that show great promise and high potential success rates in effectively strengthening ERP business solutions.

A major trend is using the cloud. Most ERP providers are hosted within the cloud, and unfortunately, systems that do not conform to this trend, which seems to now be the status quo, will not be able to keep up with the demands in this field. The cloud ERP provides a host of new features like blockchain, AI, Machine learning, intelligent process automation, and IoT.

New capabilities are constantly being worked on for the future success of ERP to reduce errors and increase efficiency exponentially.

How Do You Know if You need an ERP Solution?

If you are a small to medium business owner you might be at the cusp of thinking about implementing ERP software into your business. When you started your business you might not have needed too many programs to keep your operations obligations in working order.

You might have felt like you had everything under control from the beginning of your sales process to fulfillment, and this is common amongst most small to medium business owners. However, if your business has continued to grow, and say you have added a list of new products and services that you did not have before, you might start to find certain areas of your overall business operations becoming cumbersome and downright clunky.

If you are starting to sense that your overall business processes as a whole are no longer running smoothly as they once did, you might want to consider an ERP solution for your business. How can you tell if you need to begin your journey in this new direction?

The telltale sign that you might need to make some changes to your business operations process is if you are using multiple software and programs that do not integrate well together, if at all, and have gaps in coverage of the information.

You might sense that the programs you are using feel like a juggling act where you are not always quite sure how to procure reports that make sense in order to analyze your key business data. Or the programs you are using are completely disconnected and disorganized!

This is a huge pain factor for business owners who are successfully growing their business, and if you think this sounds familiar, you are not alone! This is exactly why the ERP solution was created in the first place!

Another telltale sign is if you are constantly unsure of your total inventory after a holiday rush or a busy month. It might take you hours to run all your checks and balances to determine what your final inventory numbers are, and even then you might still feel uncertain if you have made a mistake.

The most dangerous aspect of running a business without an ERP solution is if a customer purchases a product, and it turns out you do not actually have the product in stock!

Customer demands are at a level where if an efficient system is not set in place, a potential customer can tell and might be discouraged in continuing business with you. It’s important to keep this in mind when considering if it is time for you to switch to an ERP implementation solution for your organization.

Do not feel discouraged as this does not mean you are doing badly, it simply means that your systems work for you! Rather than using twenty different platforms, it is okay to consider a better system that will help you decrease your workload when it comes to keeping the checks and balances of your business.

Why not have an easier way to see final numbers in real-time and have the ability to access easy and fast reporting methods to relay information to your employees. Increasing the visibility of your operations takes the guesswork out of what is coming into the business and what is going out.

ERP software also gives you the capability to automate and auto-populate almost any aspect of your operations. This allows you to avoid the need to enter each piece of information into a spreadsheet where you are not able to transfer data from one place to another easily. Managing spreadsheets like this takes hundreds of man-hours, and can ultimately hinder the success of your business.

Modern ERP also includes an application programming interface. This interface is what allows you to directly speak with your customers via phone or email and provide a paper trail of any information passed back and forth from the business to the customer. You can also view the analytics of the sales of your business, how certain products are performing, and so forth.

You can even connect your bank details to this system so you can provide payment to your vendors with the click of a button. Billing, invoicing and
inventory management all make up your ERP solution. All this information ebbing and flowing from one central hub is how you can manage to get back your time.

Your company’s metrics will completely transform to work for you, not the other way around. These key business metrics will also give you the insight you need to know where, how, and what products to market and to which audiences.

You will have all the information you need on audience demographics when customers are purchasing your products throughout the day or even throughout the year. You will be able to see clear as day which products are performing and selling best, or even which products are performing best during certain times of the year.

This is invaluable in understanding when to market certain products. You will feel certain of which products require marketing campaigns and your paid advertisements won’t be done blind with guesswork. Your paid ads will have purpose and hardcore data to back up why you will be willing to spend more on advertising certain products throughout the year.

Additionally, you will be able to easily discern a clear budget for your marketing campaigns or any other aspect of the operations of your business. This is virtually a seamless, no-hassle way to make quick decisions about the direction of your business in a way that is fully intentional and informed.

Benefits of ERP

So, what is ERP? We have crossed over a great amount of information from the inception of the ERP to now, so in short, ERP in 2019 is now known as this:

ERP allows for your business to manage and integrate financials, supply chain, operations, manufacturing, reporting, and human resource activities throughout businesses. ERP providers today commonly offer clients the upkeep of new changes innovation. The most prominent changes in innovation today are the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, IoT, and much more!

This promise sets ERP companies apart from business owners who understand that technological advances are happening fast, and rather than having to switch to a more technologically in tune ERP company down the line, they will inevitably search for the ERP solution providers that give them the best possible services in the digital age.

If you are at the stage where you are searching for an ERP provider to partner with, keep a few things in mind to reduce your chances of choosing a company with a higher rate of failure in the future. Choose a company that is focused on new trends like organizational change management.

System providers are in the age now where new directives are becoming more prominent. Many providers are seeing organizational change management as a top performance variable in providing great ERP services. Research any recent technological deficiencies and failures an ERP solutions company might have had due to lack of movement in the digital age.

While an ERP claims to integrate all the vital aspects of your operations in one central hub, not every ERP provider can do actually execute this well. You should make sure to ask potential ERP providers that you are considering partnering with, on which capabilities they are performing best in.

You might choose to go with an ERP software that ticks 9 out of your 10 boxes rather than going with an ERP system that ticks all 10 boxes with a lower quality performance. Your business deserves the best, but with so much softwares out there to choose from in the digital age, it can be a risk to move all your business data to a platform that will not give you the particular results that are of utmost importance in your particular industry.

Keep this in mind when searching for solutions for your business operations, and always ask questions on deficiencies a provider might have had in the past in addition to their best performance aspects. The more you know the less likely you are to find yourself paying for a service that does not actually serve you.

While the best-of-breed model was thought to once go obsolete, it has increased in popularity recently because customization to each unique business has increased. There are so many more types of businesses and products available now than there were in the 1990s, and this is why choosing a provider that can provide as much coverage for you as possible might be a better option for you.

Adapting to change is a requirement within the ERP design. Shorter processing times for project delivery are happening in real-time and the excitement to see what will become of ERP next is anticipated to be both exciting and maybe even unsettling to some.

We hope you have found this in-depth guide to ERP software, ERP implementation, and ERP vendors useful in determining the best fit for your small to medium business or corporate organization. Overall an ERP will always be a great option for any business owner in any vertical as regardless of your industry you will always deal with countless moving factors in order to run your business successfully. ERP implementation is highly valuable because saving time is the most valuable factor of all.

What is CRM? A Simple Detailed Guide

One of the biggest things that people wonder is: What is CRM? They may have heard of it, but aren’t really sure what it means or why it’s important. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. Many companies decide to use these types of systems because it makes keeping customer data secure and organized. It can also help improve customer satisfaction and customer experience.

Since customers are the thing that keeps a business going, it’s crucial to manage customer information. Losing or letting this information be stolen can lead to catastrophic consequences. There have even been times when a business goes out of business because they couldn’t keep this information where it needed to be.

One of the best things about this kind of system is that any information relating to the customers can easily be updated. This means if there’s something like a new interaction or new contact information, it can all be added with just a push of a button. This can keep everyone on the same page and prevent people from referring to old data.

If you aren’t really sure what the benefits of a CRM is or why it’s so important, keep reading to get some good information on these systems. You might be surprised how much they can benefit your company and you might realize that things could be done a lot easier!

What is CRM (Customer Relationship Management)?

CRM is used to manage customer contacts and customer data. Basically, a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is somewhere where you can keep all of these things organized. Since everything is kept in one place, you can easily find what you’re looking for and record any new data or interactions you have with customers.

It can also be used to share data with other employees, such as sales teams or people working on marketing campaigns. Not only will this make it much easier for everyone to find what they need, but it will save time because you won’t be spending all day on the phone trying to give others the information they’re looking for.

It can also help people pay attention to customers and make sure that big accounts or opportunities aren’t missed or lost. This is especially true for companies that have hundreds of interactions with their customers per day. When there’s that much traffic, it’s easy to lost important information in the hustle and bustle! A CRM stops that from happening.

All-in-all, a CRM is there to help you have a better relationship with your customers. In this day and age, it can be hard to connect with people and you want to have the best connection you can. Not only will this make your customers feel wanted, but it will also give you an edge over the competition.

Who Should Use CRM Systems?

While a CRM system could be beneficial to pretty much any company, the ones that deal with hundreds of customers should definitely be using this type of software. Since this amount of leads can be lost in the chaos, you want to make sure you have a way to keep all data and interactions recorded. The last thing you want is to lose out on leads because you don’t have immediate access to their information.

If you feel like you’re losing sales because of unorganized information, want to keep all interactions with customers in one easy to access place or want to track your sales and leads, then a CRM might be right for your business. While it will cost some money to get started, you’ll be able to see how your business does with the system.

Keep in mind, a CRM doesn’t work for you, you can always cancel your subscription and stop using it. You could also choose to use a different CRM to see if you get better results. It might not seem like a big deal, but different systems will have different features and some will be much easier to use than others.

You really don’t have anything to lose. It’s either going to really help your business grow or it’s going to be something that isn’t really that beneficial. In the big scheme of things, paying to try a CRM for a few months isn’t really going to be a deal-breaker!

What Does CRM Mean in Business?

When it comes to a business, the relationship with customers should be one of the highest things on the importance list. While some companies don’t think it’s a big deal, customers are what make your business. To be honest, no customers means no business and you could face some pretty bad consequences.

In order to keep a business running smoothly and the way it needs to, everything needs to be organized and kept in one place. Not only will a CRM allow you to record all interactions you have with customers, but you’ll also be able to record all of their contact information and any other important details you have about them.

customer data

When people call or contact a business, they don’t want to wait forever for the company to get their information up. They also don’t want to have to go over every past interaction they’ve done. This is especially true for those customers who are contacting the company multiple times for the same thing. By using a CRM, the person at your company can bring up the customer’s info with a few button pushes. They’ll be able to get right to it and jump right into helping the customer.

The last thing a business wants is the reputation of not being able to keep their customer’s information secure or not being able to have positive interactions. Many people will tell others about their experiences, so a few bad experiences could end up losing you more than just one or two customers! You want to be on the top of your game every time!

 

Important CRM Stats for Businesses

a. CRM has been known to increase sales by up to 29%, productivity by 34%, and forecast accuracy by 42%.

b. Businesses with CRM improved their sales leads by 44%, 45% increase in customer retention, and 52% increase in integrating with other business apps.

c. 65% of sales professionals adopted mobile CRM, were able to reach their sales quotas.

d. Sales representatives can reduce lead costs by 23% using CRM.

e. CRM can boost conversion rates by 300%.

f. 74% of users believe that CRM software enhanced their access to customer data.

g. 47% of CRM users claimed that CRM greatly improved their customer retention rates.

h. Data accessibility is capable of shortening the sales cycle by 8–14% on average.

i) 65% of companies who use mobile CRM achieved their sales quotas, whereas only 22% of companies without mobile CRM achieved their sales quotas.

j) 87% of the companies that use cloud-based CRM, 13% are using on-premise CRM.

k) 91% of businesses with over 11 employees use CRM, compared to 50% of those with 10 employees or less.

Source from;

https://financesonline.com/crm-statistics-analysis-of-trends-data-and-market-share/

– https://www.superoffice.com/blog/crm-software-statistics/

 

How to Use CRM for Marketing Strategy

Marketing campaigns can be huge for a company. This is a great way to generate more leads and get more customers. This is even more true for those companies that are just starting out or ones that have kind of hit a plateau. The more customers and sales you can get, the better your company is going to do.

To use a CRM for marketing campaigns, all you have to do is look for customers or leads that related to the thing you’re trying to promote. For example, if you’re trying to promote some of your products, you can look in your CRM for customers or leads that are related to the specific products.

Once you find the people you’re looking for, you can use the contact information listed in the CRM to reach out to them. You can talk to them and see if they’d be willing to advertise on their platforms. Not only can this get you more sales, but you might get more leads. More leads can lead to you being able to advertise even more. All-in-all these campaigns can really help your business grow and prosper!

It might not seem like a big deal to do these types of campaigns, but you can’t get more customers without people knowing about you. Even if you’re getting more customers through word of mouth or referrals, you want to try and expand to as many areas as possible to bring in as many customers as you can.

2 Types of CRM System

The 2 main types of business CRM systems are cloud-based CRM (aka mobile CRM) and on-premises CRM. Both of these business CRM systems can be extremely helpful and they can both be used pretty interchangeably. Most of the time, all of the information will be available on both types of systems. Keep reading to learn more about each type of system.

Cloud-Based CRM

Cloud Based CRMIn short, a cloud-based CRM or mobile CRM is any type of CRM system that’s kept on a cloud and delivered to people through the internet. This means that all information pertaining to the customer, including interactions and information, are stored in the cloud.

The good thing about this type of CRM is that the person needs to have certain information to access the data. This can either be a login or some kind of link that is sent out. Regardless of the method, these tend to be very secure since it can only be accessed a few ways.

On-Premise CRM

On Premise CRMAn on-premise CRM is one that is hosted right on the company’s personal server. This means that anyone who doesn’t have access to the actual server can’t see any of the information that’s stored in the CRM.

This is also pretty secure, but there’s a chance that a good hacker can hack right into the server. This is a huge liability because you really don’t want any of this information stolen or destroyed. If that happens, the news can get out pretty quickly and you can easily lose potential or existing customers!

Some companies even choose to use both kinds of systems. Not only will this let all employees, including remote workers, have access to customer information, but it will also allow your company to have a backup of the information if something happens. You’ll have to look at prices and features to see if this is something that will be beneficial to your company.

Does my business needs CRM?

Before deciding whether or not your business needs CRM solutions, you need to answer a few questions. These questions will give you a pretty good idea on whether or not the software will benefit you. Remember the C and R stands for customer relationship, which is one of the most important parts of a business. Take a look at the questions and answer below to help guide you through your decision.


1. Is My Company Ready for CRM Systems?

The biggest question most companies have is whether or not their companies are actually ready for this type of system. The good news is that there are a few things that will let you know if your company is ready. If you have the things listed below, then chances are that your company could benefit from this software.

  • A lot of customer data.
  • The need for managing customer information.
  • The need to improve customer satisfaction.
  • The desire to improve the customer experience.
  • The desire to improve customer relationships.
  • The desire to improve customer interactions.
  • The desire to improve existing customer contacts
  • Helping improve customer encounters and bringing in potential customers.
  • The need to improve sales and marketing.
  • The need to improve management systems.

Even if you only answered yes to a few of these questions, you should still consider using a CRM. It’s a great option for most businesses and you don’t have to worry about features you can’t use or ones that aren’t beneficial because most CRM companies offer many different tiers and prices. You can just look and see which one meets your needs the best.


2. Which CRM Features are Necessities?

With the CRM tool, there are some CRM features that are much more needed than others. These features are ones that are going to help the entire process go much easier and keep all the information for your customers in one place. Looking at the various CRM solutions will show you that each one has different features, but many are the same. Some of the most important features are listed below.

  • Good customer support.
  • Contact management and lead management.
  • Easy sales process.
  • Better sales team management.
  • Easier sales and marketing process.
  • Easy way to make essential phone calls.
  • Easier marketing campaigns.

If you aren’t really sure about which features you need, you should do as much research as possible. This will give you the best heads up for when you do finally get the software. Not only do you not want to be stuck with features you don’t need, but you don’t want to be stuck with ones you don’t know how to use.


3. What is my CRM Software Data Structure?

If you or your business isn’t in the technology field, then there’s a high chance you’ve never heard of data structure and you aren’t really sure what it is. In short, your data structure is going to be the way you group your information. This counts for potential customers and managing customer data for the existing customer you already have.

Remember the C and R stands for Customer Relationship, which is something you want to be at the top of your importance list. For the most part, your data structure should follow the same structure as listed below.

  • Set up contact information for every CRM customer.
  • Link CRM customer contacts to their respective organizations.
  • Tag the correct organizations for each customer.
  • For each contact, use a tagging structure for their personal information.
  • Arrange pipelines and follow opportunities.

While you can add any additional parts you want, you should have at least the structure listed above. Removing anything can make things not go as smoothly as they can and you might be missing out on a lot of information and leads!


4. How Can I Transfer Existing Data?

Since customer experience, customer satisfaction and customer relationships are high on the importance list, the last thing you want to do is accidentally lose any of their data. This means it’s extremely important to transfer all of the necessary data. Not only will this keep customers happy, but it will also improve customer encounters.

The good news is that a CRM tool usually has a ton of options for importing data. This means that you can get all the important data imported with just a push of a button. You won’t have to manually enter anything because the management software will do that for you. If you still aren’t sure how to do this with the management systems you chose, there should be a help or tutorial button to help you.

If you can’t find these buttons, you might need to call the software company’s service desk. They should be able to walk you through the steps you need in order to do what you need to. They might also be able to give you some additional information on tutorials that will help you.


5. What Integrations are Needed for CRM Solutions?

Integrations are an essential part of management software. This is mainly because so many businesses use 3rd party companies to help everything run the way it needs to. The great news is that these types of systems can help you get rid of the countless apps you use by putting everything together. Some of the things that you’ll need to integrate are listed below.

  • Combining all customer interactions into interaction histories.
  • Transfer all quotes or proposals.
  • Start using outside archives for documents.
  • Sending out new leads to all email systems.
  • Copy any events or tasks to smartphone calendars.

Just like the data structure, you can add more steps to your integration. The important things are that everything is transferred over and you don’t miss any important information. As long as you have everything you need, you shouldn’t have to worry about anything.


6. Who Needs Access to CRM Systems?

Since CRM has things that could be considered confidential, you need to make sure that anyone that sees the information will keep in under wraps. With that said, though, it’s a good idea to have the system available for anyone who might need it. This includes members of the sales team! If it’s easier, have people log in with personal credentials, so access records can be kept. Some of the people that need to be able to access these systems are listed below.

  • Anyone working with the company for marketing campaigns.
  • Sales teams
  • Contact management members
  • Any person working with customer service or customer support. This includes people doing phone calls and working the sales process.

For the most part, you want to have this system available to as many people at your company as possible. With that said, though, try not to give this information to many people outside of the company just because that can lead to a leak of info.


7. Who Will “Own” the CRM Systems?

Since so many people will have access to the system, things can get pretty crazy. While you could use personal credentials to keep track of logins, there’s a chance that things might still get hectic. Since this is the case, there needs to be an “owner” of the system. This person will be responsible for the system, including whether it succeeds or fails! When looking for the perfect person for this, they should also be able to do well in the areas listed below.

  • Implementation: They should be able to easily get things up and running.
  • Policies and Procedures: They should be able to understand and follow any procedures or policies for the system.
  • System Policing: They need to be able to monitor things and bring consequences to those that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do.
  • Security: They need to be able to keep everything secure and prevent any information from leaking or being destroyed.

If need be, try looking at current employees’ past work performance or hold interviews for them. If you can’t find a suitable person that already works for your company, you might need to hold interviews to bring someone in. If you go this route, make sure that person signs paperwork that will prevent them from leaking any customer information.


8. Do I Need a CRM Software Consultant?

For the most part, there are 3 different types of consultants you can hire. These are CRM experts, IT consultants, and sales process consultants. Whether you need one or not is going to be up to you, but you should consider it if you’ve never used a CRM system before. You should also consider using one of the systems is really complicated or hard to navigate.

If you do decide you need a consultant, you want to make sure you hire the correct one. Make sure you hold interviews and have them show you some past work or how they do in action. You don’t want to hire someone, then find out that they really aren’t good at their job!


9. What Will the CRM Systems Cost?

The exact cost is going to differ from place to place, but there’s going to be fees regardless. Most places will give you an outright quote, but some will make you do all kinds of stuff just to get it. Some of the things you can expect to be included with the cost are listed below.

  • Fees for a consultant.
  • Costs associated with training.
  • Subscriptions for 3rd party integration.
  • Opportunity costs

Keep in mind, some systems might have other fees that are unique to their company or business. The best way to find out is to ask the company questions and see what works best for you. Another thing to remember is that there might be some fees that aren’t immediately talked about upfront. It’s always a good idea to ask and get this information so there aren’t any surprises.


10. Will the CRM Software Meet My Future Needs?

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you want a CRM that’s going to meet your needs for a long time. With that being the case, don’t choose a system that only looks good for your present circumstances. Looking into the future will help you save money and time. Look and see if the system you’re considering has options that can grow with you, instead of options that are good just for the here and now.

If you aren’t really sure, you can always try and ask these questions to the company. Make sure to ask questions that can’t have biased answers because many companies will say what they need to in order to make a sale!


11. How Will I Measure ROI for the CRM Software?

ROI is extremely important for any business. You want to make sure your business is growing and the CRM system you chose is working well for your company. You can measure ROI by looking at the past information to see how it’s going.

Remember, while it’s important to make money in your business, you also want to make sure that the customer experience and customer satisfaction is high on the list. After all, no customers mean no business! The happier the customers are, the more business you’re going to get!

How to Select Right Vendor for your Business ERP Implementation

These days, when you are looking to get the right vendor that can implement your business ERP without any problem whatsoever there are always a few things that need to be taken into careful consideration. It is important that the vendor you are selecting is capable of providing the solutions to all your problems. They should be able to provide goal and customer-orientation sessions and thus make the experience more important for you all. It is well-nigh important that you are always constantly updated by the vendor you are working with so that proper value addition takes place in the transaction between you both.

It is very important that the company you are working with values your satisfaction more than anything else. After all, you are putting your hard-earned money over there and it is just right that you ask for the requisite rewards in terms of performance and quality. Good companies are ones who always look to help you achieve the goals you have set for yourself. The prices are an important indicator of their quality. They should not be more than what you can afford at the present stage and they should not be too less than what you are looking to pay. The price needs to be right.

It is also important that the company you are dealing with is able to deliver your product or service at the right time. Quality is an issue of conjecture and one can always make things better with proper discussion. However, if it is delivered on the right time then it is helpful in more ways than one can imagine. To start with, you do not need to waste time waiting for the service to arrive and as they say! If you have planned your project properly, with timely delivery you are able to take a good look and suggest improvement or just give the green signal for it to be implemented.

You need to remember that a good company never compromises on the standard of product/service being delivered. So, before you avail a vendor as such you should be careful in checking how well the unit works. You can crosscheck with others of your ilk that have worked with the same vendor before and get a proper idea before you sign on the dotted line. Yet another way to identify a good vendor is to see how intent it is on building a long-term working relationship with you.

Companies, which are worth the while, will always look to create a situation where it would prefer a long and fruitful association and its level of service will match such aims. It will never do bad work lest its deal with you is cancelled.

Do contact us for more ERP related questions.

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