Frequently Asked Questions: ERP / CRM
CRM at its simplest is systems and processes for managing a company’s interactions with current and potential customers.
Where CRM manages the customer, ERP is used to manage the business. ERP is a system for improving the efficiency of business processes.
ERP stands for enterprise resource planning. It’s heavy duty software that touches every aspect of operations. You can purchase a single suite or build your own out of different modules from a variety of vendors. ERP Software commonly features:
Accounting: manage financial transactions and payroll
Business Intelligence: analyze and report data to help companies make evidence-based decisions
CRM (more on this below)
Human Resources: manage personnel, benefits administration, employee evaluations, and learning management
Inventory: provides up-to-date information on product supply
Manufacturing: at the core of ERP
Supply Chain: tracks goods as they move from manufacturing to distribution
CRM stands for customer relationship management, and it’s used by sales, marketing and business development departments to manage interactions throughout the customer life cycle. CRM Software typically includes:
Marketing Integration: lead management, email marketing, and campaign management
Sales Force Automation: contact management, pipeline analysis, sales forecasting, and more
Customer Service & Support: ticketing, knowledge management systems, self-service, and live chat
Field Service Management: scheduling, dispatching, invoicing, and more
Call Center Automation: call routing, monitoring, CTI, and IVR
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) provides a software framework for managing a company’s resources, orders, or other throughput requirements. ERP systems normally come with a preset number of capabilities and rules. It is business process management software, which is a system of integrated applications to manage the business and automate many back office functions related to technology, services and human resources.
ERP software typically integrates all facets of an operation — including product planning, development, manufacturing, sales and marketing — in a single database, application and user interface
All companies use ERP. Nowadays when someone hears about ERP, he thinks of it as a software solution, desktop or cloud solutions. However, Enterprise Resource Planning System is a concept of storing all company’s data in one place. It’s a tool that helps businesses see and analyze the efficiency of usage of resources available inside and outside the company. And within this definition, anything can be an ERP, even pen-&-paper or Excel file, anything.
There is wide range of ERP’s, CRM’s, BPM’s on Markets worldwide, Every single business can find at least one ready to use solution that fits all requirements, or use customization services of that provider. Small companies can start with Open Source and low-cost solutions, while Middle and Large companies can use on-premises SaaS (Cloud) and/or desktop solutions.
Requirements from company to company differ. Customers can’t select the same industry software.
Scalability: Software ability to grow with your company
Flexibility: Ability to meet your different requirements
Excess Complexity: The less complexity the more user-friendly
Best Technology: Technology should be user-friendly as per the current trend
Cost: The total cost of ownership should be cost effective
Best Culture: Software and software vendor should be culture friendly
With the advent of cloud-based software, ERP has become a viable option for small businesses. There is a handful of players on the market, including SMB or SME options from market leaders such as Odoo.
To find the best one for your small business, largely depends on what your business needs.
Almost all cloud-based ERP systems for small businesses offer an affordable entry and reasonably quick implementation, so the key is to list the ERP requirements your business needs, while also keeping in mind:
Scalability – try to gauge not only what your business currently needs, but what it might need in the near future. The hope is that your small business experiences growth, so you want to be sure the ERP system can support that.
Integration – if you’re already using business apps for CRM, accounting, etc., check out which ERPs can integrate to them. This will save you time migrating important data to a new system or starting from scratch.
Data security for cloud-based systems is less of a worry today, but some industries still have regulations on where and how data can be stored and transmitted.
It will depend on your organization, your business model, your growth strategy, your pain points, and your ability to change. One answer I can give you, though, is that if your company is facing the following problems recurrently, an ERP is probably the solution you are looking for: You make decisions based on incorrect data initial; Not only you will use better data, but you can apply it to generate more profit. Actually the MIT found that organizations driven most by data-based decision making had 4% higher productivity rates and 6% higher profits.
Your departments operate like isolated islands
A marketing company found that the average company uses over 500 different software tools. If it is your case and you think centralizing all this information into one platform could help (you are right), you might be ready for an ERP.
Accounting & Reporting takes forever.
Traditional accounting takes inputs from every area of a business. Revenues are summed up, assets are estimated, inventory is reported, and costs are subtracted. This is the easy picture.
But running a business is anything but easy. With daily fires to put out, it is not uncommon to spend weeks or months without making any entries in the books nor reconciling any business checking statements, or sales tax accounts. Financial statements are out of date, and suddenly, you are making decisions based on obsolete information.
Understanding your business and its key processes and then selecting an ERP vendor that would be a good fit for your business is what is needed.
Read and research about ERP vendors online (Panorama has some great papers on selecting an ERP vendor) and talk to other businesses that have a similar set of processes and are in the same industry and find out how happy they are with their current ERP system. Since the cost of software licenses and implementation fees is going to be large and you will be stuck with your system long after the implementation is complete, it is wise to take this decision carefully.
Again, try contacting independent contractors, analysts or consultants to understand and analyse your business and then see what they recommend is a good fit for your business.
If you contact SAP, Oracle, MS dynamics or any of the other vendors directly, they will try to sell you on the benefits of their ERP system and will conduct demos that are more like sales pitches rather than spend some time analyzing your business and helping you solve your business problems with their software, not necessarily thinking about whats best for your business.
Speak to your IT head (if you have one) and listen to what he/she recommends, or Contact Us at Arvant, we will be happy to discuss your requirement at no cost to you.
Discovery and Planning: This first phase begins during the sales process and then continues post-sale. During this period, the project team will be created. There will be initial meetings and documentation developed as the team works to identify current issues and potential solutions. An important part of this phase is constructing the project plan, which will serve as a guide throughout the rest of the project. More detail on the Discovery and Planning phase.
Design: We’re not talking about painting the office or rearranging furniture. Instead, what will the new enterprise-wide system look like and how will it be used in the organization? In the ERP Design phase, the project team and implementation team will be working out the various configurations for the new system, defining roles, and documenting standard procedures. Read more on the Design phase.
Development: The purpose of the development phase is to prepare the entire system for going live. This includes activities such as completing any necessary customization, developing user training, and importing data. With ERP implementations like any custom software development projects – “First, Solve the problem. Then, write the code.” Get a better look at the Development phase.
Testing: Is the system’s functionality aligning with the set requirements for the project? The Testing and Development phases will often overlap, as the implementation and project teams jump between the two – constantly fine tuning the configuration. By the end of this phase, project team members will be comfortable doing their jobs in the new system. This is the final step before diving into the live system. Check out more on the Testing phase.
Deployment: The project team and implementation team will assess the situation and make the final go or no-go decision. Prior to going live, the final data will be loaded and validated. The project team will train other employees who will then start working in the new system, and completely stop using the old one. Read the article on the Deployment phase.
Ongoing Support: Once the ERP system has gone live, the purpose of the project team will shift. Over time, as the way the users work within the system evolves, adjustments and changes to the system configuration may be needed.
There are three types of professional services that are provided when implementing an ERP system, they are Consulting, Customization and Support.
Contact Us at Arvant to provide you obligation free advice.
The main reason why ERP implementations are challenging that it changes the way a company works. Not its business processes but the way the process is carried out.
Another challenging aspect is the amount of money, effort and time involved. Any approach, from big bang to phases, there are considerable amounts of resources required to make it happen.
Then you have reluctance from the employees. They are used to the current process that they carry out today. Implementing ERP means that they will have to come out of their comfort zones and learn (make effort) a new thing aka reluctance to change.
Once a company has decided to implement ERP, then the challenging thing is to manage the implementation. Most of the times, the teams over grow and result in too much of cost and at the other times the team is not sufficient to finish the task in target time. Both cases lead to loss of money and / or time for the company.
Once the company has a optimum sized team, then the challenging thing is to manage the team, delegation of tasks, keeping sub-teams in sync etc.
If the implementation runs for a significant period of time, then attrition also poses challenges. Any new team / business personnel will take some time to come up to the speed and most certainly will have different views than existing. Managing harmony within the teams is quite challenging.
All in all, its a big step for any company, it will definitely be challenging. If the challenge is tackled efficiently, you are in for a sweet reward.
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