Just imagine what automating your processes could do to your business. It helps team members focus on the most important tasks and strategic goals taking productivity-eating mechanical tasks off the employee’s table. Furthermore, process automation provides significant opportunities to work more coherently because multiple systems, statistics, and approaches could be integrated together. This helps team members orient better and more clearly understand their tasks. Increasing employee efficiency drastically eases team management, and automation gives opportunities to assign tasks dynamically, providing an additional layer of flexibility to any project.
Core business processes and resources (like cash flows, raw materials or capacity) can be managed with the help of software and technology (an Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system).
Here is what ERP systems are all about:
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a high-performance software that assists every aspect of business operations across the whole company. It encompasses sales, marketing, accounting, human resources, manufacturing, order management, distribution, logistics, and all other departments you can think of.
Common features include:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Financial Management
- Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management
- Human Capital Management
- Purchasing Management
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)CRM system is a software platform digitalizing and automating processes for managing the company’s interactions with current and potential clients. A customer relationship management solution can be a part of an ERP system or could be an individually developed product.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is used by sales, marketing, and business development professionals to:
- Keep track of customers and their purchasing behavior
- Identify business opportunities and new sales leads
- Streamline the sales process and reduce repetitive work
- Automate marketing processes, e.g., email or online advertising campaigns
- Manage social media accounts and campaigns
- Facilitate better support for current customers
Financial ManagementOne of the core functionalities of an ERP system you should consider is financial management, ensuring companies meet financial, reporting, and tax requirements with a single banking, payment, and accounting system. This way you could flawlessly manage and monitor your due/owed capitals and free cash flow.
The functionality also provides managerial personnel with a clear picture of business development, opportunities, costs, and trends. One of the most powerful tools you can invest in is building a real-time financial reporting and data analytics functionalities that give managers the opportunity to monitor the measurable performance of different departments.
Manufacturing and Supply Chain ManagementOne of the surest ways to reduce costs and secure high ROI is to implement efficient inventory management. All data regarding the process could easily be stored in an enterprise resource management software. This process of digitalization helps teams plan and react according to the information in the ERP, increasing employee efficiency and the quality of the work output.
Other useful functionalities include workflow management and quality control which can substantially optimize the required times to do some everyday activities. A powerful tool you can use for insights into managerial decisions and that provides extreme flexibility is a real-time reporting and monitoring of demand, supply and production.
Human Capital ManagementOne of the first things to consider when designing the employee management functionality in an ERP system is to implement different levels of access. This provides everyone one in the team only with the data they need to perform their tasks, ensuring an additional level of security against information breaches.
Another vital thing to consider is the exact process of delivering tasks. This means that each project should have specific information that will be helpful to all members working on it. Our practice has shown us that the minimal data you include in each project should involve at least the following fields:
- Client – name of client plus contact info so that the sales/support team could easily approach them
- Tasks – to give employees a precise idea of what is expected of them
- Employees – provides a list of employees working on the concrete project to facilitate easy communication process
- Deadlines – give employees and managers a clear view of when a project and/or tasks should be finished to be able to organize work and prioritize particular activities
- Description – for any additional information or notes that may help other employees, e.g. “the client doesn’t want to be contacted on Tuesday”
Having this data implemented in your ERP system will help you align the efforts of different team members. You could also add monitoring and reporting capabilities to ensure you could accurately measure the performance of each employee. Many companies have also moved their talent pool databases to such platforms to automate parts of the recruitment process.
Purchasing ManagementThe ERP’s Purchasing Management module helps organizations to automate, optimize and control their procurement processes. Purchasing is usually quite different and unique for every organization, so you should require as much flexibility and options for customization to the ERP as possible to be able to achieve your goals. In the best-case scenario, the module should include and automate all of the purchasing processes and have all the needed tools for the organization. Some basic functionalities within the module are:
- Managing a supplier/service provider database
- Processes of identifying potential service providers
- Comparing propositions
- Automated purchase order processing
- Billing processes
Other useful features could be easy and quick invoices approval workflow; automated e-mail templates and functionalities; secure purchasing contract management; dashboard with data analytics and custom reports.
Purchasing Management is usually integrated with supply chain management, inventory and accounting modules in the ERP system.
Customize your process automationOf course, there are plenty of ready-to-use solutions available in the industry, some of them with great advantages and teams of professionals. But why and when you should consider building a custom ERP solution for your business success?
Many more businesses challenge the status quo of their industry and find their way to success through developing custom high-performance ERP solutions. For many companies standard solutions doesn’t really work and can’t help them drive up real lasting results. A lot of them are facing different troubles such as: the build-in functionalities don’t correspond to their own processes and don’t really solve their problems.
The main issue in such cases is that the company has to adapt its processes and work to the specifics of the software. When developing an ERP solution from scratch companies have the opportunity to do the opposite – to adapt the system and functionalities to their specific workflow and requirements.
One of the essential things to do when designing your own ERP platform is to make sure it’s tailored to the needs of your business and can perfectly fit your structure and work approach.
Ability to Scale for the FutureProbably one of the most important aspects to consider when designing your ERP system is whether it can answer your future needs. Developing such a platform is a costly initiative, and this is why you need to ensure the investment is worth it. You don’t want to invest in developing a solution you’re going to use for the next 2 or 3 years and then ditch to build a new one. It’s best to think of what tomorrow can offer and ensure the software can meet the requirements of your scaling business.
Intuitive Design, Training and MaintenanceKeep in mind that every solution, ERP systems included, has to be deployed in the company. This means that you can’t simply implement it one day and expect every employee to know how to use the platform efficiently. This is why it’s vital to aim for clear, easy-to-navigate design that is intuitive to orient in. Doing training for employees would ensure faster and smoother implementation of the system.
One additional benefit you definitely need to consider is if the software development company you choose to develop your platform can provide further maintenance and help you with any future problems regarding the platform.