For the average mid-sized business, the phrase Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) may sound intimidating. For starters, it has “enterprise” in the name. Any time the word enterprise pops up, what comes to mind? Global businesses? S&P 500? An IPO?
Technically, yes. Those are all enterprises. But in reality, all enterprise means is “a for-profit business.” Small businesses are enterprises, just as much as global players are. Similarly, enterprise resource planning software is just that—a product designed to plan resources at your company. There’s ERP for global players, there’s ERP for national chains, and there’s ERP for mid-sized companies like yours.
In fact, thanks to the affordability that exists in the cloud, many companies are opting to replace their accounting software with an ERP earlier in their business lifecycle. So today, we’d like to clear up some of the questions you may have about what ERP actually is and how you can tell if you’re ready to make the move.
What Is ERP Software?
According to the Business Software Education Center’s Business Technology Glossary, enterprise resource planning is defined as
“A solution that allows a company to manage various aspects of a business — such as accounting, inventory and human relations — in one place. Companies purchase the enterprise software modules that are relevant to their business and use the ERP software to view all the data collected by these modules in a uniform manner.”
To put it even more simply, it’s QuickBooks—with a lot more features and a lot fewer hassles. Now, rather than tracking every single element of your business in a spreadsheet, work with one interface to cover everything you need.
Many Tiers of ERP Software—But Lines are Blurring
Again, the reason ERP may sound more intimidating than it is in reality is because ERP means different things to different companies. Too often, this puts decision makers in a mental trap—thinking of the tiers as “good, better, best” rather than midsized, national, global.
If a retail giant was to implement a new ERP, they’d work with a limited selection of companies called ‘tier one’ vendors. The project could take 3-5 years or more and see an eight- or nine-figure price tag. These aren’t for you—at least not today.
Traditionally, tier 1 vendors generally served large global businesses, tier 2 vendors served mainly mid-market businesses, and tier 3 vendors typically served smaller-than-medium-sized businesses.
But as we said, lines are blurring—due in part to the rise of the cloud. The cloud has made these solutions more flexible, not only in the functionality that could be added, but the number of users as well.
Why Companies Are Making the Move to Full-Fledged ERP Earlier Than Ever
We’ve been in this business for nearly three decades and have watched the way businesses work change during this time. However, in the last decade or so, we saw a trend—companies were making the move earlier. There are good reasons for this.
Build As You Go
Tier two options like NetSuite and Acumatica can start out as simple as you need them to be. Want to start with a financial management product that can handle business process monitoring, GL, AP/AR/Cash Flow, and consolidations for a few users? You can.
Today’s mid-sized business can put a few users on their ERP solution. Others can pay by the amount of computing resources used. Either way, it allows companies to get up and running with ease.
For example, SuiteSuccess can take a business from zero to cloud in 100 days. Similarly we’ve been able to complete agile Acumatica implementations able to get our clients up and running within a couple months.
It Grows with You
One of the biggest problems with “tier three” offerings like QuickBooks and the like—there’s a ceiling. At some point, whether It’s next year or five years from now, companies will need something the product can’t deliver.
For example, say you’re a distributor who wants to launch a consumer facing site AND a B2B portal for your clients. Then you want to integrate both of these with one or more warehouses. For both NetSuite and Acumatica, that’s just another day’s work. For lower tier ERP? Good luck.
Just as you can add one new user or complete one new task in a cloud ERP solution, you also have the freedom to scale. Oh look, now that you launched your ecommerce site, one of your specialty products went viral in Brazil and you need to double in size next quarter while implementing multi-currency and international shipping. Make a call and you’ll have the processing power—we’ll be right out to train your users.
The Journey to ERP Doesn’t Have to be Intimidating
Today’s ERP is less intimidating, easier to use, more flexible, and more functional than ever. At MIBAR, we’ve been doing this for years and know the ins and outs of the products we deliver—not only boasting a high success rate, but a high success rate saving other partners’ failed implementations.
If you’re preparing to implement an ERP system—or even thinking about it—MIBAR can help. Contact us to learn more (you might even be eligible for a special offer)!