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Updated Apr 19, 2024

What Is ERP Software and How Can It Increase Efficiency?

ERP software can help your company operate more efficiently so you can focus on other areas of your business.

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Jamie Johnson, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
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We’ve all heard the saying, “Time is money,” and that statement is more true today than ever. For small business owners, time and money are precious resources. Fortunately, the right technology can improve the efficiency of your company’s operations and your workforce’s effectiveness. Once your enterprise operates optimally, you’ll have more time to focus on increasing profitability.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software can help you achieve these goals. ERP software gives you the tools needed to overcome daily workplace challenges and ensure your business continues to grow. 

What is ERP software?

ERP software is technology companies use to manage their most essential business operations, including project management, accounting, inventory management and human resources (HR). ERP software is essential because it allows companies to manage multiple aspects of a business within a single platform. This capability can improve company communications and create more accurate data reporting.

Did You Know?Did you know
If you prefer standalone solutions, consider implementing the best accounting software to handle finances and the best HR software to manage your workforce.

How does ERP software work?

ERP software uses a central dashboard to monitor various business processes. It ensures data from multiple departments can be shared and viewed easily and cuts down on siloes within your business. This helps improve your company’s workflow and reduces time-consuming manual processes.

For example, you could use ERP software to manage your company’s inventory and finances. ERP software can track your existing inventory, account for changing costs and update your company’s financial statements. Those are three different tasks you can accomplish with one solution.

What are the benefits of ERP software for small businesses?

Integrating ERP software into your business brings multiple benefits, including the following. 

1. ERP software improves efficiency.

ERP software automates repetitive tasks and streamlines your business’s processes. ERP software can automate inventory management, financial reporting and order fulfillment, among other processes. This will save you time, lower overall costs and help your business run better.

As your business becomes more efficient, it will be better able to expand into new markets or create new products and services. The company will also become more flexible and able to adapt to changes in the market. 

2. ERP software helps you monitor project progress.

ERP software allows supervisors and managers to follow the progress of every project phase to ensure benchmarks and key performance indicators are met. Tracking a project step by step allows management to identify when an employee needs additional reinforcements to ensure the project is delivered on time. 

3. ERP software keeps team members on the same page.

Creating team sites and employee portals through ERP software can help all team members work together productively across your organization. ERP software can boost workforce collaboration regardless of where your employees are located or whether they work in different departments. 

Ensuring all team members are on the same page will eliminate obstacles hindering communication or slowing progress. ERP software allows a project’s team members to reach out to others within the organization and provides additional help or insight.

4. ERP software fosters communication and problem-solving.

When a company places performance information in a virtual location easily accessible to everyone, managers can more effectively communicate the organization’s business strategy. In addition, they can set employee performance goals that support the company’s overarching objectives.

When performance and project information is available in a centralized location with ERP software, you create a more open environment with greater visibility and enhanced business transparency. Employees understand the business’s larger vision and how their work fits into it clearly. Your workplace enjoys creative synergy, higher employee engagement, increased productivity and enhanced problem-solving.  

5. ERP software helps you analyze business performance.

Today’s ERP software boasts advanced reporting options and data analytics capabilities that help business owners and managers understand the organization’s performance better                along with industry trends and customer preferences. 

By accessing analytical reports and performance metrics, you and your management team can collaborate to tweak ineffective strategies and develop new ones. ERP software can also play a vital role in inventory management, linking key metrics across your organization. 

FYIDid you know
ERP industry trends include an increase in cloud-based solutions, more small businesses adopting this technology and more customized ERP solutions for various businesses.

How do I choose and implement ERP software?

ERP software isn’t one size fits all. Instead, various iterations are tailored to specific functions or industries. For example, there are ERP software platforms focused on accounting and customer relationship management and specific ERP solutions for manufacturing and healthcare. 

Here are the steps to choosing the right ERP software for your business.

1. Identify your current business processes.

Before deciding which ERP software would be best for your business, you must analyze your current processes. Which operations could be streamlined? Where could your organization be more efficient? 

Determine what your company is doing well and identify areas for improvement. This analysis will clarify what to look for when you meet with software vendors. 

2. Research various options.

Research a wide variety of software options before deciding on a solution. Ask your colleagues and employees for recommendations and research thoroughly before meeting with sales reps. When talking with vendors, insist on demos of how the software works. Online reviews are also a great resource.

3. Determine how you’ll implement the new software.

Once you’ve chosen an ERP software solution, you should develop an implementation plan. A good implementation plan accounts for how you’ll install the software and ensures it’s fully functional and can be used by everyone. You should offer training so all employees know how to use the software.

TipBottom line
When it comes to ERP software implementation, investing in employee training is crucial. To increase the likelihood of successful adoption, you should introduce the software in stages and get your team's buy-in.

4. Track the ERP software’s benefits.

If you’re trying to meet a specific goal through ERP software, such as reducing business costs, track and measure your progress after implementing the new system. That way, you’ll know whether or not the solution is successful. 

What are examples of ERP software?

The following solutions are highly rated ERP software platforms. Consider them as you begin your search:

  • Oracle NetSuite: Oracle NetSuite offers a wide array of features, including payroll, HR and customer relationship management (CRM) software. The platform is highly versatile and customizable. You can also easily integrate Oracle NetSuite with other software you use to run your business. Our Oracle NetSuite CRM review explains this platform’s integrations with the broader collection of Oracle NetSuite cloud-based services. 
  • SAP: SAP offers ERP software that incorporates an organization’s key business functions. It helps companies avoid the damaging effects of complexity and generate new opportunities for growth and innovation. SAP provides real-time information across an organization, reducing redundancy and helping create a more efficient work environment for everyone.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365: Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a family of business solution software that integrates data, business applications, documents and devices to help employees maximize their time. This platform allows you to automate functions within your business, enhancing collaboration and increasing sales.
  • Sage: The Sage ERP platform is easy to use and customizable to fit your business’s needs. You can use the software to get an overall picture of your business finances, manage your cash flow and access detailed reports. The order management module can manage high order volumes and simplify inventory management. Check out our Sage 50 review to learn more about the accounting aspects of the Sage ecosystem. 

These solutions are only a small sampling of the ERP software available. No matter your business goals, ERP software will ultimately help you and your company run as efficiently as possible, both from a cost perspective and a time-management perspective. If you haven’t invested in this type of technology yet, you are missing out on an opportunity to improve your workplace and help your business succeed.

author image
Jamie Johnson, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Jamie Johnson has spent more than five years providing invaluable financial guidance to business owners, leading them through the financial intricacies of entrepreneurship. From offering investment lessons to recommending funding options, business loans and insurance, Johnson distills complex financial matters into easily understandable and actionable advice, empowering entrepreneurs to make informed decisions for their companies. As a business owner herself, she continually tests and refines her business strategies and services. Johnson's expertise is evident in her contributions to various finance publications, including Rocket Mortgage, InvestorPlace, Insurify and Credit Karma. Moreover, she has showcased her command of other B2B topics, ranging from sales and payroll to marketing and social media, with insights featured in esteemed outlets such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, CNN, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report and Business Insider.
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