Q. What is ERP and why do I need it?
A. ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. ERP commonly refers to a system that integrates information across the organization. This system, which relies on a single database, automates the flow of information within the system.
Most systems are modular and allow you to add modules as you grow. Modules are usually tightly integrated; an update in one module often affects information in other modules. The modules all carry a consistent look and use the same layout.
ERP systems used to be for very large enterprises but in the last decade, systems have been designed for smaller businesses. A well-designed ERP system usually incorporates many aspects of a business – from CRM, order management and the supply chain to sales, accounting and marketing. When configured correctly, an ERP system gives you a clearer view of your business.
Q. What if I’m a really small company? Will ERP still benefit me?
A. You can find all kinds of ERP systems that incorporate different business processes (some do supply chain and HR, for example, and others don’t). ERP systems often have a minimum user requirement in order to maximize return-on- investment. InOrder, for example, is designed for companies with ten or more users.
Q. What are some things I should look for when considering an ERP system?
A. First, make a list of your business processes and what you’d like an ERP system to have: i.e. inventory and order management, accounting, real-time shopping cart, etc. You’ll want a system that can easily handle sales -- whether online or via retail stores.
A good place to begin your research is with Multichannel Merchant’s Annual Order Management Software Roundup, which is overseen by Ernie Schell. This special report lists 33 vendors that provide order management systems.
When researching vendors, always ask for a demo and make sure you:
• Can easily create reports
• See full system functionality
• Have access to up-to-date documentation