Dear ERP Doctor:
I have a terrible headache. Can you help?
My business has been growing steadily over the past year. I've increased staff and made hardware and software investments in several of our departments. Things should be running smoothly and efficiently. Yet, it seems like I can't get a handle on all the working parts.
All of our departments are operating just fine on their own. The difficulty is getting them to collaborate and share data as we try to grow our business. It's just not working. Instead of integration, our departments are operating in their own little silos.
That may have been fine when our business was just getting started, but it's not working for us anymore and it's giving me a major headache. I need help, but I don't think a generic prescription is going to solve this problem.
Ideally, I'd like to find someone who understands our business from our back-end operations to front-end customer service, sales and marketing. I need someone who can get a handle on our existing technology and figure out a way to make it all work together and facilitate collaboration and strategic long-term planning.
Most importantly, I need someone who understands our budget and who can recommend a solution that will meet our immediate needs, while also anticipating our future requirements as we continue to grow and expand.
I know I'm asking for a lot, but can you help me?
Small Business Owner
Dear Small Business Owner:
I'm sorry to hear of your headache. Believe it or not, I receive a lot of letters just like yours. Unfortunately, there's no pill or all-in-one potion that will relieve your headache. I could give you something to temporarily relieve your symptoms, but to truly cure your headache, we'll need to address the root of your problem.
A reliable ERP system is the cure your business needs, but I can't prescribe you any old generic system. I'm going to have to refer you to an ERP specialist if you want to get rid of your headache once and for all. What you really need is a trusted partner who understands the nuances of both your situation and the current ERP offerings on the market.
PRESCRIPTION: A trusted specialist and partner
Ideally, you will want to find a specialist who will take a holistic view of your business, including your departments, technologies and operating procedures and processes. An experienced partner will also look at your growth trajectory and long-term business plans and goals to make sure to implement the best ERP system to meet your current and anticipated future needs.
Of course, I understand that these are financially challenging times, and some ERP specialists may be out to make a quick buck. Some of these partners may try to sell you an all-in-one system that includes modules and features you may not need right now. I would be wary of any offers that seem too good to be true, since discounts and special pricing expire, and you will be left with hefty recurring charges for licensing, fees and other hidden costs.
The best thing I can recommend to cure your headache and meet your ERP needs is a flexible, cloud-based solution that holistically integrates all your technologies and business processes. This solution will include all the functionality and modules you will need as your business grows and changes moving forward. But it will be flexible enough to enable you to only use the components you need right now. You can always add new functionality as you expand and transform in the future.
To implement this type of solution you will want to find a trusted specialist, of course. Ideally, a company that has a broad range of experience across a variety of industries will be best suited to deal with your specific needs.
You will also need to find someone with a proven track record of helping small and growing businesses achieve productivity and efficiency increases through ERP. An ideal specialist and partner will help your business save money, grow and be able to focus on future plans and generating new revenue streams.
Your headache is definitely curable. But I can't just prescribe you any old generic ERP system. That would be akin to advising you to take two aspirin and call me in the morning.
To truly cure your headache, you will need to find a trusted partner to guide you through the ERP process. Because implementing an ERP system is definitely a process, and if you choose an incompetent partner, you can expect many more headaches down the road.
I know this is an important decision, and hopefully I've helped navigate you in the right direction. I wish you luck and success in eliminating your headache, growing your business, and finding a trusted partner and specialist to guide you throughout your ERP journey.
Cheers to your business getting well again soon!
Your ERP Doctor