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An ERP system can transform your business!.....Yeah right!

Let’s be honest – Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have traditionally not been known as the most exciting area of the business. But things are changing!

The key for all organisations is to seek a better understanding of who their customers are and to drive the business based on the insights from that derived data. Assistance establishing a defined strategy with the right combination of ERP, Database structure, customer management and marketing tools can provide a substantial platform to improve and accelerate business performance.

Many organisations see implementing an ERP system as a key business transformation initiative. While a number of well known ERP vendors are still dominating the local market, cloud-based and on-demand offerings continue to make inroads into the SMB sector.

Whichever ERP solution you choose, stick to the vanilla version. Changing your business to match the processes within the solution is usually the best approach and can deliver significant business improvement. Stay away from customising the solution makes upgrades much easier. When selecting your solution define your requirements clearly and precisely by doing this you will find a solution with a good functional fit for the organisation.

Look at the areas of your business that can adopt standard business processes. Areas such as accounts receivable and accounts payable are not unique. Overcome the thought that your business is unique and no system can do things quite “the way we do it”.

Consider customisation in the areas where you’ve got a unique business process that is not supported by the solution – unique from the perspective of value in the marketplace, not because ‘we do it differently around here’! If you do have an offering that is unique in the marketplace there could be an add-on package or product that you could implement and this would alleviate the need to customise. There is a balance to consider whether you implement and support customisations or implement and support add-on packages. Embrace the solution, and modify your business processes to adapt to what the solution is built for, rather than the other way around.

This approach can help you get a lot more value out of the solution and your people. By using the standard business processes you can eliminate manual intervention and referencing other systems.

The main benefit of an ERP system is having an integrated solution where key business processes use the same data. Enter the data correctly once and it goes right through everything in your system.

Focus on an enterprise database structure and investing in an ERP solution can be a driver for change and a key business transformation initiative. With a database structure in place and an ERP solution, organisations can realise the value in better data warehousing, and as a result better business performance analytics.

Generally there is an increase in spending in the ERP market and this is largely driven by cloud-based solutions. Xero and Net Suite are two vendors that are trailblazing the cloud-based ERP market in New Zealand.

The allure of cloud-based ERP solutions lies in the lower capital expenditure, which allows both the larger enterprises and the SMBs to experiment with it. A cloud-based solution also allows organisations to scale up and down when needed. This flexibility allows SMB to move away from a spreadsheet based management and reporting structure. Adopting a cloud-based ERP as it is, can be the perfect scenario getting results with a lower start-up cost.

This shift in thinking towards on-demand solutions, though the majority of the market still uses on-premise solutions. In New Zealand ERP market is still dominated by giants SAP, Microsoft and Oracle. However, the likes of Netsuite, MYOB and, increasingly, Xero are stronger in the mid-market level.

One key component influencing buyers today are cloud, mobility and social engagement via Face book, LinkedIn and twitter. Key examples of these consumer technologies in the workplace include using internal social platforms for employee collaboration; using web portals and social networks to automate recruiting and social project management; and accessing ERP applications via tablets and smartphones.

The key for all organisations is to seek a better understanding of who their customers are and to drive the business based on the insights from that derived data.

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