What type of system is right for small business?
Every small business is different; each has specific information that is critical to the top and bottom line. Successfully managing, relating, tracking, and alerting on this critical business data ranging from customers, contacts, students, vendors to trucks, technology assets or livestock requires careful planning. No one wants to end up with an environment of multiple disparate systems that all have their own technology, terminology and methodology or a behemoth ERP system that requires a large capital investment, can be hard to modify/extend and requires upgrades that can break a company’s pocketbook.
Option 1: Build from Scratch
My background ranges from architecting and building ecommerce systems from scratch to implementing and extending an enterprise ERP system. I have had fun building a custom application and deciding how we would architect the presentation, client, business and data layers, and design cross-cutting concerns like exception handling, messaging, event handling, transaction management, integration and background processing. There are numerous ways to handle this with a custom application and I will guarantee you that in two to three years someone will look at your application framework and say “Wow, can’t believe they did it this way, they should have done…”, and that someone will probably be you!
Option 2: Implement an ERP Solution
I also had the opposite fun of implementing an ERP solution which provided an extendibility framework for custom objects but this required developers to do most of the work. I lead a team of around twenty developers building custom user interfaces, modifying and creating workflows, creating custom reports (the out-of-the-box reports almost never met the needs), integrating to other core internal systems, etc. The decisions weren’t quite like they were with the custom system, it was more like “How do we extend the right way to keep upgrades working?” or “How do I integrate these two systems together in the best and most cost-efficient manner?”
What does a small business need?
Small businesses want and need systems that:
- do not take a large capital investment
- do not require costly upgrades
- can be tailored to their specific needs
- can grow with them
Custom developed solutions can definitely get you exactly what you need but this comes with the cost of building a system from scratch and maintaining the system over time with an IT development organization. Buying something off the shelf can also get you what you want. But it will also have a number of features you do not want and need to ignore or turn off. You will probably need to modify your internal processes to match what the system can do.
A New Option: xRM
Enter a different type of solution to this problem, the Microsoft xRM application framework! I even love the terminology of using “x” in the name meaning “anything” as I have a mathematics education.
This framework provides the foundation to quickly build applications that target your business’ business objects and how they relate together. Much of this can be done with no or minimal application development. When development is required it is implemented on a strong application framework foundation that utilizes Microsoft’s core technologies under the covers.
What does xRM provide for small businesses?
Avastone has a dedicated team that specializes in Microsoft CRM and xRM. Our team is continually researching new ways to utilize this technology to provide cost-effective, enterprise grade solutions to our customers. Please contact Avastone and we can evaluate your needs and help you with the solution that best meets your company’s needs.
By, Drew Poggemann, Director of Technology, Avastone Technologies LLC,