Efficiently Leveraging ERP and CRM Software as a Small or Midsize Business

The explosion of consumer and business technology has continued unabated for many years. Both individuals on a personal level and companies as whole understand the many benefits that digital tools offer. In business, having the right software and hardware in place means using technology to the advantage of an organization, seeking out and eliminating inefficiencies while improving both day-to-day and longer-term operations.

Of course, this approach can sound easier in abstract than it does in action. Businesses have to make the right choices about exactly what types of technology they'll use, or else the return on investment can be negligible or even negative. Small and midsize businesses have to be even more careful as they don't have the deep pockets of the largest multinational organizations and can't afford to make mistakes with systems that carry significant price tags and require organization wide change. This is certainly the case for enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management software, as both provide significant benefits - but only when configured and used properly.

So what can these companies do to make sure their choices related to technology are the right ones? Here are a few pieces of advice:

Research, research, research
Choosing the right ERP and CRM software involves plenty of fact-finding and comparisons before the actual decision to purchase a specific platform is made. There are many different avenues to explore when it comes to researching a purchase, but those involved in the selection of a new system shouldn't be discouraged. Deciding on a time to start finding information and choosing an area to explore first, making a research plan, so to speak, is a simple method for ensuring such efforts are organized and effective. If an implementation team has already been formed, the members can divvy up the research responsibilities and present their findings in a group discussion. This approach can help find answers to nagging questions about functionality, integration and price - as well as reveal areas where there's more work to be done.

It's generally a best practice to work with an ERP and CRM software partner that can provide specific information about different types of software and draw on past experiences to help businesses identify potential issues during implementation. Companies should seek out potential partners and ask for references as well as examples of those partners working with similar organizations. Businesses should research the organizations they want to work with as well as their options for software.

Anticipate the unexpected
While successful implementations of ERP and CRM software happen very frequently, the scope of such a project means that there will probably be some issues that have to be addressed along the way. The reach of these platforms means they affect nearly all the departments and teams in a company, so an issue can appear in many different places. For just one example, an employee working with company finances may need to have production or shipment data presented in a specific format. This issue is certainly relevant but may not be anticipated far in advance by those in charge of the implementation.

Planning ahead and factoring extra time for such concerns, whether it's the need to add a new module to a system or to process data from a legacy platform, is a pragmatic and effective approach. While it may seem attractive to move on a quick timeline and maximize ROI, the reality is that the extra few days or weeks dedicated to implementation will help resolve problems and ultimately create a more useful and beneficial system.

By The TM Group

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