In Part 6 of our series, we introduced a new perspective on small business software, encouraged you to take a fresh look at your company and presented a superior solution to traditional siloed systems. Initial implementation is the most challenging period for any business switching to a new software system, but the unpredictable nature of small and mid-sized businesses reaffirms the importance of finding a minimally disruptive implementation process that's designed for SMBs, by SMBs.
Small business is unique.
Small and mid-sized businesses are exactly what their title implies – small. They don't have the budgets, IT or operations like huge multinational corporations. It's this small scale, in fact, that makes SMBs so wonderfully diverse: Executives like you have (and have worked hard for) the luxury of being attentive to the minutest details, of being truly vested in the company's success, of experimenting and changing directions when strategies fall flat. This not only enables, but also obliges a reevaluation of your software systems.
During Part 1 of this series, we discussed how silos gain such a stronghold early in enterprises' lifecycles, and it's this proleptical installation that makes siloed systems so difficult to depose. When it comes to assessing and analyzing business strategies, it's tempting to ignore your excess of silos, because they've been around for so long and are too deeply ingrained for you to abandon them and start from scratch.
It's a slippery slope.
Unfortunately, this is a mindset that gets many businesses into trouble. Complacency is unconducive to progress, and if you've used the same small business software since you opened your doors, you've likely outgrown it. After all, think of everything that's changed since your business started!
Since your software infrastructure is so central to your business, it's even more important to find a system that's optimized. Your company is built on the small business software you use; disjointed silos make an unstable base, while ERP software – especially cloud-based ERP – forms a strong, solid foundation. Let's address the implementation improvements of small business ERP software.
Implementation, made easy.
The idea of installing an entirely new small business software system is both exciting and daunting: The potential benefits are tantalizing, but the process of implementation is notoriously challenging. Fortunately, ERP implementation is much more efficient, quick and painless than its outdated predecessors. ERP boasts:
One of the biggest deterrents to installing a new business management system is the sheer time it takes to complete. Deployment of a full, new solution has traditionally been a long, arduous journey that's dragged out over months or years; it's expensive, and any eventual productivity benefits are overshadowed by the exorbitant downtime you suffer through the cumbersome implementation process.
ERP implementation, on the other hand, is quite different. The process is streamlined, and it's done backstage while your business functions normally otherwise. When every component is in place, you experience only momentary downtime as you switch to your new integrated software system.
Once you implement a business management system, it needs to be configured and adjusted along the way. When questions arise, you need them answered promptly. Any difficulties must be addressed and remediated quickly by an effective, invested team. Silo-based systems, which are comprised of multiple separate applications from different vendors, offer no real comprehensive support solution. With ERP, you have one system with one vendor and one point of contact throughout the entire lifetime of the software.
Traditionally, implementation and maintenance of a business management system requires a fully staffed IT department, expensive hardware and frequent updates. Add licensing and usage fees, and the final cost becomes quite a burden.
Small business ERP software is designed to be simple: to install, to run, to maintain and to upgrade. Instead of paying exorbitant amounts upfront for hardware, equipment and a range of software, you only pay for a single solution. Instead of paying an entire department to operate the system, one specialist is enough to handle your day-to-day needs. Down the line, your ERP vendor also automatically installs updates and upgrades to your system, so you're always working with the most advanced version of your software without having to pay extra.
Small business software doesn't operate via an on/off switch. Each department, role and employee in your enterprise needs different information from your business management system, so the system’s interface should be configurable enough to maximize its value for every employee in your organization. Silo-based systems are rigid because they're pieced together with multiple separate applications of varying configurability. In addition, any settings applied to the individual tools do not apply to the other applications in the system.
Because small business ERP is actually a single unit, settings applied to the overall system are preserved in the ERP modules as well. Your key decision-makers have access to critical KPIs and business insights, while your warehouse workers only see the information they need to do their jobs well. ERP software also gives your executives and managers the ability to configure high-level permissions, privacy, security and accessibility by role, department and employee so information is always in the most relevant, capable hands.
It's important to remember that the ultimate goal of your small business software is to improve your performance without sacrificing your success. ERP software is unobtrusive and easily configured; it's the only business management system that provides true alignment across your entire enterprise. Return for the conclusion of this blog series, where we explore the performance benefits that ERP affords your business.
Ready to learn more about the diverse capabilities of SMB Suite's integrative ERP software packages? Click the link below for a free ERP software assessment!