As customers get connected ever more so to businesses, there’s an implicit requirement right there in order to make your 21st century business flourish. In order to connect with your customers better, there’s no doubt that you need to know them to the best of your ability. Likewise, this is only achieved by having a business that is deeply and smoothly connected internally, with every department staying well aware of what its counterparts are up to.
In turn, the steady interaction between these business units is what creates optimum transparency and understanding of all your stakeholders, let alone your customers. Apart from seamless business processes, the flow of data and the manner in which it is churned to reveal strategic insights is what gives today’s businesses the breakthroughs they desperately need to stand out from their competition.
So where does ERP come into this whole mix? ERP, unlike other specialized yet stand-alone software achieves both the above-mentioned necessities for modern-day companies. Eliminating silos and enhancing routine operations, it is the deep interconnectivity that makes ERPs unprecedented in the context of enterprise software. Add to that the element of customization, and you have a holistic solution that communicates with every corner of your organization, while completely alleviating the need for ad hoc integrations between external software.
In retrospect, ERPs were initially developed for the manufacturing industry, in order to cope with intricate business processes and the need to transfer data from multiple departments in an on-demand basis. Owing to its qualities, the software has now been grasped by multiple market sectors. But that’s not all – while ERPs were also focused towards larger corporations, software developers and vendors alike are aware of its advantages for smaller businesses. Therefore, modern-day ERPs also include solutions for small to medium-sized companies, so that any business irrespective of volume or industry can make the most of the benefits it provides.
With the high efficacy of the ERP comes an equally high complexity in terms of development. That is why the scope of web development in Sri Lanka is never limited to a one-size-fits-all approach of building any custom software – particularly enterprise software. In addition to the usual factors such as hosting, deployment and budgets, ERPs present developers the additional challenge of addressing data migration concerns – out of which a failure to do so could possibly even cause implementation to fail.
If you’re a business owner that’s looking to streamline operations with an all-round ERP solution, building a tailor-made system that adheres to your company’s unique requirements is always recommended. But before you get started, here are some key pieces of information that will prove to be useful both when preparing a development strategy, but also for preventing any mishaps lest they have the likelihood to occur.
Even at the hands of an expert software development agency, this undertaking can feel overwhelming, nonetheless. However, establishing these ground rules can always equip you with the knowledge you need to build an ERP that’s ideal for your business.
Short for Enterprise Resource Planning, ERPs are companywide software solutions that enable businesses to make routine operations faster, easier and more efficient overall. As each business unit is connected via its own specialized system, gathering data from around the company is now more accessible and streamlined too. In turn, an analytics solution that is also connected to the rest can then make better sense of this data, in order to influence smarter decision making.
While every ERP will be unique depending on the needs of the company that it serves, it will typically cover the following areas:
Here, we’ll cover a step-by-step strategy on what you can do to make your ERP development and subsequent implementation a success. Even if you aren’t tech-savvy, this strategy is a helpful blueprint to learn what you can do, and also know what to expect from your software development team.
Before you even approach a software development agency to undertake the task of building an ERP for your business, you need to know what the software needs to be capable of in the first place. For this purpose, your team members are the best sources of advice, as they are the ones who execute daily operations in and around the company, while also tackling moments of crises if ever they arise.
Gathering staff across multiple hierarchies (from entry-level to C-suite) is most advisable, as individuals at every level have a perspective to offer that’s unique from their job positions. Asking the right questions can give you the lowdown of all the ways that your company faces hindrances when conducting its daily operational duties. Here are some great questions to get candid feedback flowing from your team:
Once you obtain answers to the above-mentioned questions, you can then proceed to liaise with your software developer since this feedback shall serve as a brief for them to understand the calibre of ERP software that will be best for your business. Next, you will be able to ascertain the following requirements which will ultimately determine the amount of work that involves the development of your ERP:
Out of these requisites, all except for hosting, deployment and data migration can be determined based on your company’s capabilities alone. Discussing the options available for the rest can familiarise you with what’s available out there, and also enable you to ask the right questions to your developer so that you can scrutinize accordingly and choose nothing but the most ideal for your business.
Nowadays, the Cloud has become a popular option for hosting every form of software – from generic SaaS applications to the most customised enterprise solutions. Likewise, the Cloud is always a reliable option, but it does have its limitations.
As far as the advantages are concerned, Cloud-based hosting can be scaled up or down at your convenience, depending on an increase or decrease in needs. It’s also easier and cheaper to begin with Cloud hosting, since specialised equipment such as servers don’t need to be purchased, configured, maintained and stored in a secure location.
One of the biggest caveats though is that Cloud hosting isn’t proprietary, unlike its on-premise counterpart. So while it’s a go-to option for many software solutions and businesses as of late, it may not always be the best. Your budget will also come into play here, so discussing what’s ideal with your software developer can give you the insight you need to make the best choice.
No matter how sophisticated your upcoming ERP is bound to be, it will be rendered to little or no use if data from your legacy system isn’t exported correctly. Transferring data improperly or partially can risk implementation failure, so it’s important to ascertain how this shall be done well ahead in advance.
In short, remembering how data flowed in your older system, and how it is due to flow within your new system is crucial to determining the final data migration process that your developer needs to execute. However, it isn’t always that straightforward, and the following facts may help you understand what you and your developer can possibly do for your particular data.
Data migration can be carried out in two ways – transaction driven and table driven. While the former only exports data that has been actively used and is relevant, the latter aims to export every single bit of data that exists. Owing to the significantly smaller quantity of data that is transferred, transaction driven data migration is faster and cheaper, while the complete data set can be stored as a backup in case of future reference. On the other hand, while table driven data migration is more complex due to its bulkier data set, it doesn’t require additional effort to retrieve legacy data.
As for timing, data migration is a task that can render certain databases out of reach until the job is done. Therefore it needs to be carried out in a situation when your staff may not need the database, or outside normal working hours. While these are things that you need to be aware of when it comes to data migration, talking to your developer once again will be much more productive now that you know what needs to be discussed.
Of course, developing your ERP suite needs to be done within your financial means, while receiving the most for every penny spent. When it comes to determining what is affordable, it has to be done in conjunction with what you’re receiving in return. For example, a higher budget may not always reap exactly what you need in terms of features, contrary to popular belief. Likewise, a low-budget software may not be enough for your entire company, even if you are a small business.
Therefore it is wise to always conduct a cost-benefit analysis to weigh in the pros and cons of what you’re about to invest your hard-earned money into. You may realise that going a little over your pre-planned budget may actually reap you bigger benefits for the long run, so that may eventually prove to be more feasible.
No matter where you lie on the budget spectrum, it is essential to always keep unforeseen contingencies in mind, and thereby set aside a budget lest any mishaps occur. Don’t forget that many ad hoc costs may add up as you progress, which can eat away an otherwise static budget. As you conduct your feasibility study, it is also wise to talk to others who have been in a similar position as you; getting the opinions of other ERP users (preferably within your industry) may not only give you insider information on what works and doesn’t, but also who is competent enough to undertake your ERP development in the first place.
Today’s deeply interconnected business world relies not only on its customers for prosperity, but also a seamless data and operational network within the confines of one’s organisation. ERP software is the answer to such a consolidation, as the solution streamlines business processes across every department of its company. In addition to that, it also enables the smooth transfer of data between business units. While this makes routine operations all the more efficient, it also leverages reporting capabilities by crossing over data across multiple business units for better insight and decision making.
Whether you are looking to upgrade your existing ERP or build one from scratch, there are a number of guidelines you can follow as a business owner. Together with your software developer, adhering to a basic blueprint on what to do in due course of development can make your ERP not just well suited for your organisation, but ensure implementation that is easy and problem-free.
Starting off, conducting a detailed discussion with everyone involved in operational processes is a great starting point, without a doubt. Asking questions about the problems that team members face can then ascertain the calibre of ERP that will be best for your business, as well as your budget. Next, where you host your ERP depends on how often you’ll need to scale up or down, and whether your team shall require remote access. Last but not the least, adopting a data migration strategy based on whether you need all your legacy data or not will influence the success rate of your implementation.