As organisations strive to streamline business operations, many variables need to be considered in order to render positive results. Budgets, time and user proficiency are all parts of the equation, and there’s no chance that your software objectives are bound to be successful if any of these factors aren’t scrutinised well enough.
The B2B industry of enterprise software is abundant in solutions, making businesses either spoilt for choice, or simply overwhelmed. Add to that the option of customising every solution you obtain, and you have the freedom to practically create precisely what you need. Long gone are the days of purchasing off-the-shelf software packages that may or may not solve your business woes; with tailor-made software that’s simultaneously scalable, anything is possible, literally.
Out of the plethora of enterprise software options out there, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software is at the forefront of facilitating routine operations, while providing predictive insights and equipping organisations to face any hurdles during times of crisis. The industry of web development in Sri Lanka is no stranger to ERP development either, as more and more businesses, both local and international present enthusiasm to jump into the bandwagon of deploying holistic ERP solutions that take care of every function imaginable.
ERP is popular, no doubt. But its origins are a little known fact. MIS (Management Information Systems) is the overarching software that eventually led to the creation of ERPs and several other software types, including but not limited to DSS (Decision Support Systems) and (OAS) Office Automation Systems. Being a stratum of its parent MIS concept, ERPs have long since made headway as the go-to software option for businesses both big and small – even more so than MIS itself.
However, as both businesses and development agencies focus on creating and utilising powerful ERP solutions, it pays to understand the roots of a software system so complex and interconnected. Here, we break down each system, and show you how you can apply key details to your own business context, for the best results.
In order to understand what MIS is all about, we need to take a retrospective look at how data as well as business processes have been automated with the advent of computer systems, as far back as the 1950s. As a matter of fact, MIS has been segregated into five eras, as below:
Era 1: Mainframe computers
Dominated by IBM mainframes, these were some of the first computers which took up large amounts of space and were costly to purchase and maintain.
Era 2: Minicomputers
A phase that was created to combat the bulky and costly nature of original mainframes. At this point, businesses could afford offering their employees computers they could actually work on.
Era 3: Client/server networks
Employees could now share data within networks. In other words, the intranet technology was born.
Era 4: Enterprise computing
Instead of integrating external software solutions as one, enterprise software technology made an all-in-one package possible.
Era 5: Cloud computing
Forgoing the need for on-premise servers, Cloud computing didn’t just enhance the integration quotient of enterprise software, but also made scaling each solution up or down depending on individual business needs all the more easier.
With the development of each era, the manner in which data was stored, transmitted and retrieved proportionately improved too. This led to MIS concepts being enhanced by the decade and eventually expanded to include the array of data and workflow systems we now have today.
As we look back at the history of MIS, data (and the way it was articulated) was the focal point of each era. In other words, MIS is all about feeding data and then diversely presenting it, particularly in ways that gives businesses the clearest insight.
Many confuse ERP and MIS, either overlapping the functions of each or even presuming that both are more or less the same. However, there are a few key differences between the two. Before we conduct a comparative analysis, let’s understand the true nature of ERPs, and what they are meant to do.
As elaborated earlier, ERPs are a derivative of MIS. At a time when multiple external software solutions across different departments were being integrated to facilitate the tasks carried out by an MIS (which includes planning, reporting and automating), ERPs stepped in. By offering both interdepartmental software and the functions of mainstream MIS into one package, ERPs ensured an all-round software system that offered many benefits.
These included data being shifted within the confines of one proprietary system (thereby eliminating the possibility of data transfer or migration errors) and not having to worry about integrating multiple applications in the first place, among many others.
Although both software systems may sound similar in many contexts, there are a few key aspects that are unique to each. They are:
Considering the additional perks that fully-fledged ERPs come with, it’s no surprise that almost every business out there both big and small wishes to deploy their very own ERP system. Speaking of company size, ERPs aren’t meant for corporate giants alone; unlike before, many leading software vendors now offer all-round ERP solutions for small to medium-sized enterprises as well, thanks to Cloud computing.
Whether you’re a business owner who’s looking to implement a brand new ERP or upgrade your existing one, here are some key benefits of the software that will help you refresh your perspective on why it isn’t just an extra, but an essential in today’s competitive business landscape.
With a suitable ERP, achieve higher levels of productivity and performance. As mundane tasks are automated and your employees are put to more resourceful use (such as overseeing tasks of a more strategic or analytical nature), you’ll not only save money, but also improve in other areas such as employee satisfaction and customer-centricity. On top of that, reduce errors by establishing automated processes that are fact-driven and real-time. In turn, this leads to more accurate results during reporting and predictive analysis, which subsequently facilitates decision-making that is also equally accurate.
The overall health of business areas that are involved in otherwise routine daily operations determine how far your company will go. With greater efficiency comes greater employee/customer satisfaction, and eventually the opportunity to be more accurate and prudential with decision-making. All this will improve your revenue, thereby giving your company the ROI it deserves from the time it first implemented the ERP solution. This brings us to our next point…
No matter how sophisticated or valuable your proposed ERP solution may seem, it’s crucial to objectively analyse what the ROI of your new software system will be – well before it’s implemented. Every penny matters even in the smallest and simplest of business ventures, and therefore ensuring that you’re going to receive a bang for your buck once your ERP is up and running is imperative to determine its success on a more monetary level.
In order to determine the intricacies of your ROI on the ERP solution you are keen on deploying, your software developer is the best entity to address these concerns. Ask for case studies that may resonate to your company and the nature of what you specialise in in order to get a better idea – and most ideally, a fair level of assurance before you take the big step.
Unlike legacy, off-the-shelf ERP systems, today’s Cloud-based and customisable solutions enable businesses to choose only what they need when they’re starting off, with the possibility of expanding in the future. SaaS solutions are famous for this very purpose, as they not only offer tiered subscription packages with the most minimalistic ones being available at reasonable costs, but also provide trials for as long as 30 days.
What’s more, you can edit and even remove functionalities as you wish, without spending extra or losing money while on subscription. With scalability now made so flexible, ERP implementations don’t feel as daunting or pressuring as they used to before, as less risk is now involved.
ERP solutions nowadays are built with programs that are common to most users on a global scale. This way, training your employees on how to use your brand new ERP is easier, as they’ll already be familiar with many of the applications that have been included in the suite. As a result, this will also reduce the time taken for your employees to transition and settle into your new system. Once again, this is another important factor that will greatly lift the pressure off of IT officers in your organisation, when making the big shift.
MIS and ERP systems are both integral constituents for any 21st century business, as they ensure higher productivity, reduced errors, concise reporting and accurate decision-making at every stage of any business process, and across every department within your organisation. However, many are confused between the two, and some even think that they are both the same.
It’s important to distinguish between MIS and ERP systems, as businesses need to be sure of what they really need, along with several other intricacies that follow through with each system. In consideration to today’s highly competitive corporate world, the right software is what shall empower business owners and managers to execute tasks, secure profits and win new customers; unlike before, when the deployment of software was known as an intangible investment that brought little to none in terms of ROI.
Times have changed, and any software application that is implemented is now done so with giving companies a bang for their buck. This is where MIS and ERP solutions come in, as they provide companies the backbone they need to get work done – quickly and accurately. Upon taking a closer look, MIS is an overarching system that only focuses on articulating insights from data. On the other hand, ERP systems are an extension of MIS which not only facilitate data analysis, but also consist of the software modules that supply the data (such as departmental software). Furthermore, ERPs integrate all these components into one holistic solution, whereas MIS is a stand-alone platform that requires integration with third-party software systems to receive its feed of data.
This presents many advantages to modern-day businesses that deploy ERP systems. For one, the need to integrate software from external vendors is absent. Add to that the ease of sharing data on a real-time basis within the same application, which makes data transmission and editing faster and seamless.
In the grand scheme of things, building, deploying and managing the right ERP system offers companies a host of additional benefits to enhance their own operations. Business bottom lines are enhanced as rates of efficiency are increased, including employee and customer satisfaction. Streamlined business processes via ERPs also present less errors and more accurate results, which subsequently reflect statistical analysis too.
Also, getting your employees to transition into a brand new or upgraded CRM isn’t as painstaking as it used to be before, as software vendors now utilise popular applications to create custom ERPs. Scalability is also not an issue anymore, thanks to the Cloud. Last but not the least, you can also get an ROI for what you invest in – something that was near impossible at a time when software was considered an intangible asset.
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