Ben Weiner, CEO, Conjungo

In difficult economic times it is important not only to maximise your customer base by selling more products and services but also increasing opportunities of closing further business with new customers. Business transactions are pretty much a process and ERP solutions make these processes more effective and valuable data more transparent.

Of course there’s a whole raft of potential suppliers of ERP solutions including companies such as Sage, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and Mamut. All are great quality solutions but some are not so ‘friendly’ to smaller organisations. The difference for example with Mamut is that they offer integrated software solutions and Internet services for SMEs.

Mamut offers complete and user-friendly solutions at the best value for money integrating CRM, sales force, logistics, accounting, e-commerce, domains, e-mail, web hosting and security. More than 400,000 European customers simplify their daily business with solutions from Mamut. Mamut are currently offering a free 45 day trial of Mamut One with an exclusive 30% discount on licence price for our readers. Click here for the 45 day free trial and simply quote. Quote CONJUNGO30 for your exclusive 30% Discount. What have you got to lose?

ERP systems allows organisations regardless of size and location to seamlessly integrate internal and external management information across an entire business, encompassing areas including finance & accounting, manufacturing, sales and service and more often than not customer relationship management, (more on CRM next month). Many people have a perception that ERP is for larger companies, but this is not the case. It can be as useful for a small operation as it would be for a large global enterprise. Whether you operate in not for profit, services or manufacturing, ERP can be of considerable value.

Enterprise Resource Planning systems collect data and financial information from various areas within an organisation, then stores that data centrally on a computer. ERP systems are typically made up of different modules depending on the type of organisation and its requirements. For example, a firm of lawyers wouldn't need a stock control system, as naturally they don’t carry any stock, however they might need to know how much time is being spent on every case that they are dealing with.

ERP systems can integrate the processes between a sales department, accounting department, manufacturing, logistics and stock. As a result, sales management will know what has been sold, know that an invoice can be generated for each sale and the items sold can be checked to see whether it is in stock. This therefore unifies the organisation by enabling various departments to see what is critical to their department but not necessarily within their control.

Small businesses face many of the same challenges as large organisations, albeit on a smaller scale. These include customer management, inventory and logistics, cash flow and visibility over key financial metrics.

ERP has typically been viewed as a system for larger organisation with hundreds or even thousands of employees. This is because traditionally the cost to purchase, deploy and support ERP systems was not only expensive, but also very complex containing many features and functions that were not of value to smaller companies.

Many vendors attempted to address this by scaling down their systems to meet the needs of the SME but this resulted in a solution that was compromised. However, systems now are specifically designed with different market types and size in mind so whether it’s a multi-national or a small company, you’ll find a system that suits!

ERP allows management to gain a clear and accurate understanding of the organisation’s financial position and performance at any time. It can reveal a full profit and loss position, how each business unit is performing in terms of how many sales they have made and what are the best and worst selling items. Management reports can be generated quickly and easily. Many directors’ of companies want to know the current financial position and how well the company is doing on a daily basis.

ERP enables people to find important financial information in one place rather than having to speak with a number of different departments who are running their own software packages that may be difficult to integrate.

Better stock control is another advantage. ERP allows companies to fully understand how many items that are in stock, which ones are the best selling items and those that are not selling. As a result, an organisation will not keep too much stock of a product that is not selling. This helps reduce the value of stock it is keeping and prevents perhaps many thousands of pounds worth of stock just sitting on the warehouse shelves!

Personnel and human resources can benefit too. Processes such as payroll and working out tax and national insurance can be automated.

Before embarking on purchasing a new ERP solution, it is important to understand exactly what you require and what you hope to achieve by implementing a new system. Be certain in terms of where and how your organisation will benefit, this decision will be supported by discussing your requirements with a number of potential suppliers. You may want to involve your accountants in the process, as it is possible that they will have an understanding in certain key areas such as the finance modules.

For a full review of ERP, the benefits for your business or to download the ebook, visit: http://www.conjungo.com/technology/erp