Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems form the backbone of today’s largest suppliers, manufacturers, vendors, and retailers. These software solutions allow companies to keep track of all their core processes from the same convenient place, making it easier to manage business performance and make data-driven decisions.
The problem is that not all ERP systems are created equal, nor are every business’s needs the same when it comes to features. As a result, it’s impossible to choose just one, or even a small handful, of ERP systems to highlight as the best ones available in today’s markets. Instead, this article will provide a top ERP systems guide to point business owners and company stakeholders in the right direction so they can make better decisions.
Why Businesses Need ERP
Deciding which ERP solution will be the best fit for a particular company requires understanding how it will help the business succeed. ERP software stores data across all departments, which means it can be used to streamline workflows and improve processes in areas of the business as diverse as accounting, manufacturing, and human resource management.
Before switching to specialized ERP software, many businesses rely on separate management solutions for each department. The inability to integrate different aspects of the company’s operation and view data from across departments makes it more difficult for businesses to grow. Switching to specialized ERP software improves visibility into business processes, reduces training requirements, minimizes human error, and keeps the costs of maintaining software solutions low.
Deciding which ERP system will be the best fit for a particular use case requires understanding what general features are available and how they can be implemented to improve different business processes. The best ERP systems always divide key features into different modules to make it easier to stay organized. Depending on a company’s role in the supply chain, those modules can include the following.
Finance and Accounting
Every enterprise-level company can benefit from improving its approach to handling finances. The accounting modules in today’s most popular ERP systems generally make that easier through a combination of automating collections, creating an audit trail, monitoring cash positions, and facilitating payment processing, scheduling, and settlements.
Features like payroll, time and attendance tracking, resource allocation, and organization management all fall under the general category of back-office tasks. Just about all ERP systems account for these needs, with many adding things like purchase orders and requisition, sourcing, and warranty management to the mix.
Manufacturers tend to need slightly more specialized ERP systems. Manufacturing resource planning (MRP) modules typically encompass everything from demand forecasts to bills of materials, waste management, quality assurance, and more.
Logistics companies also require more specialized functionality in ERP systems. Many companies along the supply chain need inventory reporting, tracking, pricing, and ordering features. Logistics companies also need in-transit and inventory forecasting, picking and packing automation systems, and more in-depth supply chain management features.
Whether companies are B2B or consumer-facing, they need front-office tools to manage customer relationships. That might mean centralized contact and account management, field service dispatch, storefront design tools, a ticketing system, or other features depending on the company.
The Easiest Way to Find a Suitable System
The easiest way to find the best ERP system for a specific application is to compare what’s available on the market directly. Take advantage of tools like comparison charts, buyer’s guides, and consulting services to make the decision easier.