One of ERP’s main selling points is the wide variety of features that are available across software solutions. Because the main premise of an ERP is how these various modules interact with one another to generate actionable insights and perform business functions, it’s important to check and see whether an ERP vendor includes the basic and specialized features that you need to help streamline your business operations.
In addition to features that are commonly included with an ERP system “out of the box”, there are many add-ons or modules that can be implemented based on your business needs. Otherwise, some vendors offer a modular system, meaning you never have to choose a solution with “core” capabilities you don’t need. The modularity of ERP software is a major trend in the ERP industry and allows users to configure solutions that assist in day-to-day operations for their specific business.
Anderson raises another point:
. . .the advantage of this modularity and configurability is that it allows smaller companies to step into ERP slowly, yet most enterprise resource planning systems are scalable to grow with their business.”
Some commonly requested configurable modules include:
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The accounting module can help you reduce the amount of time that your accountants spend on tedious tasks such as manually inputting receipt information from expense reports. With an automated and integrated accounting system, you can perform actions such as automatically sending invoices to clients with outstanding balances. With this example, the integrated solution would pull from customer history to automatically fetch contact information and amount owed before sending an invoice to the client. This module is especially helpful because it may look at the actual operating cost to determine profitability and forecast potential revenue growth. Integration to payroll software is commonly used within accounting solutions to manage employee payroll.
A human resources module can help you keep track of candidate applications, employee PTO and bonus allocation among other tasks. A good example of how this tool would integrate with other modules is that you could automatically reimburse employees for extra PTO leftover at the end of the year by integrating this system with your accounting program. This function would work by automatically looking at leftover PTO days for employees across the company, calculating how much is owed and then using employee bank account information to submit payment.
ERP software is incredibly helpful to manufacturing and distribution companies. These tools are multi-faceted and can help streamline many aspects of the manufacturing process. For example, a tool within this suite might be able to determine the reordering point of materials needed for the production of goods. This could be measured based on factors such as how popular the item is, the amount of the resource currently available on hand and projected time it would take for the material to ship. Therefore, if you are projected to run out of lumber on Thursday and it typically takes three days to arrive, your materials would be automatically reordered on Monday.
Shelly Gore, CEO and Cofounder of A Bigger View, offers her insight on a manufacturing ERP tool that she’s noticed has been highly requested this year:
As a specialist in ERP for manufacturing, I have seen a rapid increase in demand for remote monitoring to keep workers productive while maintaining social distancing. To this end, an ideal ERP system enables mobile technologies such as scanners and tablets to report inventory receipts, movements and consumption, as well as the production of finished goods in real-time from the production floor. All other departments, such as sales, purchasing and planning can now sell, buy and plan with confidence in the most current data.”
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CRM tools are great for boosting a customer’s relationship with your company and ensuring that their experience is flawless. Customer relationship management can analyze customer browsing and purchasing history to send them targeted ads for products that they may be interested in. It can also keep customers “in the know” as to the shipment status of their order. Think about the Domino’s Pizza screen that shows exactly where your meal is at in the baking process. Buyers appreciate updates on the status of their purchases, as it indicates legitimacy and customer care.
Automated inventory tracking is a commonly requested ERP module. This tool can predict when an item will go out of stock and automatically reorder products based on this estimation. It may also provide recommendations as to which inventory items to place next to one another based on customer purchasing habits in order to streamline the distribution process.
Outside of these core ERP features, there’s a wide range of other modules and add-ons available today. Specialized features can offer industry-specific functionality, and add-ons typically offer advanced, specialized technologies. For example, a manufacturing business may desire order management capabilities. Here are more examples:
- Sales Management
- Marketing Management
- Distribution Management
- Reporting and Analytics
- Financial Management
- Compliance Management
- Integrations for Shipping, Social Media, Email and Much More
Check out our list of the six main ERP components for more information on these key features.
Identifying an ERP with the right functionality for your business involves gathering your requirements and comparing solutions. To learn more about this process, read our ERP Selection Process and Criteria article, which details the simple four-step process. As you’re browsing and shortlisting vendors, you can read our Top Cloud ERP list to explore the most highly revered solutions. Lastly, reference our ERP Implementation article to get started on adopting your ERP.
Next, we’re going to explain how ERP is deployed. Deployment is another important factor to consider when selecting an ERP; you should review your requirements to decide which method is best suited for you.
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