For today’s small business, technology is the great equalizer. In the past, small organizations didn’t have the resources to invest in large scale technology solutions but in the modern world, these solutions are available to all at the click of a button. This is a tremendous advantage for a small enterprise, allowing even the most resource-limited company the ability to compete with the largest of competitors.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
The most audacious level of technology solutions would generally be in the Enterprise Resource Planning sphere. An ERP at its most fundamental level, is the integration of all business processes into a single platform. Essentially, everything you do would have a module in your software system from sales to inventory management to accounting to payroll. Often, ERPs will include other tools such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Business Intelligence (BI) and eCommerce integration. Common ERPs include platforms such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, SAP and NetSuite.
Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)
WMS technology has become the standard for any business with product distribution needs. While these systems generally do not include the basic operational or accounting functions, they are specifically designed for your “back of the house” inventory management. These applications provide visibility and management for every step of your warehousing operations. Examples include Seldat’s WMS360 and HighJump.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Sales and Marketing organizations especially love CRMs, which allow them to manage and analyze customer interactions throughout the customer lifecycle. They can be used to great effect to stay in touch with your customers and keep all their most important information at your fingertips. While many may not be familiar with Zoho, most people have probably heard of Salesforce.
Accounting software is something that every serious business needs. While many businesses simply may not be ready for a full ERP, there’s no reason in this day and age to NOT have accounting software. Even the smallest startups have access to powerful, cloud-based applications like QuickBooks Online and Xero for a lower monthly cost than many of us would spend on lunch.
Business Intelligence (known to most as “dashboards”) provide attractive, high level insights into your business operations. Many have the ability to easily integrate with your existing accounting software or ERP and like any good software applications, are inexpensive and available in the cloud. See Qlik, Microsoft’s Power BI and Tableau for examples.
While not the solution to every problem, technology is your friend and can, at the very least, improve most functions and processes that you rely on to service your customers. No matter your needs, the solutions are virtually limitless. Gone are the days of spending incredible sums of money to have software custom-written for your enterprise needs. The advancement of the internet and cloud computing have opened the door for the availability of business applications that are no further away than a search on your preferred search engine.