If there’s an effective tool for businesses, it may work for everyone, right? How does ERP for SME and startups differ? What if your business was diving in a pool of paperwork, or there’s a misunderstanding between the departments, and it takes a long time for getting any piece of information that you need right now? If you have such a situation, you strongly need an ERP system.
If you only plan to build a new business, you should predict and prevent such a case. A scalable ERP system may become a good choice for you. It will grow together with your company. We want to give you some tips on how to choose a good ERP system for startups, small and medium businesses together with samples of such systems.
What does ERP for SME mean?
Before we start looking for the difference, it’s good to know what ERP is and why we need it. Can you remember running a business a long time ago? There was a need to organize time and cost-consuming processes. You had to spend the resources on starting the processes as well as on their maintenance. The implementation of ERP in finance could reach cost efficiency and the reduction of working hours across the teams.
Let’s take a close look at the key features of ERP systems that work for a medium-sized business:
- Data Analysis
- Tracking and Visibility
ERP for small business manufacturing
There’s no big difference whether you’re a small business manufacturing company or a startup, you’re likely to have some basic set of the software for accounting such as spreadsheets for tracking your production process. While your business is growing, the amount of information that you collect is growing as well. The software should be expanding with you.
If you have an ERP platform, you have an opportunity to enhance productivity and everyday workflow. You get a tool for managing resources, tracking, tracing business and manufacturing processes from start to finish. All with one tool.
Here are the key features or modules that you may require:
- Supply chain
- Inventory control
What’s the best mini ERP system for small businesses?
IQMS Manufacturing ERP system
This ERP system is good for small businesses. Developers state that they have one database and one app that is easy to use and administer. It has a good interface. There’s no more need to have a few apps for entering and searching the data. You get access to it at any time. What are the most significant features of IQMS?
Inventory management. You get full control over the cash flow. You see the amount of raw materials, bills of materials and work orders. You can see the alerts in real time and see the sticking level. You can use the software for managing and forecasting reorders for the future. This helps you manage the production workflow and prevent any troubles that could lead to the cost loss.
Real-time data. Every piece of information is processed and displayed in real time. No more need to make notes on paper or do any other obsolete things. You can track the performance and productivity of all the teams in real time as well. You can see the production time, any unexpected downtimes, the number of parts missing and so on.
Quality. Developers provide their clients with Quality Management Software that aims at meeting all the requirements from government and regulatory organizations. You have no duplicate or unnecessary data about inventory.
EDI. This abbreviation stands for Electronic Data Interchange. It’s used for processing orders and invoicing. A lot of processes are automated. We have a shorter supply chain cycle thanks to auto-filling of requests, production time reduction and so on.
Warehouse. There’s a built-in warehouse management system that is used in real time. You get an opportunity to manage the inventory and production amount. All the information is accurate.
What do you get with a custom solution? The first thing here is the right number of features or modules that you can choose yourself. You won’t get a bunch of apps that you will have to deal with after long-term training. You can have an app for any kind of industry other than manufacturing, for example, ERP for banking industry. A custom solution should have the opportunity to scale and grow together with your business. And one more thing is that you decide how all the data will be displayed on the screen - you can make it easy to perceive.
ERP for medium-sized enterprises
We cannot say about every single business in the world that is medium-sized. Such factors as budget, timelines, processes, and resources may differ. It’s good to mind these issues when selecting an ERP platform. The first thing to think of is a list of functional requirements. You will use them while searching for the best software solution.
What can you add to the list? Here are a few of the issues that we think will be useful:
- Warehouses with a bar-code scanning module
- Bills of materials
- Planning module
- Repairs and services
- Inventory management module
- Simple return process
If you select an off-the-shelf product, it’s enough to compare a list of product features and your list of requirements. When you cooperate with a software vendor in order to build a custom product, you should discuss the development of each module not to blow up the budget.
We advise you not to overdo with the ERP system. There’s no need to create something super complicated or difficult. This system aims at simplifying and automating the processes. It shouldn't take much time for training and implementing the system.
One more thing that matters is a choice between a cloud and on-premise base. If you google this issue, you will see that a lot of people advice could-based variants. They seem to be super magic solutions that can be cost and time efficient. Are they so good? Let’s consider the most significant issues here:
- Internet connection quality
- Remote access
Standard vs Bespoke Solution
How standard are your requirements? Do they fit into a list of features that most of the product developers offer today? There are products that were developed five years ago. Can you be sure that they can fully respond to the demand in today's market? What about a complete list of functions?
Here are the things that every up-to-date software solution for SME should possess:
- Cloud. You can have a fee to pay and no need to maintain the hardware or software yourself.
- Mobile. If you don’t interact with your customers via mobile gadgets, you may lose a big number of clients.
- E-commerce. It should be easy and accessible 24/7.
- IoT. The more channels for interacting with the customers you find, the more profit you may gain.
- AI. It may be a digital assistant for your customers or anything else that may simplify the lives.
What is the best cloud ERP for SME?
It’s an open-source project that can be used as an ERP platform for SMEs. You get a pack of modules that comprise CRM, sales, inventory, manufacturing, project management, etc. You can choose those modules that you need for every team in your company.
The key feature of this solution is the reduction of manual work. All modules are compatible with each other and they act as parts of one big application. You can automate processes and keep all the functions in one place. It’s a unified platform that allows you to access the data right when you need it.
There are free and paid apps. ERP system cost can vary greatly. You can choose the ones that could meet your budget requirements and the ones that will cope with your business tasks. A great variety of apps may make you lost - you’ll spend much time until you choose all you need. Here are the top categories for the Odoo modules:
- Human Resources
- Point of sale
- Document Management
What can make you choose a custom solution for your SME? The first reason for doing this is the lack of time. If you don’t have much time for searching, viewing, analyzing and choosing all the modules you need, you will save time by hiring a software vendor. This will be your partner that will take care of the whole process from start to finish. All you need to do is describe your requirements and expectations.
The second reason for doing this is the lack of features or modules that you need. Each enterprise is unique and standard software solutions can’t meet the needs of each company. Here you discuss your needs with the software partner and the way you wish to use the ERP platform.
ERP for startups
There’s a common belief that startups don’t need ERP. The number of people that work in the company is small, there’s one or a few founders that manage the processes. There’s a myth that one person can manage everything in a startup company. However, once you face the number of tasks that you should handle, there comes a time when you have to choose a solution that will help you get over it.
What kind of software will work? A goal of using ERP platforms is assisting businesses with their everyday activities. You should evaluate how much time and other resources you spend on the processes that can be automated. If you plan to scale and you have a lot of trifle tasks that you repeat, it’s good to have an ERP app by your side.
Maximum efficiency and productivity are the two things that matter for each startup company. One of the things that ensures this is the access to the information. You can track and improve the way you interact with the customers and even with your employees. You can access this information from any device, even from your phone. You can even have a mobile ERP system.
Each of your employees can have the same access to the information or you can limit this access for some specific parts of the data. You will not spend time collecting information, analyzing it and generating reports based on it. You can automate this process and eliminate the chance of making a mistake.
No paperwork is required. No more dull spreadsheets or other similar apps. If you have a bespoke app, you can have any visual elements that you want to see. You can decide how the future software solution will display information for you and your team players.
If you plan to grow, ERP software should do the same. There are many off-the-shelf solutions that can offer you this feature. It’s better to avoid using free apps as most of them are not supposed to be scaled in the future.
What are the best small business ERP cloud solutions?
Apprise for Discrete Manufacturing
This ERP software solution offers such features as financials, manufacturing, logistics, importing, retailer compliance, demand planning, forecasting, transportation, mobile sales and so on. You get access to any piece of information in real time. You can manage all the manufacturing processes from the point of delivery to finishing operations and cost reduction. It can be accessed from Android and iOS devices.
Batch Master for Process Manufacturing
You can use this software if your startup is related to pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, cosmetic or chemical and food niche. You can use it as an addon to Sage 100, QuickBooks, SAP Business One or Microsoft Dynamics GP. This software can be used for managing inventory, entering and updating formulas, reporting, auditing, and managing documents.
Epicor for Wholesale Distribution
This ERP system is good for HVAC, electrical, fastener, petroleum, medical, plumbing and fluid power industries. You can use its apps for managing orders, making purchases, accounting, managing transportation and inventory. You can also use the built-in Business Analyser to optimize the processes. This software is compatible with Windows OS.
TradeGecko for eCommerce
It’s a cloud-based platform that acts out as a B2B e-commerce portal. You can add users to the system so they could sell wholesale to retailers with the help of custom storefronts. There are comprehensive CRM, accounting, demand forecasting, sales reporting, and demand forecasting functions. You can easily integrate it with Shopify, Amazon, Magento, WooCommerce or Bigcommerce.
How Does ERP for SME and Startups Differ?
The reason for implementing ERP software in any type of the company is meeting requirements and solving needs. To get an idea of the difference between ERP systems, it’s good to know how startups differ from SMEs.
A startup company is the one that offers a new product or service, uses new technology and innovation to bring this product or service to life. There’s no structured approach in most of the cases. They use their own experience to grow.
An SME is a company that uses the so-called old approaches to analyzing the market niche, planning and organizing the production processes and so on. They use someone else’s experience to grow.
So how does ERP for startups and SMEs differ? They don’t differ anyhow. There are no identical startups as well as there are no identical SMEs. You have your own list of tasks to be solved and goals to be reached - use them when selecting the most appropriate software solution for your business.
Why you should pick up a scalable ERP solution
There’s one thing that unites all the companies no matter what industry you are in. It’s scalability. Why do you need it? You get an opportunity to grow. You get an opportunity to reach all business goals that you think of. It’s good to keep this idea in mind all the time when you are viewing information about ERP solutions.
How can you scale off-the-shelf products? If you cannot get in touch with the software developers and ask them about any updates or solve any problems, it’s better to avoid buying such a product. Of course, you have an opportunity to build a custom solution that will be as scalable as you need this.
How can you pick up a scalable custom ERP solution? Here you need to hire a reliable software vendor that has experience in building such applications. You can take a look at the projects built by Diceus to see how custom apps look like. If you decide to have a custom ERP app for your company, we’ll be happy to answer all your questions and discuss this issue with you.