Business savvy entrepreneurs continually achieve success through unremitting hard work, training, skill-building and practice in order to stay on top of their game. The same should hold true for your critical business tools like your ERP or CRM system. Getting these systems implemented and your staff trained are just the first steps in an ongoing effort to remain ahead of your competition. Here are three areas that you – and your software vendor – must focus on in order to remain competitive in the market over the long-term.
Plan for the future
Is your current ERP or CRM software vendor committed to delivering on product updates and enhancements throughout the year? When is the last time you looked at the product roadmap? To ensure a successful future with any business system it is critical for you to understand where the system is heading.
It is easy to fall into a rut and continue using a poorly supported or outdated ERP / CRM system that you and your employees are comfortable with. However, by sticking to your legacy software you’re missing out on cutting-edge features and new functionality that allow you to gain a competitive edge in the market.
As your business grows, the number of technologies and applications that grow along with your firm continue to expand. Part of your plan for the future should include considering future integrations for your ERP system such as Business Intelligence and employee productivity tools. When your ERP doesn’t effectively communicate with other systems it creates data siloes and laborious manual processes.
Take it to the cloud
For many small- and medium-sized businesses, the move to the cloud is done for obvious business reasons—the first one being lower up-front costs.
But another significant benefit is speed to implementation. A 2014 survey by the industry analyst firm Mint Jutras reported that “respondents with SaaS implementations reached their first go-live milestone 19% faster than those with on-premise solutions”. Both of these benefits are possible because cloud computing eliminates the need for purchasing and installing hardware and software.
Additional long-term benefits of the cloud include:
- Anywhere, anytime access to information by staff, customers and partners, since all applications are designed to run on mobile devices
- No staff time required to maintain or upgrade hardware as the company grows
- Data is safely backed up with a disaster recovery plan
Keep your eye on the prize
Ask to see a “Product Roadmap” of recent updates and future enhancements. How can a vendor help you move forward in the right direction if they themselves cannot move their own product in a positive direction? You should see it as a red flag If it has been a while since any new product enhancements have emerged from a vendor.
The modernization of your ERP or CRM system is really only the first step to optimizing your business processes. With the right training and focus, your business can realize benefits like streamlined operations, improved communications and more efficient workflows that free up your staff to identify and take advantage of new opportunities.