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The ABCs of ERPs: a guide to everything you need to know 

The ABCs of ERPs: a guide to everything you need to know 

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Karin Jones, Business Applications Business Group Lead at  Microsoft South Africa, speaks to Intelligent SME.tech about how Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems can help small businesses with workflow, data and cloud capabilities.  

Businesses today need to change and evolve, particularly against the backdrop of a tough operating climate, which places new demands on the business. Not least of these demands is accounting, business management or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems that struggle to keep up with the pace of change and emerging business requirements. 

Many small-to-medium-size businesses, in particular – who act as catalysts of economic growth through job creation and currently make up more than 98% of organisations employing between 50% and 60% of the workforce across all sectors in South Africa – are being forced to rapidly adapt to survive and thrive in the face of the challenges of current economic conditions.  

The truth is that these businesses simply cannot afford to have disparate and disconnected legacy systems that don’t integrate effectively with one another and which fail to meet their business needs because of silos that act as barriers to decision-making. 

To keep up with rapidly changing needs and market challenges, these organisations need a flexible, integrated, scalable and end-to-end business management and ERP solution.  

Although ERP is often a dirty word for the teams tasked with its implementation because of typically expensive, lengthy and complex deployments, the silver lining is that the new generation of ERP solutions provide the scalability, adaptability and mobility offered by cloud-based solutions. 

Why is now the time to invest in the right ERP?  

If your existing on-premises or legacy systems are battling to keep up with the demands of the current climate and hampering your ability to transform, adapt and respond to business and market challenges, then there is no better time to invest in an integrated, cloud-based solution as a driver of business growth and agility.   

Some of the key factors business owners and decision-makers should consider around ERPs are:  

Streamlining deployments 

One of the main reasons that business leaders hesitate to implement new ERP systems is because of a traditionally lengthy, costly and complex deployment process which required specialised skills from partners and vendors before businesses could even start using the solutions. Now, however, there are end-to-end, cloud-based business management systems and solutions available that can be customised to meet unique business or industry-specific needs.  

Initial deployments on a solution, like Dynamics 365 Business Central, for example, can take as little as seven days because of a setup wizard that enables a quick start and grow approach based on specific needs. Retail, which was placed under severe pressure at the onset of the pandemic, is one of the industries that has benefitted from this rapid start and adaptability. 

Integrating systems, workloads and data flows 

Disconnected systems act as a barrier to business success because they disrupt the business and workflows and valuable information and data are siloed, making it challenging to make critical business decisions. Investing in an integrated, end-to-end business management solution will help companies connect their financials, sales, service and operations to streamline business processes into a single workload, optimising and opening up data flows, increasing productivity, improving customer interactions and ultimately enabling business leaders to make better decisions. 

Harnessing the benefits of cloud capabilities 

The value of cloud-based solutions is immense. These solutions are known for offering security, scalability, adaptability, flexibility and mobility, as well as connecting people, processes, and data for a complete and clear view of the business and its needs. Tapping into the power of the cloud means that businesses can ensure continuity, which is critical in the face of ongoing uncertainty and a challenging operating environment, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses.    

Many businesses currently find themselves at a crossroads, aware that they need to transform to respond more quickly to business, industry and market challenges but often hesitant to invest in and implement a business management solution. 

However, the ever more unpredictable and changing world is going to make it essential to move to an ERP solution, such as Business Central, which starts and grows easily, is tailored to unique business and industry needs and brings together all systems and processes with an end-to-end view that enables smarter decision-making, improved productivity and better customer service. 

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