For many organisations, lockdown has driven digital transformation. But undergoing transformation during such uncertain times is challenging. Finding cost efficiencies is critical, even if investment in new technology is required. Businesses need to stay very flexible and agile, ready to scale up or down their operations as customer demand evolves.
Many SMEs are harnessing cloud-based ERP (enterprise resource planning) technology to adapt and survive. Cloud-based ERP involves more than just accounting or financial management software, it also integrates other business areas such as inventory, HR and CRM into a single hub. Here are four ways ERP is helping SMEs gain efficiency and adapt and grow their operations:
Efficiency gained in admin and routine tasks
The automation provided by cloud-based ERP results in significant cost and time savings in admin, as well as a reduction in human error. Logistics firm Capital Transport was struggling to manually manage the admin over 8,000 consignments a day. It couldn’t manage inter-company transactions and reconciliation was very time-consuming. By adopting ERP, the company was able to save a huge amount of admin hours and instead invest extra time into growing their business.
Better reporting and visibility
To adapt quickly and respond to changing market demands, businesses need insight into what’s actually going on with their operations and what their financial position is at any moment. Quarterly reporting is often too slow. Employment services provider CVGT experienced rapid growth and was losing control of purchase orders. ERP gave the company the ability to monitor cash flow and pay suppliers on time, as well as generate clear, accurate and timely reporting that meets government compliance requirements.
Ability to rapidly scale
At some point, a business outgrows basic spreadsheets as its operations become larger and more complex. This is where cloud-based ERP can play a key role in enabling fast growth. Pro Seafoods wanted to diversify its product line and expand operations nationally, but was weighed down with increasing manual administration as customer numbers grew. With ERP the company could manage its entire supply chain, goods and customers in one place and streamline processes. Admin hours were cut by 75 per cent, with the time saved instead put into marketing and sales, resulting in 400 per cent customer-base growth.
Integration with other systems
As suppliers, partners and customers go digital, being able to plug-into their systems becomes increasingly critical. Cloud-based ERP enables integrations with different payment systems as well as other platforms and app suites, such as Microsoft Office. Trilogy Funds Management, a non-bank lender, needed a system that would provide more detailed reporting but could also integrate with existing tools. With ERP, Trilogy Funds Management gained the ability to integrate their other systems and modules and expand their business.
Driving business insight
With cloud-based ERP, businesses can get access to real-time information and make much more accurately, timely decisions. Richer, more immediate data helps generate vital business insights. Youth development program provider Creating Chances was using an outdated system and a maze of individual spreadsheets to manage invoices and customer details. By deploying an advanced, cloud-based ERP system the company was able to drill down on spending and ensure compliance. Creating Chances can now make informed decisions about where it can save on resourcing and equipment, as well as get the deeper data it needed for future strategy and decisions.
Cloud-based ERP software is a game-changer for many SMEs, enabling them to access everything they need in a single hub. In an era of remote work and the uncertainty of COVID-19, it also means that a business can be managed from anywhere, with team members collaborating effectively and doing business better with suppliers, partners and customers.
Jonathan Attia, Managing Director, Wiise