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Small Business Software: Is An ERP Software The Right Fit For Your Business?

Does your growing business need business management software? What makes a good ERP software for small and medium sized businesses? What are the benefits of an ERP software for your small business? These are the questions that need to be answered in order to help you make the best decision for your small business. 

It’s understandable to question the necessity of an ERP for your small business. Many business owners are still stuck on the fact that ERP systems used to only be feasible and practical for Fortune 500 sized companies. However, this is no longer the case. But before making any big decisions, it’s important to consider the following: How much can a business management software benefit your small business?

How To Make The Smart Choice

There are many areas of ERP software that your small business will find useful. Whether it’s in the form of customer portals, accounting, ease of implementation, or sales, the outcome of your success with small business ERP software will vary depending on how well you choose the right ERP software and how well it is implemented into your business.

Thanks to the increasing popularity and demand for business management software, there are many more options for small business software than most people initially realize. In recent years, there has been significant growth in ERP software to fit the needs and sizes of any business, which is why an ERP software might just be the best solution for your small business as opposed to piecing together many different software solutions for different features.

However, it’s not just just about the quantity of services provided by a small business software but rather, whether it fits your business needs and/or is moldable enough to fit those needs.

Costs and Considerations

Every business is unique, so the cost of a small business software matters in terms of what features a business can afford to pay for. However, among the best small business ERP options, accounting, centralized document management, customer/vendor management portals, mobile compatibility, CRM and sales, and inventory management are some of the things to look for in how an ERP software can fit with your business needs and with the best small business ERPs, can be included with one, low monthly cost.

The Benefits of Small Business Software

A Single, Streamlined System

The best thing about small business software is that it’s a  single streamlined system. This is useful for a variety of reasons: better organization, faster updates and access to information, saving time and money, better data security, and better communication. It erases the needs for too much manual work that can divert your focus when you should be focusing on important factors that grow your business.

Flexibility Of Use

The great thing about a small business software is that it provides flexible solutions to issues such as needing information outside of the office, accessing information on a multitude of technological devices, erasing the need for messy papers that can easily get lost beneath the rising piles. Additionally, it is easier to share information through a system where everyone has permissioned access.. No matter what products or services your business provides, there is no doubt that all businesses benefit from using a cloud-based business management system.

Better Customer Service

It’s not an exaggeration to say that good customer service might be the only thing that a lot of customers look for when deciding between one business or another. With the best business management software, the ease of access to customer information, including purchases, questions, requests, etc, are all easy to access with a centralized database. According to The Harvard Business Review, “…customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.” Once again, customer service is often the distinguishing feature from one business to another.

Ensure A Smooth Transition With Your Small Business Software

In order for your employees to use the new small business software properly, sufficient training must be provided. This way, you and your employees are using the full benefits that come with ERP software. Being aware of your team and providing them resources to train through the new changes will build teamwork, confidence, and allow for full and better uses of the resources provided by a small business software.

The Takeaway

While it takes careful planning and consideration to jump into purchasing and implementing a small business software, being aware of the diverse and various ERP software systems to choose from can ease those worries. Keep in mind, choosing the right software to fit the needs and budget of your business and being aware of the costs to maintain success in the long-term is key. 

Does Your Business Need A Zoho Alternative?

In the current business management software market, Zoho produces a variety of applications—some bundled into an all-in-one suite—that provide a variety of CRM, accounting, and other business management software solutions. 

Though many businesses benefit from the suite of products that Zoho offers, is your business getting the most possible value that it can from Zoho? Disconnected apps and separate systems can be inefficient and expensive. While Zoho One offers all of these apps under one account, they are still a suite of individual applications rather than a single, all-in-one application.

Business needs vary by industry, size, and a host of other factors. Even businesses within the same industry need different solutions, or solutions custom-tailored to their specific needs.

Zoho and its vast suite of applications work well for businesses that are considerably large in size, and some smaller, growing businesses have found Zoho to be suitable for their needs. But when it comes to your business, do you want a solution that merely checks all the boxes or a solution that is custom-tailored to your business needs in order to thrive?

In this article, we’ll cover the advantages and disadvantages of Zoho and what benefits your business might see from exploring Zoho alternatives that are on the market.

What Is Zoho?

According to Zoho’s profile on Capterra, Zoho is a suite of 40+ applications with complementary mobile apps that allow a business to reach customers, grow sales, manage accounting, and increase workflow efficiency.

Zoho One, the package that includes all of the various Zoho applications, is billed as a way for users to be streamlined and connected by utilizing a single login to connect to all of the different applications. 

In terms of pricing, Zoho offers a variety of plans based on the total revenue and number of employees. In addition, pricing can vary drastically depending on which modules are selected. Some estimates of Zoho’s pricing suggest that smaller businesses can expect to start their plan at around $14/user per month while the highest tier package is $57/user per month.

Advantages of a Zoho Alternative

zoho alternative

While Zoho, Zoho One, Zoho CRM, and the rest of the Zoho suite contain useful tools that help businesses manage their products and assess profitability, they’re not always the right fit for every business. 

Zoho Alternatives are Affordable for SMBs

The cumulative nature of micropayments coupled with the à la carte model indicates that paying for individual apps and functionalities can get expensive over time. Sure, it’s possible to only pay for certain apps, bringing the price down considerably. But when it comes to managing all of the mission-critical segments of a business, just a few apps and functionalities may not cut it.

For growing businesses, getting the most value for their money is more important than ever. Some Zoho alternative platforms shy away from the application/module model in order to give growing businesses all of the tools they need to run their entire business, all in a single connected software platform.

Zoho Alternatives Provide Elite Customer Support

When it comes to features to prioritize in a Zoho alternative, even non-technical features are important to consider. For example, finding a Zoho alternative that maintains an elite standard of customer service (at no or low additional cost) is crucial.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) concept with icons. Production, human resources, inventory, CRM, sales, service, distribution, business process.

No matter the quality of the software, errors always occur. And in reality, users will always have questions about the system they are working in.

Zoho offers several support plans for an additional fee, which can get very expensive for growing businesses. In addition, some Zoho modules—notably Zoho CRM—have below-average customer support rankings while other, all-in-one business management systems have stellar customer support scores

Though it may be tempting to opt to go with a large-scale platform, it is often the case that many smaller, all-in-one business management software companies provide better—and 100% U.S.-based—customer support.

Customizations Are A Breeze With A Zoho Alternative

Every business is unique. With large-scale, widely used applications such as Zoho, customizations can be difficult to implement. While not always the case, some Zoho customizations require some level of coding.

For small and growing businesses, having to code (or having to pay for coding services) can skew drastically out of budget. Beyond that, having a single, dedicated, familiar customer champion working with your team can be the difference between successful software adoption and the painful realization that you need to rethink your initial software partner selection.

A Unified Business Management Platform

The post-Pandemic work world has changed and continues to evolve at a fervent pace, and technology has never been more crucial to the success of every business. The importance of having top-shelf, all-in-one business management software has never been greater.

zoho alternative

Running a successful business is challenging enough when your technology stack is running smoothly and efficiently. Speedbumps like erroneous data, complex user interfaces, and technology that simply does not allow for ample, on-time communication only make things tougher.

While the Zoho suite’s individual applications perform very well on their own, it turns out their biggest drawback is that they do exist on their own, not fully integrated with one another. Not only do additional modules require additional investment it also requires more advanced technical support, additional time spent learning how to properly integrate data, and additional time spent ensuring accuracy across multiple systems. 

Having all of your business processes—accounting, inventory, sales, marketing, projects, HR, operations, and more—working seamlessly as a complete, unified software platform will improve your business’s overall performance by increasing efficiency, accuracy, and scalability.

Striven – The All-In-One Business Management Software

Out of the numerous Zoho alternatives on the market today, Striven has been recognized as one of the industry leaders in terms of affordability, quality of customer support, and overall ease of use. Check out what everyday users have to say about Striven.

While some large-scale business management software providers like Acumatica may be a good match for large-scale, Fortune 500-sized companies, Striven understands that not every company needs a system that’s quite as technologically bloated—and one that doesn’t require breaking the bank.

The importance of having all of a business’s core processes housed in a single platform has never been greater. Instead of hoping that various software modules can successfully and efficiently interact with one another, it’s important that businesses are able to view everything that they need from a single dashboard. (Hope has rarely been a successful business strategy.)

For small- and medium-sized businesses to be as successful as their large-scale counterparts, this level of visibility allows businesses to harness the insights they need to corner a larger share of their respective market. Remember, technology is a strategic competitive advantage for any business regardless of size.

Wrapping Up

Software needs to be flexible and anti-fragile. It’s true in terms of business just as it’s true in terms of technology. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to success—every business and business plan needs a solution to fit their specific needs.

Many small and growing businesses have a tendency to lean towards a product like Zoho based on its global reputation. But, it’s important to recognize that just because this product works at such a large scale doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right fit on a smaller scale.

Striven provides the same high-quality software and customer support as some of the larger ERP names on the market while being more affordable for the average small- and medium-sized business. 

ERP Safety and Cybersecurity: What You Need To Know

These days, it seems like a rarity that cybersecurity doesn’t make at least one headline in the daily news cycle. More accurately, these headlines are primarily instances where there is a drastic lack of cybersecurity.

U.S. Government agencies fail to meet even basic cybersecurity standards.” 

The colonial pipeline attack: rethinking cyber regulations on utility companies.” 

Ransomware: international cooperation is needed to curb these cybersecurity threats.”

In today’s environment where employees are working remotely as well as geographically scattered, security has become everyone’s job—not just the responsibility of the IT department. Every employee of every sized business, from interns to CEOs, SMEs to Fortune 500 companies, needs to increase their cybersecurity diligence. 

Many people treat their cybersecurity responsibilities as they would a recommendation from their dentist—being instructed to floss more and cut back on sweets often falls on deaf ears. 

Without proper cybersecurity hygiene (creating strong passwords, avoiding phishing emails, using outdated software, etc) your business and your bottom line are in danger of rot and decay. 

Fortunately, there are technological solutions that provide businesses and users with vast safeguards against malicious actors. Namely, cloud-based all-in-one ERP software

How To Maintain ERP Safety and Security 

erp cloud security business management software

As far as software is concerned, cloud ERP software is resoundingly safer than traditional data centers. In fact, the use of cloud infrastructure generally results in 60% fewer security incidents.

In reality, it is the usage, policies, and mechanisms of control that fail—not the technology itself. 

Jay Heiser, Vice President Analyst at Gartner, has some poignant advice for CIOs in the position of managing their cloud ERP software:

“CIOs need to ensure that their security teams are not holding back cloud initiatives with unsubstantiated cloud security worries. Exaggerated fears can result in lost opportunity and inappropriate spending.”

He suggests that instead of asking “Is the cloud secure?” executives should be asking “Am I using the cloud securely?”

Similarly, a car manufacturer would not be to blame in the event of an accident where the driver was speeding excessively, using their phone, and not wearing a seat belt.

Let’s take a look at the most crucial areas and aspects of ERP software that require the most attention to detail in terms of maintaining network security.

Stay Uniform

As software complexity increases, the possibility of errors increases along with it. For businesses with over 200 employees, some ERPs provide over 800,000 software customizations that can be controlled by users. 

In order to combat this, it’s important to establish data management protocols within your organization and assign access accordingly. Onboarding, training, offboarding, and continuous internal software support will only benefit your organization.

Conduct Internal Audits

Audits are an important part of any well-oiled business, so why wouldn’t the same be true for your software? While the best ERPs adhere to strict security standards, it’s important to conduct audits of how employees and other users under your organization’s umbrella are using the system.

Are their passwords secure? Are they accessing data from unsecured networks? Who has access and the ability to change system settings? 

These questions and more are some that you will want to address and answer internally—every business and every industry has different needs, rules, and regulations.

Utilize Software Training and Support Staff

Your employees—in this case, your ERP users—are at the heart of everything your business does. Security is no exception. If users are cavalier about company data, protocols, and necessary procedures, it can lead to fiscal headaches and wasted time. 

All too often, ERP software systems are implemented without an expert support team. Having a savvy support staff is crucial for successful employee adoption of the software.

Though management may be able to point to the vast benefits of ERP software (cost savings, better communication, improved document management, etc.) it takes a true expert in the software itself to successfully, fully onboard employees.

Benefits of ERP Software: Built-In Security Standards

ERP software is full of all kinds of benefits—risk mitigation is a major one. No piece of technology on earth is entirely invulnerable to malicious activity, but ERP software provides a myriad of ways to protect your business’s valuable data and processes. 

One of the brilliant aspects of ERP software is that it’s able to provide a wide range of solutions to a wide range of logistical challenges. The “all-in-one” nature of ERP software keeps businesses fully connected and integrated—in turn, this allows businesses to address problems with a bird’s eye view, removing the guesswork and wasted energy that often accompanies the problem-solving process.

all in one erp software benefits security

Cloud Security

Compared to other data storage methods that have been prominent in the past (most notably local servers and analog data storage) the cloud is a resoundingly safer solution.

It’s a tried-and-true method that businesses continue to invest in—in the first quarter of 2023, cloud services infrastructure spending increased to $41.8 billion on a global level. Compared to the same period in 2020, this was a 35% year-on-year growth and a 5% quarter-on-quarter rise.

While cloud security as an industry has proven to be safe, scalable, and cost-efficient, it’s important to know who bears the technical responsibility of hosting your data. 

Does your cloud infrastructure provider delegate some hosting responsibilities to third-party organizations? Is your cloud ERP implementation team the same organization that actually does the work of storing your data?

Ideally, none of these questions will ever actually matter because your data will be forever safe and secure. Nevertheless, it’s important to do your due diligence on every organization your data is affiliated with. Most of the time, these answers can all be obtained from a single conversation with your ERP provider.

Frequent System Updates

Software updates serve an important purpose across the world’s entire technological landscape. And, no, it’s not to annoy you with a loading screen that lingers a bit too long for your liking.

Installing security software update

Software updates are vital—they patch security flaws, protect data, and improve system performance. When it comes to ERP software, updates are frequent and full of substance.

Data Redundancy

What’s the only thing more important than keeping your data safe? Keeping your data safe—twice, three times, or more. 

Cloud storage capabilities that are baked into the best ERP software systems allow users to fully access and update data sets while keeping up-to-the-second backups safe and secure. Gone are the days that it’s required to make multiple physical copies or even manually copy and paste documents. 

With a staggering chunk of the American workforce still working remotely—often on personal, security-poor workstations—it’s even more important to have enterprise-level redundancy measures in place. Data redundancy is a central focus of every ERP system. 

Data Encryption

Data redundancy is a crucial piece of the cybersecurity puzzle. Data encryption is an equally large piece, too. The higher the quality of the encryption measures, the higher the quality of protection that your business will enjoy. Fortunately, ERP systems maintain exceptionally high-security standards.


By nearly every conceivable metric, cyber-attacks and cybersecurity incidents have increased over the last several years. The pandemic has led to an aggressive explosion of this pre-existing uptrend.

cloud-based ERP data encryption

Disconnected software systems with vastly differing security protocols simply do not cut it anymore—ERP software provides a lasting, secure solution to cybersecurity. 

Installing An Administrator

ERP software needs to be safe and secure every single time it’s used. This isn’t a request or a “wishlist” item—it’s a requirement. In all reality, safety and security is just the beginning. 

ERP software is built to serve people of all roles and responsibilities. The best way to ensure that every user is able to operate in an efficient and safe manner? Choose an ERP with a detailed permissions-based system. 

Some employees will need more access than others. It’s important to be able to have varying roles with differing capabilities while all working under one, unified software umbrella. 

Now you may be thinking “Even if I have a tech-savvy employee, they’re still new to using this ERP system too. How can they be functional administrators?” The answer to this question: training and consulting sessions with the ERP’s native support staff.

The support staff of an ERP system is there to help you get the most out of your software. They’ll answer questions, offer advice on best practices, generate guides and other instructional materials, and so on and so forth. They’ll be able to provide the crucial assistance you need during the initial adoption process

They’ll be able to show your organization how to properly assign and edit permissions for every employee, where and when it’s safe to access data, and how to protect your system against phishing attacks, unauthorized user access, and other malicious activities.

Just like a great coach, they’ll be there to guide you while allowing you to learn and explore on your own. 

Modern ERPs are Safe, Secure, and Reliable

Hi-tech cloud software security

Cybersecurity is the framework that ERP software relies upon. Without extended and continuous security measures in place, the benefits that ERP software brings to businesses are all for naught. 

But security efforts don’t end with lines of code—it takes the effort of all of your employees in addition to your ERP’s support staff day in and day out. 

ERP software sourced from cloud computing technology is the gold standard of enterprise data security, and you and your employees need to be the gold standard in making sure safety protocols and precautions are implemented and followed.

Integrated Business Software: What You Need To Know

Every business has a lot of moving parts. Whether your business manufactures goods in a factory or provides in-home services to customers, it is equally important to have a unified and clear picture of all of the components of your operation. 

As you work towards attaining a more all-encompassing view of your operations, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of projects and tasks. In other words, sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees

One skill that can be useful in tackling an abundant and overflowing to-do list? Delegation. 

When you hear the term “delegation” you are probably imagining handing off work to your employees. While this will still be true, some of the most powerful delegations are not ones you task to your employees—it’s the work you hand off to your integrated business management software.

integrated business software

Delegating tasks to your integrated business software provides some of the same benefits as traditional delegation. You (and your employees) will have time to focus on higher-level tasks, it will open up time to learn new skills and conduct market research, and it will improve efficiency across the board.

Even for tasks that still require a deft human touch, integrated business software provides a tangible procedural advantage that improves operational success and efficiency across the board.   

What Is Integrated Business Software?

Integrated business software is a seamless collection of solutions, processes, and data. Accounting modules, customer records, and smart calendars are just some of the previously isolated functionalities and features that integrated business software unifies. 

integrated business software system

Notably, business needs vary by size, industry, and even season of the year. One key element of integrated business software is that it’s adaptive and elastic to the nuances of industry needs—while one business is looking for an alternative to their existing accounting software, another will focus on generating automated sales reports

Integrated business software handles it all, providing connectivity and clarity throughout every facet of your business.

On the highest level, it ensures that you, your customers, and your employees have immediate, accurate, and complete access to all pertinent information. It detangles and connects previously disconnected silos within your business so that processes can run smoother and more efficiently than before. 

Challenges Caused By Disconnected Software Systems

Without an integrated business management software system, businesses typically rely on a handful of disconnected software suites to get the job done.

Even if you’re primarily using standard, powerful spreadsheet and storage software systems, there are still issues that arise. The tricky part? Many of these issues often don’t come to light until it’s too late.

Let’s take a look at some of the operational issues and inefficiencies caused by disconnected software systems:

Delayed Data and Reporting

Having accurate data is good—but having accurate, real-time, and easily accessible data is great. 

Without accurate, timely, and complete information, businesses suffer each year—it’s estimated that businesses lose 20% of their potential revenue due to poor-quality data. From marketing to sales to inventory management, bad data can have a profoundly negative impact on your bottom line.

Wasted Productivity

Every minute spent having to correct an error or reiterate a piece of information’s authenticity is a minute wasted. Businesses that are aiming for rapid growth can’t afford to waste this much time.

If your business is using software systems that don’t communicate with each other, it sets into motion a cascade of worsening problems—extra time spent accessing and parsing data sets leads to errors in data entry, which delays reporting time and adds unnecessary hours to your payroll. In turn, it takes time away from more important tasks.

When your employees are entering data in multiple locations, manually sifting through invoices to address a single customer’s issue, or constantly having to check back in from the field, progress suffers. Processes like these can be automated by integrated business software.

Increased Cost

As business owners know all too well, unexpected costs always have a way of dipping into—or breaking—your budget. 

Some costs of having disconnected software systems are obvious and upfront. As in, paying for numerous software solutions and the corresponding upgrades, repairs, and support. 

Other costs are more indirect—multiple software systems mean multiple interfaces, which typically require additional employee training and time spent learning the nuances of each. This leads to more time spent learning how to transfer data between each and time spent correcting errors that occur during this process. 

This wasted time eats into productivity which could be spent on more productive and profitable tasks.

Benefits of Having Integrated Business Management Software

All businesses have growing pains. It’s natural. But as a business owner, it’s important to recognize the difference between when you’re simply adjusting to a learning curve rather than when it’s time to rethink and reshape inefficient processes and procedures.

erp business management software hr

These are the main ways that integrated business software will help alleviate ongoing procedural woes:

Increased Visibility

Your data needs to be universally accessible—one person on a certain device in a particular location shouldn’t be the sole arbiter of your data. Sure, not everyone in your organization will need access to the same information, but it’s important that people have access to what they need, anywhere and anytime. 

Informed decisions are great— but those that can be made quickly without sacrificing accuracy are the best decisions. When most employees are required to get data to make a business decision, only 3% are able to do it in seconds. For 60%, it takes hours or days.

Process Efficiency

Inventory management, accounting, project management, and the hiring process—while these processes all seem separate and different in nature, they actually have a lot in common. 

Namely, they are all common business processes that can eat up valuable time during the workday. In other words, your business can benefit from automating these processes using integrated business software.

Currently, CEOs spend 20% of their time on tasks that could be automated—imagine the innovation and growth you could achieve with 20% more time to put towards work that requires that critical human touch. 

Cost Savings

According to a McKinsey report, 45% of current paid activities can be automated by today’s technology, an equivalent of $2 trillion in total annual wages. 

Automation capabilities aside, integrated business software is a cheaper alternative than procuring, installing, and maintaining multiple software—and possibly hardware—systems. 

Integrated Business Software: The Bottom Line

Integrated business software isn’t only for large businesses or even businesses in certain industries. Sure, there will always be nuances, but at the end of the day, every business needs to put an emphasis on efficiency and cost-cutting.

It’s not always easy to abandon the way you’ve done things in the past. After all, your success has gotten you this far. The good news is that you don’t have to abandon anything really—utilizing integrated business software is about changing how certain processes are completed, not changing the processes themselves.

integrated business software system

Increased operational visibility, process efficiency, and reduced costs are just a few of the benefits that integrated business software can offer. Every business is unique—talking with an expert can help you figure out how your business can put integrated business software to work for you.

How Manufacturers Are Innovating in 2021

As they do every week on Twitter from 2-3pm EST, the great people behind #USAManufacturingHour (@DCSCInc, @CvtPlastics, and @SocialSMktg) lead powerful and informative discussions about the latest topics in manufacturing. This blog is sourced from discussions from the inaugural #MfgHour Virtual Networking Mixer. 

Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes—this is especially true in the manufacturing industry. While the manufacturing industry contributes a whopping 11% to the overall United States GDP, 75.3% of American manufacturers have fewer than 20 employees.

In short, the small business manufacturers of America continue to carry the weight of the economy on their backs.

This is no small feat, especially considering some of the staffing challenges that have plagued manufacturers of late. Despite 8.6% of the United States workforce being employed in the manufacturing industry, 89% of manufacturers report they are having trouble finding qualified workers. 

There are many factors that have contributed to the recent growth of this issue. This is a dilemma that demands industry-wide attention—and in some cases—a fundamental rethinking of business operations.

The future of manufacturing will demand a lot from businesses both big and small. While every manufacturer is unique in terms of their product and service offerings, one theme holds true—innovation is necessary. 

Small Change, Big Result

One of the most curious elements of innovation is that change often starts small. 

Let’s take a step back from manufacturing for a second—this is a theme that holds true across society at large. For example, the average person does not contribute an alarming amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The effect, however, is cumulative—while a single person’s actions don’t dictate the fate of our environment, the aggregate sum of every individual’s actions do in fact help dictate it.

Sure, this is a relatively moribund example, but it does effectively illustrate the point that small actions often have big consequences.

lightbulb idea graphic

In manufacturing, finding innovative and creative ways to increase the frugality of your production while upholding the standard of excellence that your customers and clients have come to expect is certainly no easy task.

Cathy Beck of Grey Sky Films has seen this play out firsthand. Videography had been disrupted by the pandemic—without the ability to have frequent site visits, it was time to think outside the box.

Cathy and her team worked hard to create custom content databases for her clients to access virtually. This not only satisfied her existing client base, but this methodology functioned so smoothly that it led to additional clients coming on board.

In the Beck household, finding innovative solutions is a family affair. Years ago, her husband helped a snack food manufacturer save a significant amount of money and resources with one, small change in product packaging:

“They realized that by minimizing waste by 1/10th of an inch would save them a ridiculous amount of money by the end of the year. Think about that, how tiny that was but how effective it was.” 

Not every innovation has to be a novel invention or a reality-shattering epiphany. Sometimes, all it takes is taking a more detailed and organized approach to the things your business already does well. And as the oft-quoted cliché goes, good things come in small packages. 

Lean Manufacturing Processes

Most of us have found ourselves in a position like this before: we are so hyper-focused—some may say “obsessed”—on the end result of a professional goal that we lose sight of what’s directly in front of us.

In other words, sometimes we put the cart before the horse.

Task management is vital in nearly every industry. In manufacturing, it takes on an elevated level of importance.

People have a tendency to keep their blinders on, especially when it comes to over-focusing on the final outcome of the product. That’s not a bad thing on its own—it’s obviously important to have a clear picture of your end-stage product.

Having only the end result in mind may cause someone to overlook various, crucial aspects of the production process—utilizing more fuel efficient machinery, finding more durable materials, and even assessing how your equipment is arranged on the production floor.

Lermit Diaz, CEO of SCTools, knows a thing or two about how important it is to focus on every detail of the lean manufacturing process. His approach: the size of the change is not as important as the consistency and dedication to every detail that serves the overarching goal:

“The small steps will encourage you to get that objective and you move to the next one and the next one.”

Gina Tabasso from Dar-Tech, Inc shares a similar perspective when it comes to keeping projects and production in scope. As we mentioned earlier, the vast majority of American manufacturers have less than 20 employees. In other words, not every company’s eyes need to be locked in on the jaw-dropping figures that companies like Apple and Volkswagen produce:

“You don’t need to be innovative on a global scale with your company or a process or project – it can be in your individual jobs.”

At the end of the day, make sure that you know what your end goal is—but don’t get lost in chasing it. Take your manufacturing process one granular step at a time. 

Adapting to Modern Manufacturing Methods

Every year brings industry wide change to manufacturing processes and the manufacturing industry as a whole. In 2020, we all experienced just how quickly change could be ushered in. 

For many in the manufacturing industry, it was time to upgrade their online presence. This meant seizing the opportunity for change in a way they hadn’t before.

When asked if anything changed in his marketing efforts, Noah from ArtusCorp summed it up succinctly:

‘”Absolutely. Yes, it changed. I would not be sitting here talking to you guys without that.” 

Sometimes the speed of change is overwhelming. In modern manufacturing—especially small business manufacturers—this is often the norm.

life cycle concept

Sometimes the speed of change is overwhelming. In modern manufacturing—especially small business manufacturers—this is often the norm.

Many who were not privy to the digital marketing landscape prior to 2020 found themselves entering 2021 much more knowledgeable on the various mediums that can be used to connect with customers and clients alike. 

One medium, Instagram, has been a boon for manufacturers as of late—some manufacturers have been able to utilize Instagram for making connections, showcasing products, and even making sales. Jen Wegman of Insight Information Solutions has seen firsthand the benefits that Instagram has to offer:

“I would target fabricators and woodworkers who needed castors for their stuff and we would get consistent leads on Instagram and you’d think, ‘why is a manufacturer on Instagram?’ You’d be surprised.”

Forming connections and fostering relationships with sales goals in mind is nothing new. But this year, many manufacturers have discovered new and creative ways to accomplish this goal.

Wrapping Up

Modern manufacturing innovation comes in many forms. More often than not, it’s new technologies that drive innovation by finding novel ways to increase efficiency. Other times, it’s repurposing existing technologies to better fit the needs of a growing business.

Beyond technological advancements, manufacturing innovation also arrives in the form of new methodologies and processes. Your end goal remains the same—the path you take to get there, however, has shifted.

No matter the size or the shape of innovation, it is always just around the corner.

How to Gather Requirements for ERP Implementation

When choosing an ERP for your organization, don’t make the decision based on another business’s experience. Often, the same system could be both super-efficient and non-efficient depending on the specific needs of the business. 

The best way to thoroughly implement an ERP? Involve your employees in the process.

Where To Start

As you assess the requirements that an ERP will need to functionally support your business, you should evaluate the status quo. 

Every organization has bogged down, bottlenecked processes that hinder progress—

analyzing your organization’s bottlenecks is the first step in determining the reasons your business will benefit from implementing an ERP. As you do this, define the main goals that you’re hoping to achieve by implementing a new software solution. 

Invite your team to collaborate—you’ll need as many insights as you can to develop a clear picture of what your business needs in terms of an ERP solution. Don’t limit your collaboration to the C-suite. Everyone in your organization—from the CEO to the newest intern—will be able to give you valuable insight into the different requirements different members of your organization require. You can also include a third-party ERP consultant to get an outside perspective. 

Prioritize The Processes You Need

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The selection of ERP software mainly depends on your business’s specific areas of need. For example, if you’re looking to manage your projects more efficiently, you should enlist the services of a software system focusing on project & portfolio management

Together with your team, understand which processes your business places a priority on. 

Your first task: gather feedback from as many members of your organization as possible. A good way to optimize the process is to send each employee a questionnaire to collect as many independent opinions as you can. 

The next step: sit down with your employees that deal with the most frustrating bottlenecks your business has. They deal with them directly, so they’ll be able to give you the clearest picture in terms of what part of the process needs to be adjusted. 

Brainstorm with your team to define the specific pain points that your employees identified. This list of needed features and improvements will guide you in choosing an ERP. 

List Your Requirements 

After you have collected enough data to analyze, it’s time to make a list of the specific ERP functionalities that your organization needs. 

Your Requirements Should Be:

Avoid high-level descriptions and turn the pain points that your employees voiced into specific requirements. 

For example: Your employees spend too much time manually tracking financial flows → The Erp software you choose should have extended automation functionality for financial management, including keeping detailed financial records on all of your  projects, should allow you to check their status anywhere, any time, and should generate financial reports at time intervals of your choosing. 

You should be able to clearly determine the value that certain upgraded features will add to your business. 

For example: track how many hours are saved by ERP automation. If your employees are manually entering data in Excel, track how many hours were saved as a result of automation. In this way, you should be able to easily calculate the return on investment of your chosen ERP.

Don’t fall victim to unrealistic expectations—a software is only a software. There is no magical solution that will mend your business ailments overnight. The right ERP will act as a catalyst for your business—make sure that your employees are working diligently to make the most of the powerful new tools at their disposal.

Making The Decision

person looking at software

After you’ve formulated your requirements list, it’s time to choose the ERP software you want to use. Most ERP vendors offer a free demo of their product. These demos are custom-tailored to give you a preview of what specific functionalities the ERP can offer—make sure you choose an ERP that is deft in handling all of the delicate intricacies that only your business needs. 

Make the most of the ERP providers’ experience. Utilize their team of software experts to ensure that their solution is able to be a comfortable fit for what your business needs.

Technical implementation is a major factor to consider. If you have an in-house team of developers, consult with them before making a decision. They will be able to provide insights that someone less tech-savvy may have glanced over. 

If you don’t have a team like this on your payroll, enlist an ERP that is able to walk you through and assist you with the oft-complex process of data migration and implementation. 

Training Your Employees 

The successful implementation of your new ERP isn’t the end of the journey, it’s really just the start. Your employees need to learn how to use the system. 

Although your enterprise resource planning software was designed and developed to digitize your organization’s processes and increase employee efficiency, many of them may be reluctant to learn how to use a new software. Your task here will be to communicate the value of the system and to teach your employees to build new and better professional habits. 

This is an arduous task at first glance, but there’s good news—most ERP vendors offer personalized support & employee onboarding. Not only will a team of experts develop a software tailored to your businesses specific needs, but they’ll show you the ropes and train everyone in your organization on how to get the most of the software. 

Wrapping Up

The prospect of shifting the entirety of your business’s operations to a new ERP can be daunting on the surface. But like most things in life, breaking down this large undertaking into digestible chunks will help you through the process.

The Best Steps To Follow In This Process: 

  • Gather as many insights from as many employees as you can
  • Determine the main objectives of ERP implementation
  • Make a list of the specific ERP functionalities you need 
  • Prioritize them in order of importance
  • Talk to your ERP vendor
  • Implement the ERP
  • Utilize the ERP’s vendors expertise in teaching your employees how to use the software

ERPs contain a wide-ranging set of functionalities across an even wider range of industries. Not every ERP will be perfect for your business, but don’t fret—the perfect ERP for business is out there.