An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is like the central nervous system for a business, collecting and organising key information to support efficient operations. The ERP platform automates business processes and provides insights and internal controls, drawing on a central database that collects inputs from various departments, and outputs a single version of the truth.
ERP systems typically come with several modules that are the building blocks for the software used to run the business. Each module brings a bundle of functionality that helps complete a particular process, or a part of that process. As each business has different requirements, so it will require a specific set of building blocks: some of these are common to every business, whilst others provide more specialist functionality or apply only to certain industry sectors. The beauty of a cloud ERP is that you only have to use the modules you need.
So which ERP modules do we recommend and how can your business put them together to improve competitive advantage and promote growth?
The finance module not only provides bookkeeping but also tracks accounts receivable and payable. It can handle reconciliations to help the accounting department close out their books quickly in a timely manner. The finance module often has billing capabilities, as well as functionality to generate key financial statements like balance sheets and cash flow reports. Tools that automate complex calculations such as revenue recognition or consolidation of data from various subsidiaries for reporting purposes may be found here too.
To maintain a high level of efficiency in an organisation, it is vital to have control over data and processes related to people such as payroll and employee records. The HR module stores employee information at its central location so that you can track basic details like salary or hourly rate as well as holiday and sickness pay effectively.
HR systems are used not only to track personnel information, but also provide employees with basic self-service functionality that includes requesting time off or inputting their hours for pay periods. This helps companies comply easily by automating what could be a complex process of calculating tax withholdings, benefit contributions and so on.
The procurement module, also known as the purchasing module, is a crucial tool that allows companies to improve their processes involved in getting the goods, services and materials it needs to deliver its own products or services. Approved suppliers can be kept on an organisation's list with specific items assigned so they are always ready when needed for production or sales purposes. It will automate requests for a quote from these suppliers, along with tracking and analysing those quotes within one place - making it easier than ever before!
The procurement module centralises the purchase order process and integrates it with other company systems. This enables businesses to better rationalise invoices, track their purchases more effectively as well as prepare payments for suppliers. The functionality often allows companies an opportunity for cost savings through various analytical and reporting functions.
With inventory management software, you can move the tracking of individual SKUs from spreadsheets to a database that updates in real time. This allows accurate and timely measurement for quantities on hand as well as location, including goods currently being transported. Reporting tools can weigh sales trends against available product daily to help companies keep the right amount of inventory on hand.
With better inventory management, companies can improve their cash flow and increase inventory turnover. Inventory can also be allocated across both online and physical channels and deliver new fulfilment opportunities.
With the order management module, you can easily keep track of orders from when they are first received to delivery. The program will notify employees in your facilities if there is an issue with matching inventory and make sure that all products get shipped out on time, so customers receive their goods as quickly as possible. An order management solution combined with an inventory management tool ensures that items ordered are actually in stock, preventing backorders and delivering a positive customer experience.
A warehouse management module can result in large efficiency gains by digitising and automating put-away, fulfilment and shipping processes. It complements the features of the inventory and order management modules. With support for different picking strategies like batch picking, wave picking and zone picking, a warehouse management module can improve order fulfilment rates as well as the accuracy of orders.
Manufacturers are usually looking for a tool that helps them build and execute against a bill of materials (BOM), which is like a recipe for the creation of a product. The BOM helps the company plan for the production of goods by ensuring that it has the correct components or materials in the right quantities to execute all work orders. The manufacturing module is tied directly to demand and supply planning. Manufacturing modules also offer functionality that ensures product quality, as well as operational efficiency on the factory floor.
Supply Chain Management (SCM)
The Supply Chain Management module’s functionality often intertwines with the inventory, order and warehouse management systems, but its basic aim is to lend end-to-end visibility of the company’s supply chain and its partners, from sub-suppliers to distributors, in order to ensure continuity and compliance and reduce supply chain risk. This module enhances supply chain planning as it allows a company to consider all aspects including purchase orders, inventory, current and planned production, expected demand and even returns and exchanges.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
A CRM has three core capabilities: sales force automation, customer service management and marketing automation.
Sales force automation helps your sales team to manage leads and opportunities and put together proposals and quotes. As well as assisting management, it can also forecast sales by leveraging historical data about transactions and buying behaviour.
The customer service management function of CRM allows you to track the company’s communication history with customers and prospects, including dates and times of contacts, recording conversations, and providing a history of the relationship.
Marketing automation helps a business to segment their audience to determine who should be targeted for promotional campaigns. It also triggers different marketing processes following a specific input from a customer, such as completing an enquiry form or downloading product information on your website. Such information flows into the CRM and generates a notification so a member of sales and marketing can follow up the enquiry.
Professional Service Automation
Professional Service Automation (PSA) or Service Resource Management allows a company to plan and manage projects. The PSA module tracks the status of projects, managing human and capital resources throughout, and allows managers to share information and approve expenses and timesheets.
The PSA module tracks project status, consultants assigned, hours logged, travel expenses and communications with the client, and integrates with the finance module to use all that information to automatically prepare and issue bills to clients based on the billing schedule.
For businesses that want to sell their products online, an ecommerce module typically comes with user-friendly tools that allow non-technical employees to easily add new items, update product content (titles, item descriptions, product specifications, images, etc.) and change the look and feel of the ecommerce website. The ecommerce module integrates with modules for inventory, order and warehouse management, so all order, customer and payment information seamlessly flows into the ERP.
Advanced Marketing Automation
While the CRM module can often handle basic marketing automation, a dedicated marketing module can offer more advanced marketing automation capabilities. Data from the CRM system can feed into the marketing automation module to drive targeted marketing campaigns across various channels, including social, email, video and more. A marketing automation module will also maintain various contact lists and can measure the performance of marketing campaigns in detail, allowing you to update and refine marketing activities based on the data. Ultimately, a marketing automation module should help a business grow revenue across all sales channels and increase customer loyalty.