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One common drawback for businesses is the amount of money spent on multiple different ERP/CRM software solutions to manage production, inventory and much more. Most of the time it can be a rather confusing and unnecessary process and chances are it's a waste of both money and time. The software is meant to increase productivity, so when your company is using ERP and losing out on productivity, there's something wrong. Perhaps it's time to start exploring whether or not your business is in need of change.

Review and Update Regularly

Reviews and updates are important for ERP systems for a variety of reasons. Your business creates vast quantities of data every day: each time a customer calls, or if following up a promising lead, your business is learning something new. This data needs to be recorded somewhere so that all can access it. A recent survey by Applied Business  discovered that 55% of businesses had updated their ERP, CRM, or project management software in the last two years but that 26% never upgrade their ERP, CRM, or project management software. Not upgrading your software will be costly (and potentially risky) in the long run, as any computer software should be regularly updated to keep up with trends and advancements.

It's much cheaper to update regularly because if your company doesn't update for several years, it will result in a large financial cost which would equate to buying a new software package. Other benefits of updating can be the opportunities of increased communication, efficiency and productivity. For a small business (especially one just starting out), it would be extremely cost effective as, keeping up with other larger businesses, not only enhances that business' reputation but also increases revenue.

Eliminate Multiple Different Software Systems

One of the major problems of working with multiple different software package,s is the unnecessary repetition of data. For example, let's say data is entered into CRM regarding an order a customer has made, this data is then replicated into other relevant software that different departments use, in order to create an invoice. This is a time-consuming process to get to the end result, when your business could have an integrated system that your staff just enters the data into once only. Your software should be helping your business productivity, not limiting it. Pegasus software allows your business to streamline your business process into one package and also allows businesses to purchase additional modules based on the needs of the company.

Create a Disaster Recovery Plan

There tends to be a fear of disasters within businesses, if something fails how do you recover all the data? The answer is that you create a disaster recovery plan. When creating your disaster recovery plan, make sure to make a list of all the critical jobs, all the necessary office equipment to complete your day-to-day tasks, a plan for temporary office space and of course allocate a budget. Then once the plan is completed, make sure to keep a copy offsite, whether it's a hard copy or backed up online, so that there are no surprises in the event of a disaster. Applied Business recent survey, shows businesses that take back-ups of IT systems at least once a week are less likely to suffer due to poor product management.

Astonishingly, 50% of businesses do not take daily back-ups of their IT systems. This represents a high potential risk through not recovering the data quickly or effectively.  

However, it is important that once a disaster recovery plan is created, not to leave it gathering dust, as it will need to be amended accordingly as the business grows. This plan should also be reviewed annually to ensure all aspects of the business are still covered.

Get Everyone on Board

Employee resistance to change is the main reason why businesses do not update their systems, because once a business is comfortable using a particular software, changing it can be stressful, not to mention costly in terms of retraining the staff. However, there are benefits to implementing change. Your employees will gain the access they need to produce accurate data, so that they then won't disturb other departments while looking for data they don't have access too, allowing productivity to increase.

There can also be the added problem of trying to get everyone's schedule to match to accommodate the training, as the cost of having to bulk train over a few days can be expensive and time-consuming. An example of using a training budget efficiently would be to train a few people from different departments, invest the money into extensive training, so that those few people can go back and teach their teams. They will become the go-to advisors on the new system and there's an added bonus that, whilst those people are being trained on the new software, the rest of their departments are able to keep working so that deadlines are still met.

One major advantage of using an integrated system is that less time is spent training your employees on the different software and needing to repeat the exercise when the software gets updated.

Reduce Manual Processes

Applied Business research shows that 73% of businesses who are carrying out manual business processes say they are "constantly" or "frequently" facing errors. For some businesses, particularly small businesses, poor project management could put their reputation on the line, especially when starting out. By using a workflow management software package, it will increase operational efficiencies and avoid those errors. Consequently, by continuing to use manual processing and its inherent error count, your company misses out on all the benefits of lower IT costs and increased efficiency. Having a unified ERP system can greatly lower any/all IT expenses, including management/admin and support staff.

Whilst it can be daunting to look at upgrading your ERP system and retraining your staff, the overall investment of integrating ERP software into your business, will help your company growth whilst securing your data.

by Martin Craze - Founder and Managing Director of Applied Business