Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is possibly the most important business software development since the first computerised accounting packages were developed. Businesses of all sizes can now use the latest technology to monitor the health of their business in close to real time and make proactive decisions to boost productivity and enhance workflows.Enterprise Resource Planning does all this by providing managers with a system that can gather data from all parts of a business and report via a central database. ERP was developed during the 1990s to improve production in traditional manufacturing but it has since developed into a comprehensive business support system.

The early versions of ERP were run on company intranets and required substantial investment in IT hardware, software, and support staff. Today, ERP systems developers have moved services onto the cloud, which means that data is no longer stored on company servers; instead it is securely stored on cloud servers which can be accessed from any device with an internet connection.

ERP software is usually a modular system which means that clients can choose to use only the parts of the system that are specific to their needs. Clients may only be interested in orders and accounts, but if they wish to expand to cover customer relations, human resources, and marketing this is also possible.

Managers with ERP solutions can access the latest business data from a home PC, smart phones, and tablets. This helps to speed up decision making as managers can review changes in the market as they happen. For decision makers the biggest advantage of ERP is that there is no longer a need to rely on monthly management accounts to know how well a company is performing. The data is available all the time and is constantly being updated.

How to increase productivity and efficiency

There are many ways that using ERP as part of a business solution can help to improve both productivity and efficiency.

The main way ERP boosts business is by creating a better-integrated management team where information is freely shared across a business. Fewer business meetings are required to discuss the latest sales figures because they are always available at a touch of a button.

Another major advantage of ERP is that you save both time and money by identifying troughs in productivity and bottlenecks that restrict production. When problems are identified quickly resources can be allocated to the problem areas to help keep output at the desired level.

ERP can reduce operating costs because all business channels are integrated into a single outsourced system, which can drastically cut IT development and maintenance costs.

For management ERP is all about strategic planning and ensuring that the company can rapidly adapt to a changing market. With ERP managers will know almost immediately if a new product starts to take off and this allows them to manoeuvre the business to take advantage of a new demand before their competitors are able to claim the market.

Having a central system for maintaining software really can benefit all parts of a business, from the factory floor workers up to the top level management. With ERP, managers literally have their finger on the pulse of their business and can steer the company in the right direction.

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