Even though the “E” in ERP stands for “enterprise,” you don’t need to be a giant corporation to reap the benefits of enterprise resource planning software—it works wonders for all sorts of businesses, including small and midsize enterprises (SMEs).
What is Enterprise Resource Planning Software?
ERPs are a bit like the Swiss Army Knife of business tools. They integrate a number of different tools and software platforms in one convenient hub. The best part for small to midsize businesses is that ERPs are super customizable and can be configured to specifically meet a company’s unique needs. ERPs can unite data from point-of-sale (POS) systems and customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and replace traditional accounting software.
Before the rise of cloud computing power, ERPs existed as on-premises software that was stored and run from servers located at a business’s physical location. But these days, cloud-based ERPs like Rockton Connect’s have become incredibly popular with brands of all sizes because of how scalable and secure they are, with greater flexibility and lower overhead than their onsite counterparts.
Why Do SMEs Need ERPs?
Small to midsize businesses find significant value in ERPs for the same reason programs like Quickbooks are so popular. It’s not always practical or affordable for startups and growing companies to hire an in-house accountant or lock in a retainer with a bookkeeping firm. But even a busy founder or a team member wearing several hats can learn their way around a software program if it has a good user interface. It’s all about making life easier.
ERPs offer even more value and efficiency than accounting software platforms. That’s because they go far beyond bookkeeping and integrate a variety of functions, from inventory control and order management to demand forecasting.
The scalability of ERPs is another big plus. Cloud ERPs grow along with small businesses as they expand. The software-as-a-service model means you can pick and choose what features and integrations you want depending on what your business needs. You can also work with your data in real time and get support whenever you need it. That’s a level of TLC that’s often hard to come by when you’re a small business owner trying to watch your budget and make things happen.
Cloud ERPs Stay Nimble As Small Businesses Grow
Before cloud computing was a thing, scaling up business management tools was a real headache. You had to pay for big, bulky servers to store your data and hire IT experts to run it all. As a brand grew, it would mean more computer equipment, more floor space, a larger IT staff and more overhead. And if that same brand needed to take a step back or tighten its belt, that meant facing some hard choices about all that ERP infrastructure and the staff hired to manage it.
Cloud ERPs like those we offer at Rockton Connect tackle the many pain points that make small and midsize business owners hesitant about moving beyond traditional on-premises business management tools. Once a business makes that initial investment in a cloud-based ERP system, company leaders can be confident it will scale up or down without any additional capital outlays.
If you need to add an inventory component to your ERP, for example, you won’t need to worry about budgeting for another software subscription or equipment upgrade down the line. And if your business ever needs to scale back in size or ERP scope, that’s also easy to do without having to sell off used equipment or reduce IT staff.
The flexibility that Rockton Connect’s ERP provides also means you can integrate many of the software tools in which you’ve already invested. This is because Acumatica—Rockton’s choice for cloud-based, customized ERP system—has open application programming interfaces (APIs) and pre-built connector frameworks that make it easy to connect to other programs in the cloud, from Outlook email to websites, e-commerce tools and POS devices. The cloud ERP doesn’t replace all the existing tools you already use that work well for your business. It just makes it easier for your team to use those tools anytime, anywhere.
Are Cloud ERPs Secure?
You don’t need us to tell you that security is a big deal for businesses of all sizes, even those with less than 500 employees. Cloud-based ERPs offer superior safeguards over on-premise systems. Sure, most businesses go all out to secure their physical locations, but the cloud adds an extra layer of digital protection that regular old software just can’t compete with.
With Acumatica, your team can log in from wherever they want, and the ERP keeps tabs on all of those logins, along with tracking every single change and update made to your records. The kind of loopholes that made fraud possible with pen-and-paper bookkeeping and entry-level accounting software simply don’t exist in a cloud ERP.
Cloud ERPs keep all your records much safer than they would be if they were stored at a single location, too. American business management tools like Acumatica are built on the world's most secure infrastructure provider and feature automated backups and multi-zone disaster recovery.
Instead of recruiting and vetting your own in-house IT and cybersecurity experts, your ERP includes a whole team of specialists well-versed in firewalls, server-side logic, detailed access controls and authentication.
There are few things more valuable to a small or midsize business than up-to-date data analysis—especially in fast-evolving industries where the only constant is change. That’s why it’s crucial for businesses to start collecting and organizing data from all corners of their operations as early as possible. Any small startup that hopes to be acquired one day will find that having a solid record of how the business has grown and operates like a well-oiled machine boosts its overall value.
Whether or not you hope to be acquired, data is also invaluable for operations. Consistent, organized data collection is the best protection against lost revenue or unmonitored costs. We’re here to help you make sure every aspect of your business is well-managed, so you can protect your business in both the short and long term.
It’s worth remembering that data is just as important to your company's growth as all the time and money you’re pouring into it. But integrating data-collection tools like cloud ERPs after the fact can be a major and expensive undertaking. Utilizing industry-specific ERP solutions from the outset—or at least sooner, rather than later—can help you avoid unnecessary logistical headaches and find success that much sooner.
Learn more about the capabilities of Rockton’s ERP software for retailers and manufacturers.