Today's fast pace of business demands a novel approach to running your company. Increasingly complex operations, expanding global markets, and a push to serve digital consumers have put massive pressure on businesses – and tools like enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are in the thick of it.
Is it finally time to ditch your piecemeal, spreadsheet-driven approach to doing business? Here's what to know about how ERP systems might transform your operating practices – and how your hiring strategy will have to evolve to keep up.
What Are ERP Systems?
ERP systems are software applications that let businesses take a holistic approach to managing their essential operations.
But, it's not quite that simple. ERPs come in countless flavours because, after all, the companies that use them take many forms and employ an infinite range of business models. So what's the unifying thread?
The key to remember is that most ERPs, despite their diversity, tend to share a few characteristic hallmarks that set them apart from other business softwares – like that warehousing system that's stuck in the 1980s or that killer CRM app that only ever succeeded at killing your team's enthusiasm for CRM.
ERP systems are:
- Integrated, meaning that they can pull data from different parts of your business and synthesize it into meaningful, consumable reports
- Scalable, so as your operation grows, you can add more users and new functionalities
- Equipped with built-in analytics capabilities, so you can track performance over time and make changes as needed
- Customizable, so you don't have to settle for tools that don't quite fit the bill.
What ERP Systems Do
In short, ERP systems are all about efficiency, accuracy, and agility – and that's why they're revolutionizing the way we work. As good as those concepts sound, however, they're a bit too vague to build a business strategy on – so how exactly do ERPs get the job done?
The secret sauce lies in how ERPs enhance workflows. These platforms serve as a single, uniform source of knowledge for your entire organization. In the process, they integrate all of your business activities – including accounting, human resources, inventory management, and customer relationship management (CRM) – into one comprehensive system.
Having everything in one convenient location makes it much easier to track performance across departments, identify problems before they become too big to address effectively, and ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to decision-making. If you're thinking that this sounds like putting all your eggs in one basket, not to worry. Most ERPs can be deployed in ways that take advantage of the strengths of modern business software, such as using the cloud, automating backups, and instituting access controls or permissions to determine who gets to view which information under specific circumstances.
We mentioned earlier that ERP systems are designed with scalability in mind. This means that as your company grows or changes direction over time, you can easily adjust your platform – without having to start from scratch at every new challenge. That ultimately translates to less downtime for employees as well as fewer headaches for IT staff who have to maintain the system!
Why Companies Use ERP Systems
ERP systems' real power lies in their ability to streamline existing business processes, provide enhanced visibility into day-to-day operations, and help you cultivate new potential revenue streams. Here are a few examples of what this might look like in practice.
With ERPs, you can:
- Automate manual processes like invoicing and ordering to save time and reduce errors
- Aggregate data from multiple sources – such as accounting, sales, marketing, and customer support – into one unified dashboard for easy access and analysis
- Allow anyone in your organization to share information with vendors and partners while adhering to regulations by setting system-wide rules that keep you on the right side of the law
- Engage with new business partners with a high degree of professionalism
- Leverage predictive analytics to anticipate customer needs and trends before they happen, making it easier to manage stock, service tickets, and outreach campaigns cost-effectively
- Improve collaboration between teams by providing them with shared workspaces where they can work together on projects seamlessly.
Evolving Hiring Perspectives and The Future of Work: Adapting to the ERP Revolution
ERPs are transforming the way we do business today, but what about in the future? Well, we can extrapolate based on current trends.
As new technologies continue to evolve – think artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and blockchain – so will their potential applications in business operations. This suggests that businesses will have to shift gears accordingly or risk falling behind their competitors who make use of these powerful tools.
What does all this mean for your hiring strategy? It depends on the size of your organization and its current level of technology adoption. If you're a small to medium-sized business just beginning your journey, it may be wise to start looking outside your organization – and your normal go-to industry talent pools – for professionals who have the skills and expertise to help your enterprise adapt to using these platforms.
On the other hand, if you're a larger enterprise that's well-versed in ERP systems, your hiring focus should be on individuals with deep knowledge of niche technologies, such as AI or ML. In other words, you want people who can help you build a better ERP solution, not just run the one you've already got.
One critical consideration is whether to augment your team with new permanent members or independent ERP consultants. While there's no one-size-fits-all answer, the decision usually hinges on the scope of your ERP system deployment and your timeline for achieving desired outcomes.
Bear in mind that you can always bring consultants on permanently after a trial period. When you're trying to deploy new features or subsystems, however, it may be worth seeking out the most talented candidates first and building from there, particularly if you want to keep costs manageable.
The way we work is changing faster than most humans – or enterprises – can keep up with. ERP systems are at the forefront of this revolution, but their potential depends on how you use them.
With the right system in place, businesses can save themselves labour, reduce costs, get better decision-making insight, and even identify new ways to drive revenues. To maximize the benefits, however, you must be open to re-skilling your current workforce or bringing in specialized professionals who know how to make the most of a good thing.
The changes brought about by ERPs aren't just operational; they're cultural, so it pays to build a team with a first-hand understanding of the complete picture.
Whether you're just getting started with ERPs or trying to refine one, remember: Don't be afraid to challenge your traditional hiring practices. Embracing the future of work now could set you up for success down the road, so keep an open mind – especially when it comes to how and where you acquire talent.
Learn more about putting ERPs to work for the greater good by finding a vetted specialist on Oomple.