“Businesses needs this technology to anticipate demand and defuse problems before they happen,” says Michael Finch, account executive for Premier Technologies. “Enterprise solutions require a single source of information that makes programs more efficient, flexible and productive.”
Smart Business spoke with Finch about the competitive edge enterprise solutions can create for a company.
How do enterprise solutions make a company competitive in the market?
Company owners have made an intelligent decision to focus on their core competencies and not attempt to be experts in the computer software business. Not long ago, enterprise solutions were phased out in an attempt to save money. Instead of outsourcing programming and system operations to an expert in that field, companies attempted to design their own home-based systems.
Such systems worked for awhile, but now there is a trend to go back to the ERP or packaged software provider because of the modularity of options that allow companies to be more flexible in the changing marketplace.
No business is an island. Each competes in a specific industry context. ERP providers, in response to demand-driven markets, offer modules for manufacturing, distribution, asset intensive businesses, project-oriented businesses, etc. This allows the client to implement a module with the option to add as the company grows, keeping initial costs down and creating a better and faster return on investment (ROI). The software can scale up in response to the company’s growth.
By purchasing enterprise solutions and paying a software company to maintain the systems, a company can gain efficiency and productivity in operations without being caught in the trap of chasing regulatory changes or accounting standard improvements, or incorporating new technologies. Enterprise solutions help shoulder the responsibilities for meeting the regulatory and compliance issues with a company’s business processes on an ongoing basis. The ROI and pace at which these systems are implemented in a business are so big that most companies need such programs to stay competitive.
How can a process be developed to meet the needs of different companies?
Because companies don’t always need all the bells and whistles, modular systems are the answer. The company can purchase and implement only those applications that make sense for its business. As needs change, the company can implement new modules or applications. This helps cut costs, because the system grows only as the company grows.
It makes sense in that the IT team installs and maintains only those applications that their business currently needs. To alleviate even more stress, a company that provides enterprise solutions can also provide an IT staff that can help develop programs needed as a company changes. It also makes better sense for employees to learn only those applications that they actually use. An example would be implementing financials only as a start-up, adding customer relationship management, then implementing warehousing and distribution.
Why is there a resurgence of such programs?
The resurgence of enterprise solutions is being driven by Sarbanes-Oxley and related regulatory changes that require companies to document the business processes behind financial reporting.
In addition, the transition from traditional batch processing of corporate information to more real-time information is driving a need for overhauling mission-critical systems. The competitive nature of business and the importance of business intelligence in decision-making conspire to make batch processing and paper reports obsolete.
How do enterprise solutions benefit a company?
An enterprise solution will allow the customer to get fast access to a wide range of information. Clients want to control business processes and change them when necessary without having to call on a programmer. Enterprise solutions allow them to do this. Customers also want capabilities designed for their industry instead of a generic solution.
It is important to find a local business partner that will work with the software provider to provide the functional experts for the software modules that a company plans to install. There should be a knowledge transfer to the company’s personnel through training and the development of hands-on skills. Most importantly, tailored solutions are necessary to meet the needs of a vertical industry.
MICHAEL FINCH is an account executive for Premier Technologies. Reach him at (412) 788-8080 or email@example.com.