Large companies have long understood the business benefits of modern ERP platforms. Uniting previously siloed processes company-wide into a single system for ‘one version of the truth’ delivers huge efficiency gains. All departments can work in a more connected way, while the company frees up time and cuts costs by digitising, streamlining, and automating business processes.
In contrast, small and mid-market businesses (SMBs) usually run their company with a mix of manual processes, various spreadsheets, accounting software, and disconnected point solutions. As an organization grows, processes become more complex and the company may enter new markets and start to compete globally. Without a solid, reliable technological foundation, huge success can turn into major struggles, and ambitious organisations can fold under the strain.
Cloud-based ERP platform for SMBs
Typically, leaders at the fast-growth businesses I talk with have outgrown their accounting software within a year or two. They recognise that an ERP platform will help them gain a tighter grip of their entire business, improve cashflow, fast-track reporting, and make it easier to comply with regulations. The good news is that over the last few years, advances in technology, combined with software-as-a-service models (which move ERP into an OPEX budget), have smashed the traditional cost and complexity barriers associated with ERP which prevented smaller companies from investing in intelligent ERP.
One example is Ooni, a fast-growing, Scotland-based business that developed the world’s first portable wood pellet pizza oven. Husband-and-wife team, Kristian Tapaninaho and Darina Garland, launched Ooni through a Kickstarter campaign in 2012, revolutionising outdoor cooking. Experiencing rapid growth, the co-founders realized they needed a cloud-based ERP platform to streamline operations and get access to more accurate, in-depth commercial information.
They selected SAP Business ByDesign because it was designed specifically for mid-market companies, and allowed Ooni to integrate with Shopify, Amazon, and multiple third-party fulfilment partners. Team members could easily compare product sales across distributors – including department and hardware stores – and their online store. With precise, up-to-date business information, everyone could make better strategic decisions about products, marketing, sales, and customer service.
Tapaninaho, Ooni’s CEO, stated in this article by SAP Partner Cofficient Ltd., “The (ERP) implementation is another crucial step in our journey. We feel this solution provides the right foundation to help us scale in a controlled and strategic fashion… We are confident that we have chosen the right partner and software to help us achieve our ambitions.” The following year, Ooni was listed seventh in the Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100.
Smaller business leaders often prefer to deal with smaller businesses. They are looking for trusted advisors with experience in their specific industry. This is where value-added resellers (VARs) come in as experts who help SMBs find the best solution and deployment model to address their challenges and achieve their business objectives. Some even have packages which deliver, in this case, SAP’s technology, often combined with the VAR’s intellectual property.
Whatever the size of a business, organisations cannot solve today’s and tomorrow’s challenges using yesterday’s tools. To continue growth in a controlled way, SMBs would do well to consider a modern ERP platform that will provide the process efficiencies enjoyed by larger competitors, as well as data-driven insights and agility for scale and innovation. The only difference is SMBs need ERP designed to suit the specific needs of growing companies, as well as their tighter budgets and timelines.
See the original version of this blog at Forbes SAP BrandVoice.