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What are ERP Systems?

Learn how ERP systems integrate all facets of an enterprise into one information system and unlock business value.

Businesswoman using ERP system on laptop

Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP, is powerful software that organizations use to connect and manage different areas of their business, including operations, sales, customers, supply chains, financials, reporting, and more.

In today’s fast-moving digital business environment, companies turn to ERP systems for a reliable and efficient way to capture and analyze data that helps them streamline processes. A cutting-edge ERP system can help your business uncover data-driven insights and leverage them for productivity, scalability, and profitability.

With an effective ERP system, your organization can also use advanced technology to automate manual tasks, analyze large amounts of data, and operate in an agile manner, especially if you run on cloud ERP. It offers more flexibility and digital capabilities that help you fine-tune operations with real-time visibility into every connected area of your business, and help you meet shifting customer demand while building a foundation for scale and growth.

In this article, learn the critical role of ERP systems in essential industries, how ERP systems drive business value, and the many capabilities they bring to your enterprise.

Modern ERP Systems for Essential Industries

A modern ERP system is designed to help your organization thrive across a rapidly evolving global landscape. No matter the business challenges, ERP systems help you stay ahead of the competition by integrating all facets of your enterprise into one information system.

As the single source of truth, ERP systems help ensure that everyone in your company has the functionality they need to be productive and efficient. In essential industries, where customer and supplier situations can quickly change due to complex factors, modern ERP helps you flex and scale to meet their needs.

Today’s ERP systems are platforms for business growth, not just systems of record. They are highly collaborative systems that help you adapt to a changing business climate, while helping ensure that your critical systems are accessible, secure, and ready to scale when you need.

Here are ways that modern ERP systems work in five essential industries:

  • In manufacturing, ERP systems connect the plant floor to the back office. They help manage customer demand, plan and schedule resources, supply optimum levels of production and quality, and control inventory. They also help predict equipment failures, identify preventative maintenance needs, and streamline warehouse operations, allowing you to focus on proactive business growth, rather than resolving recurring issues.
  • In distribution, ERP systems streamline workflows from sales to shipping, improving productivity and inventory management. They help distributors grow sales, improve margins, and utilize business intelligence to enable fact-based decision-making, which can help improve response times across the business and increase customer satisfaction.
  • In retail, ERP, or retail management systems, can supply real-time insights into customer demand for more accurate forecasting, so that you can stock strategically. Your ERP system also allows you to answer inventory questions immediately, easily help customers through checkout, and create loyalty programs and omnichannel experiences.
  • In building supply, an ERP system can bring accuracy and control to operations, including the use of performance dashboards. It can also support user forums and anticipate customer needs with frequently upgraded features.
  • In the automotive industry, ERP systems help you manage inventory, connect customers to suppliers, improve counter services, meet regulatory requirements, and leverage business intelligence to increase margins.

By collecting data from all your hardware and software systems, modern ERP systems help everyone make faster, more informed decisions. ERP also empowers employees to develop novel solutions to daily challenges by giving them high-tech user-friendly tools, like low-code/no-code capabilities to automate workflows.

The Business Value of Cloud ERP

ERP was always housed on-premises in the past. Today’s ERP software solutions are primarily cloud-based, which makes them flexible, agile, and more secure.

Before cloud computing, local installations were the only way to get dependable hardware and software to manage your information. They had high continuous costs, in the form of a dedicated IT staff and frequent maintenance and replacement needs for servers.

With cloud-based ERP, your software and data are stored on a network of servers in different locations for redundancy and managed by off-site providers. Storage in the cloud enhances your security and eliminates the physical risks to your business, like fire or storms. It also adds layers of defense managed 24/7 by professional IT experts. And it frees up your IT team to focus on supporting business goals instead of maintaining local tech equipment and updating software.

Modern cloud ERP software is often more user friendly and intuitive than older on-premises ERP systems. And because of how it’s deployed, it’s more configurable and features more capabilities. For instance, employees can access the system anytime, anywhere through a web browser. This facilitates the type of highly efficient remote-first operations that are key to achieving business goals with a talented workforce.

Companies can choose how to deploy ERP. If you want total control, you can stick with on-premises. If you want to mix solutions or transition to the cloud at your own pace, you may opt for a hybrid solution. However, companies choose cloud because in the increasingly digital world, an integrated business ecosystem offers better performance and establishes a foundation for the future of your business.

Cloud Capabilities for ERP

With a flexible, modern cloud ERP system, your organization can easily incorporate modular solutions. Capabilities address specific business needs and are built to grow with your company, flexing and scaling as you do. Here are some of the most significant ones.

Business Intelligence and Analytics

Businesses have an abundance of data, but it doesn’t become valuable until it generates actionable insights. ERP business intelligence and analytics give you real-time data in easy-to-use charts and dashboards that help you make smarter decisions.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

When integrated into ERP systems, CRM solutions give you tools to manage contacts, leads, and opportunities. By sharing data with everyone who interacts with your customers, you can allow a unified experience at every touchpoint, helping create unique customer experiences.

Data Management and Connectivity

Streamlined data management and connectivity services help allow your vital systems to be connected, be secure, and run smoothly, allowing you to easily tackle a data integration or migration project that improves business functionality.

eCommerce and Point-of-Sale

Customers expect businesses to be ready when they are. With industry-specific eCommerce and Point-of-Sale capabilities integrated with your ERP system, you can allow a consistent multi-location, omnichannel experience that serves customers’ needs.

Financial Management Solutions

Enterprise finances can be complicated, but integrated software can help simplify them. From basic bookkeeping to advanced analytics, industry-specific financial management solutions can help you automate and streamline your financial processes while increasing your visibility and control.

Global Business Management

Managing a business with customers, employees, and markets around the world is exciting yet challenging. The latest cloud ERP systems have global business management solutions that help you provide consistency across locations, languages, and currencies, so that your workforce can stay connected to customers and suppliers no matter where they are.

Governance, Risk, and Compliance

Regulations are complex, interconnected, and constantly evolving. Your ERP system should have the tools and capabilities to effectively manage compliance requirements and mitigate risks, so that you can stay productive without compromising profitability.

Human Resource Management

A modern business needs a modern workforce. With human resource management tools to cut down on manual processes and data entry, HR professionals can focus on hiring, developing, and retaining the employees you need to drive business success.

Planning and Scheduling

By successfully managing remote operations and a flexible workforce, you can increase your ability to meet shifting customer demand. Within your ERP system, planning and scheduling capabilities help ensure you have the employees, products, materials, and equipment needed to deliver customer satisfaction and profitability.

Product Management

To keep product life cycles efficient and productive from design to delivery, product management tools integrate into your ERP system to streamline processes and facilitate communication and collaboration across your entire enterprise.

Production Management

As customers demand greater speed and flexibility, you need a cloud ERP system to keep pace. Powerful production management software helps optimize production capacity along with quality and on-time deliveries that keep costs low.

Sales and Marketing Solutions

When sales and marketing systems are integrated into ERP and streamlined and automated, your employees get accurate data to help them focus on defining target markets, closing deals, and building profitable relationships.

Supply Chain and Logistics

The supply chain is a complex web of global relationships. With ERP-integrated supply chain and logistics solutions, you get the transparency and traceability to act proactively and strategically, helping to strengthen your supply chain, while eliminating hidden costs and issues.

5 Ways Cloud ERP Helps Your Business

Cloud ERP systems help make your business more flexible, dynamic, productive, and efficient. Here are five of the most significant benefits.

  1. Automate manual tasks. Few things are more frustrating than menial activities that you know could be automated, like filing safety and regulatory reports or data entry. When teams feel the effects of rote work and wasted time, a modern ERP system can relieve the pressure, allowing employees to focus on more mission-critical work.
  2. Get the right information. In the digital era, business success starts with data-driven decision making. Cloud ERP systems make this possible by creating a single source of truth for all information in your enterprise, presenting it in easy-to-read formats, and providing advanced technologies, like AI, to analyze it for actionable insights.
  3. Consolidate your applications. Many companies eventually amass dozens of systems that don’t talk to one another but require valuable resources to maintain. Instead of constantly logging into different applications and managing complicated vendor relationships, you can migrate to an ERP system in the cloud to streamline your entire ecosystem.
  4. Resolve issues quickly. Machine breakdowns, inventory shortages, and supply chain backups are normal parts of business, especially against a global landscape of disruption and uncertainty. Cloud ERP systems can help you get ahead of issues with automated tracing and transparency and AI-powered predictive analytics, so that you can resolve them proactively.
  5. Open up remote operations. The ability to operate and manage your business remotely opens up new opportunities for productivity and growth. Cloud ERP systems allow remote access and more flexibility for your workforce by giving employees access where and when they need it.

How Epicor Can Help

As the speed of global business accelerates, cloud ERP can help you streamline your systems, connecting your organization and giving you a dynamic foundation for the future.