How Open Source ERP helps every aspect of the business and what key first steps to take to ensure success
In today’s challenging business environment, where small and mid-size companies have been particularly hurt, many of these organizations—in manufacturing, services, construction, and more—experienced slim margins before COVID-19 impacted the world’s economy. These same companies are now reacting to increased market disruption—in sales, customer engagement, supply chain, and regulations. According to the U.S. chamber of commerce, 82% of small businesses are concerned about the pandemic’s impact.
Retaining and attracting new buyers in a recession and managing cash flow have taken on increased importance. And while every business already has a method for managing their data, whether it’s point software solutions, spreadsheets, or sticky notes, not every method works well.
And for companies that leverage software to manage processes, the situation is equally challenging. Even mid-sized companies can average using more than 20 software applications. Having separate software for accounting, manufacturing, sales, marketing, and field services results in duplicate efforts, duplicate data, and ultimately leads to waste and inaccuracy. Indeed, the cost of poor data in the U.S. alone is estimated at $3 trillion a year.
That’s where open source ERP systems help. Because ERP automates and integrates data and processes across multiple departments and locations, it allows companies to move products faster, process orders quicker, invoice customers more rapidly, and reconcile shipments sooner.
ERP solutions combine multiple organizational capabilities into a single, scalable, all-inclusive system that delivers speed, efficiency, and accuracy to business operations. One of the benefits of using ERP is that, through automation and integration, the system increases your organization’s productivity, visibility, and collaboration, while at the same time reducing time and labor costs.
Improve your business with open source ERP
Until recently, ERP was primarily used by large multinational companies because it was expensive to run and required a dedicated IT team. But today, millions of professionals worldwide, including people in small and mid-sized companies, use ERP solutions. And thanks in large part to the open source revolution – with lower costs, an active user community, and readily available software modules – it’s easier and more affordable than ever to implement a solution that meets every business need.
Whether you work in manufacturing, services, or other industries, you can benefit using open source ERP for multiple business functions:
From product to project management, from managing the warehouse and supply chain to delivering products and services to customers online, in-store, and in the field, ERP integrates your data to provide a single version of truth.
You can build better products and manage projects effectively using set budgets and milestones for accurate development and planning. You can also manage the supply chain with a clear, reliable, and timely view into fluctuations when they occur to better plan purchasing and sourcing from 3rd party vendors.
You can strategically manage warehouse fulfillment, so you maximize floor space and minimize waste. If you have a service department that does installation, maintenance, and repairs, you can empower logistics staff and remote crews to schedule service times that ensure fast delivery and happy customers.
And you can keep track of financials for all of this using a robust, integrated accounting system that includes cost accounting. It ensures that as products are made, that they stay within parameters or controls to ensure efficiency and remove waste.
Of course, industry-specific applications can be built to safeguard the same quality data that drives better decision-making.
Energy organizations can effectively manage capital projects to build new infrastructure, including managing external contractors with budgets. They can take advantage of CRM as a business development tool to create new customers or upsell and cross-sell. They can also ensure regulatory compliance, especially for rate case that is used to determine customer costs.
Aerospace companies can use tools for their unique business, particularly to monitor events occurring within the engineering. This includes materials acquisition, inventory modifications, subcontract fulfillment, work completions, and product shipments. Perhaps most important, open source ERP systems can help you bid on products yet to be fully defined.
With an integrated open source ERP platform, you tear down departmental silos, replacing multiple disparate applications with a single, integrated solution. CEOs and business leaders gain a clear view of what’s happening across the business to react to new market opportunities with confidence. And front-line staff perform their daily duties using intuitive, easily accessible data.
Where and how to start
For companies looking to deploy open source ERP, a critical step falls outside of software consideration. As part of the process, companies are forced to consider – or reconsider – their business processes and workflows. It’s a perfect opportunity to assess what makes sense, what works, what’s important, and what can be improved.
The success of your ERP project will have less to do with the software’s technical features and more to do with other factors. According to a Panorama Consulting Group report, business process reengineering and organizational change management are essential success factors for ERP implementation.
Addressing both requires building a business case first. Identify your key stakeholders and look at what you want your software to achieve, such as improving your financials, inventory controls, supply chain, sales cycle, etc. You’ll want to carry out a “conference room” pilot project to align software features against business processes. This is a low cost, low-risk method to validate three crucial parameters:
These sessions can typically last a week and help establish any remaining requirements. You can build a gap analysis, estimates, and priorities that can be included in the first phase of the implementation or moved into subsequent steps.
Part of the conversation should involve data migration. A general best practice is to do as little data migration as possible because of the cost, complexity, and return on value.
Test your systems and leverage integration partners
An essential item to remember is software testing. A simple checklist that works well:
Finally, for companies that don’t have a dedicated IT department or in-house expertise in implementing and integrating ERP solutions, the best way to achieve success is to partner with a consultant with in-depth knowledge and customer references. While these integration partners may not come cheap, the speed, efficiency, and effectiveness they bring will far surpass the initial investment. And ultimately, they help you maximize your open source investment so you can the fastest return on value possible.
You’ll want an integration partner that brings real business consultation services to the table. Specifically, look for partners that provide a consultation before they start work, demonstrate they understand your situation by way of previous experience with similar organizations in the same industry, and have a list references from other companies.
Harmonious business success
Especially in times of volatility and uncertainty, using different applications for each organizational function leads to data inaccuracy, poor processes, waste, and dissatisfied customers.
An open source ERP solution solves these challenges by integrating your business into a single system. Departments run the business using the same information, with one version of the truth for marketing, sales, manufacturing, shipping, customer service, and more. You equip everyone in the organization – no matter the size or industry you operate in – with timely, accurate, and complete information. This results in smarter decisions made faster and drives actual business growth even in uncertain times.
Want to learn more about how to build a single version of truth with open source ERP solutions? Visit www.opensourceintegrators.com/solutions.
What kind of data challenges does your business face? How could open source ERP help your organization grow? Comment below.
Greg Mader is the founder and president of Open Source Integrators (OSI), a global leader in open source business consulting and IT services. He’s an Army Veteran and entrepreneur, adept at managing large teams and complex projects, delivered on time and budget. His background includes leading and developing large and small teams, with a focus on communication, mission relevance, and improved deliveries. His expertise spans across strategic planning, project management, ERP, GIS, and other enterprise technologies.