Small Business Technology
Written by Clayton Reeves for Gaebler Ventures
This article briefly goes over the idea of modules as they relate to enterprise resource planning. These modules can help provide lower cost alternatives to a complete system.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems can be a good fit for some businesses.
Applying the system in the correct manner can help avoid some costly and frustrating implementation hazards.
ERP modules are very important in helping your business run smoothly while you begin to upgrade and integrate the entirety of your operations.
A module is basically a part of an ERP system that you can purchase individually to meet your business needs. While vendors may point out that it is more costly to purchase them individually over the long run, it will, in the short run, give your firm flexibility and the opportunity to work with a vendor without a massive investment.
Here are some of the reasons that ERP modules work well for small businesses.
Modules allow your business to customize your ERP system based on your needs. Most ERP systems will have all of the capabilities you could ever need, and some that you won't. This makes for an expensive waste of resources and capabilities. By purchasing modules, your firm can get just what it wants and nothing that it doesn't. This will also allow the business to be flexible and implement these small parts one at a time. Flexibility will be a key advantage in being a small business, so making sure you don't lose that flexibility while you install a software package is important.
Buying modules also allows you to do what is called a best-of-breed customization. This involves adding on the best software packages from different vendors that can allow you get the best that every company has to offer. Middleware enables you to link these systems together so that they integrate and communicate efficiently and pain free.
Middleware is software that enables different pieces of software from different companies to communicate and integrate seamlessly. This is incredibly important when talking about modules, since most companies do not use identical standards when creating their software. The middleware can be a translator of sorts between these complex IT applications.
Modules allow you to install them individually in what could be seen as a staggered install. This will prevent your company from becoming overwhelmed with massive technology upgrades that could cripple your current productivity. Since modules are smaller, they can be implemented quickly with less training and downtime. Staggered installations are usually recommended for major software and IT projects, and the use of modules offers an implicit staggered implementation that your firm can take advantage of.
Modules are more cost effective to a certain extent. As mentioned above, individually they are less expensive, but in aggregate it may be cheaper to purchase a complete package. It all depends on the needs of your small firm and the capital you have to work with for upgrading your information technology. If you want to try part of an ERP system, it is a good way to hedge your risks as well. If a single module seems unsatisfactory, you'll be glad you didn't buy the whole system. This try-before-you-buy approach can have a very big ROI for your organization.
When he's not playing racquetball or studying for a class, Clayton Reeves enjoys writing articles about entrepreneurship. He is currently an MBA student at the University of Missouri with a concentration in Economics and Finance.
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