ERP is an acronym that you’re likely familiar with—"enterprise resource planning." When you first bought the software you likely thought that it would be the solution to all of your management and efficiency woes. But despite what its name suggest, ERP software doesn't necessarily provide much in the way of planning and resource management.
In reality, ERP software aims to integrate all departments across your company into a single computer system. The information contained in that computer system will then become available to all employees simultaneously, allowing them to better share information and do their jobs on a regular basis. The information is there, but you need the people who know what to do with it.
If you're looking for a way to fill in the gaps left behind by ERP solutions, however, you'll need to heavily invest in logistics solutions.
An ERP System Is Only One Part of the Puzzle
To understand how logistics solutions fill in the gaps left by ERP deployments, you must first understand what ERP deployments are actually good for.
Thanks to the presence of a centralized database, people in all departments can all see and update the same information at the same time. When a client calls the customer service department, for example, a customer service representative can immediately see the client's file. This employee is able to access archived data that shows why the client called in the past and what issues they were having then can note the nature of the current call.
When that same client calls the sales department a few days later, the sales representative has access to that updated data. They can follow up on the original customer service call and make sure that the caller isn’t forced to rehash any information that was already covered. This represents a better experience for the client overall and enables your staff to do their jobs in a much more efficient way.
What enterprise resource planning is not good at, however, is actually managing existing resources in any type of logical way. In order to fill in the gaps that are left by even the best ERP solutions, you'll need to use a variety of different logistics solutions with your business. If you're looking for a way to better manage both your product inventory and the ways in which those items are being shipped to customers, ERP solutions alone won't offer any practical help in getting the job done properly.
Instead, you'll need to integrate logistics solutions in with your existing ERP package for the best possible results.
Making the Pieces Fit
Supply chain management software will allow you to track items in your inventory and see where they're going to and coming from, for example. By integrating that supply chain management solution with your existing ERP deployment, the information can then be passed onto the relevant departments immediately.
The world of e-commerce also tends to fall outside the purview of your ERP. Many companies are reporting great difficulties when it comes to integrating the progress they're making in their existing ERP systems with any type of Internet element. Most ERP systems are not natively designed to work in such a way. Unless your business had the foresight to purchase one that was specifically designed for with a mind to e-commerce, you’ll also require additional logistics solutions to fill in the gaps left by ERP and to share the information contained within those systems to the widest possible audience.
One solution that many businesses are experimenting with has to do with software as a service solutions that place a heavy emphasis on cloud based storage. Due to the nature of the cloud, the information contained within these solutions is already being stored on the Internet and is therefore accessible from a wide variety of different devices.
Despite its name, ERP alone won't allow you to manage every aspect of your business with maximum efficiency. The technology is still in its (relatively) early days, so when you integrate your system, expect to incorporate the right combination of secondary logistics solutions.