How the à la carte trend of ERP software is changing things

Published on: November 21, 2018

With the rapid adoption of the cloud and SaaS-based pricing models, software solutions otherwise out of many users’ price ranges are now brought within reach. In recent years, many accounting solutions have sprung up with the intent to solve very specific business needs. Users are able to pick and choose several different applications, each dedicated to a specific business need, and string them together for a tailored accounting/financial management solution. In a way, this integrated ecosystem is the modern version of what we consider an ERP software system.

In contrast to a traditional ERP, this ‘fragmented’ ERP software system does not belong to a single manufacturer, therefore, data is distributed amongst the manufacturer of each application. This may be seen as a drawback, however, robust integrations now exist between many of these applications which allow users to quickly visualize combined data and make informed business decisions.

That being said, let’s take as an example, a small, boutique software startup with a need to quote and invoice their customers. Sure, they have other business needs as well, but would they invest in a full-blown ERP system or would they be more likely to purchase an application dedicated to the quotation/invoice process? To answer that question, let’s look at a few of the benefits of the latter:

  • Low Upfront Cost – low cost of ownership
  • User Experience – not bogged down by unnecessary functionality/modules
  • Subject Matter Expert – applications are built for a specific purpose by people who thoroughly understand user’s potential use cases

That all sounds great, but now what happens when they hire 5 employees and need to track payroll as well? Surely, their quotation/invoice application cannot also handle payroll. Well, they could integrate with a different application or service dedicated to payroll, pay their employees, and later do some combined reporting between the two applications. With the introduction of cloud-based BI platforms, such as Power BI, companies can access and consolidate the data they need into a single platform to gain visibility across their various business processes and applications.

Furthermore, with increased usability and automation these applications provide, accountants can now focus on adding value and making a difference rather than focusing on low-value tasks to manage the data and system.

The use case described above is one where the user is looking for an affordable solution to address a specific need within a short time frame. With innovative platforms like Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Financials, users can tailor the ERP experience to their specific needs by being able to select which modules they work with, add additional applications for their specific verticals, and integrate with technologies like PowerApps and Flow to allow remote data entry into the system, as well as expose current financial data to stakeholders using PowerBI.

In today’s world, where we have grown dependent on having access to data (movies, news, etc.) instantly, on multiple devices, we have also come to expect the same kind of latency from the business applications we use daily. With that in mind, why not use a system which is flexible enough to cover your specific business functions but also not bog down your employees with exhaustive processes not creating additional value?

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