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ERP software and systems for the midmarket

The decision to purchase an ERP system can lead to a number of questions for IT professionals at SMBs. This guide offers tips and articles to address implementation issues.

The decision to purchase an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can lead to some challenging questions for IT professionals at midmarket companies:

  • Which ERP system offers the proper fit of software to business processes?
  • How fast is too fast when it comes to implementing ERP software?
  • What effect will the Oracle vs. SAP battle have on my organization?

This IT Management Guide offers tips and articles that answer those questions and more for IT pros tasked with launching ERP software and systems. For free advice and resources on other IT and business topics, visit our main IT Management Guide section.

Table of contents

    SMBs demand attention from business apps vendors -- and get it
    ERP implementation: Keep it simple
    SAP All-in-One vs. MS Dynamics
    ERP not just for manufacturers anymore
    CRM suites suit SMBs
    More resources

  SMBs demand attention from apps vendors Table of Contents

[Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer]

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are hip to the benefits of business applications.

Recent data from Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., shows that 83% of SMBs believe application software improves the efficiency of their companies' core operations and business processes; 80% believe software improves worker productivity, and 75% believe software makes their products and services better.

But until recently, the market has conspired against the little guys. Big-company software costs a lot, is complex and often requires extensive customization to work for SMBs. A new report from Forrester analyst Ray Wang provides ample evidence that software makers have wised up to the unmet demand. Brand-name vendors and challengers alike have invested significantly in new products and distribution channels.

"The result is improvement across the spectrum of industry-specific and last-mile capabilities, usability, rapid implementation, Microsoft Office integration and mobile solution support," says Wang, in his August 13 report, "Competition Intensifies For The SMB ERP Customer."

   Learn more in the full story, "SMBs demand attention from business apps vendors -- and get it." Also:

  • SAP for the midmarket: Special Report (SearchSAP.com)
    SAP continued its midmarket push in 2007 with the release of Business ByDesign. This SearchSAP.com Special Report provides news and analysis on SAP in the midmarket.

  ERP implementation: Keep it simple  Table of Contents

[Carol Hildebrand, Contributor]

ERP systems have traditionally been thought of as a pure enterprise type of technology, the thinking being that SMBs don't have the need for that comprehensive level of software.

More and more, however, SMBs are discovering that smaller size doesn't necessarily translate to less sophisticated accounting or sales or customer relationship management needs, and the ERP software market is expanding in the SMB sector.

"A lot of smaller companies are realizing the competitive advantage that lies with technology and process," said Joshua Greenbaum, principal of Enterprise Applications Consulting in Berkeley, Calif. "A company can be small in size but still compete in a global market against larger companies. These companies are becoming sophisticated consumers of technology."

   Find out more in "ERP implementation: Keep it simple." Also:

    • ERP implementations may fall short for hasty SMBs (SearchSMB.com)
      Researchers say small companies are making a mistake if they focus on speed of implementation with an ERP system. At least one small manufacturer says speed is inevitable when you're small.

  SAP All-in-One vs. MS Dynamics Table of Contents

[SearchSMB.com, SearchSAP.com]

For the giant multinationals of the world, SAP continues to be the dominant enterprise resource planning player. But once you move down a notch, the picture changes dramatically. Microsoft, once content to play second fiddle to SAP's ERP core, is quietly but steadily ramping up its Dynamics series with a uniform Dynamics package offering in the works for a 2008 release.

SAP's All-in-One product has many strong points, but so does Dynamics. On the flip side, either solution has its distinct weaknesses compared with the other guy. Which path is best for your company? And what can you expect in the years ahead? Will Microsoft's lower cost and ubiquitous presence (i.e., existing "beach heads") translate into market dominance, or will SAP continue its midmarket growth through focus on business values and technical finesse?

   Read the arguments for each side in "SAP All-in-One vs. MS Dynamics." Also:

  ERP not just for manufacturers anymore  Table of Contents

[Cindy Atoji, Contributor]

ERP has moved out of the old factory building and into shiny new headquarters. Though its roots are in large-scale manufacturing, ERP has evolved to address other functions and sectors, especially SMBs that require integrated systems in order to compete on a global playing field.

This new generation of ERP is more than a traditional accounting package -- it's "the brains of a company," managing all facets of operations, said Ray Wang, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. Most ERP systems have a central database with different modules -- supply chain, human resources, inventory, payroll and more -- that share access to common data. This collective brainpower is especially valuable to SMBs, which often run a disparate set of rusty legacy applications: personnel waste a lot of time keying in the same information over and over.

   Learn more in the full tip, "ERP not just for manufacturers anymore." Also:

  • SAP, Oracle may strive in vain for SMBs (SearchSystemsChannel.com)
    Oracle and SAP are trying to push their enterprise applications down into the midmarket, but few SMBs are looking for all-in-one enterprise resource planning applications not tweaked for their own vertical.

  CRM suites suit SMBs Table of Contents

[Sue Hildreth, Contributor]

Small and medium-sized businesses need customer relationship management (CRM) software just as much as their big-company competitors do. It not only automates many time-consuming sales and service-related tasks, such as fulfillment, but it also provides a 360-degree view of customer buying habits and problems.

But purchasing the right CRM system -- one that fits the budget and really works the way the staff needs it to -- can be daunting for a small firm. And price is almost always the first and most problematic stumbling block for SMBs.

"It always comes down to cost," said Jim Berkowitz, CEO of consulting firm CRM Mastery Inc., based in Denver. "I say to people, this is not about spending money. It's about making an investment that should bring a return to the business."

   Find out more in more in "CRM suites suit SMBs." Also:

  • CRM for SMBs: IT Management Guide
    CRM options for SMBs are rapidly increasing. This guide will help you make informed choices with CRM news for SMBs, product options, how-to tips and expert advice.

  • Business intelligence applications
    Read this excerpt from Business Intelligence: The Savvy Manager's Guide to learn about the various applications of business intelligence and how you can use information strategically to help your business.

  More resources Table of Contents

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