For many companies, the term “business management software” is a bit confusing. After all, there are scores of planning, reporting and recording systems on the market, and they all have a hand in the process management of business processes. Is it a catch-all for ERP, CRM and EAM in general, or does it describe something tangible and specific?
Well, firstly, business management software is a specific tool. However, it’s often used to talk about things like enterprise planning, forecasting and inventory control. This is because it involves all of these things to varying degrees, plus a lot more. It’s a unifying, umbrella-type system that brings all of your key business processes together.
For this reason, business management software is a preference for many businesses, rather than a necessity. Some companies are happier working with standalone software for financials, recruitment, inventory, accounting, distribution, customer relationships, document management, marketing and everything else. Others are eager to implement a streamlined system that’s integrated across the board.
The Four Key Elements of Business Management Software
Broadly speaking, most business processes can be categorized into one of four groups. Traditionally, companies have invested in a separate piece of software (sometimes several) for each group. However, business management solutions provide a system that covers it all in a single product.
Financial transactions are the beating heart of a company. Fortunately, they’re comprise some of the simplest processes to handle in terms of capturing and recording. Every piece of financial data is noted and used to produce monthly, quarterly and yearly reports.
These applications also include the monitoring of accounts receivable and payable. The financial status of a company is a big indicator of whether it’s functioning efficiently. Proper accounting of this data is one of the essential tasks for meeting legal requirements, managing staff and, of course, increasing profits.
The commercial side of business management software involves the capturing of purchase and sales orders. This is an important part of assessing current demand, while determining how/if it’ll change in the future. These decisions have a direct impact on inventory.
A smooth flow of information is vital for all business processes, but it’s particularly important when it comes to stock rotations and ordering. The data generated by the system must be accurate, or there could be costly mistakes, overspending or stock deficits.
Customer Relationship Management
The handling of customer relationships can make or break a company. It’s why there are so many standalone CRM solutions, all promising numerous tools to enhance purchasing journeys. It’s up to you whether you want to give this area an on-point solution or whether an integrated business management suite is sufficient.
Transparency is key here. All departments that make contact with customers must be privy to the same information. Customer histories have to be complete and unbroken, so that marketers, sales advisors and advice teams are working towards a common goal.
Business intelligence and Big Data are still relatively new, but they’re already considered one of the essential features for productivity. In simple terms, business intelligence refers to the ability (via software) to capture and process huge amounts of data about all kinds of different things.
The most valuable application is forecasting. For instance, if you were to collect data from the right sources, you could find out what month of the year a product sells fastest, if poor weather is likely to affect sales and how demand is going to rise or fall over the next quarter.
The Benefits of Investing in Business Management Software
So, we know that business management software isn’t a unique solution. It brings together disparate applications in an optimized, integrated form. The question is: are there demonstrable benefits to swapping the standalone platform you already have for an all-in-one solution? And does this unified system warrant the additional investment?
Increases Process Efficiency
The reality is that unification itself is a big asset. If you pick the right software solution and incorporate it correctly, you have a chance to substantially improve process efficiency. Business management software consolidates the day-to-day tasks of running a company and places them in one easy-to-use platform.
When using individual applications, duplication of tools is inevitable. Personnel is bound to end up processing or capturing the same information multiple times. This is wasteful, and it increases the capacity for error. With an integrated system, data is stored and edited communally, so everybody can see what everybody else is doing. Even more important, everyone uses the same data, so there’s never a fear of duplicate or inaccurate data.
When data is split between multiple software systems, it’s disparate and difficult to unify. Oftentimes, it can be tricky to get a clear picture of how the business is performing. With process management, the information from each application or process is fed into a centralized database.
If the software is scalable, you should be able to add a great many data sources, on top of key bases like CRM reports, nominal ledgers and inventory forecasts. Together, they provide an accurate picture of performance. With more clarity and knowledge, it’s easier for decision makers to get empowered and make changes that drive productivity.
Significant Cost Savings
It’s worth mentioning the reduced cost of installing one software solution as opposed to four, five or more. Obviously, you’ve got to think about the expense of previous platforms if you were originally using standalone applications. It may feel like paying twice for the same features, at least at first.
However, over time, reduced maintenance costs should start to have an impact. Naturally, it’s easier to care for and operate a single piece of software. Frequently, standalone systems aren’t even part of one product line up, so they all have different requirements. This is tedious, and operational costs are significantly higher.
Choosing the Right Business Management Vendor
Business management software can be simultaneously simple and complex. It’s easy to use and install, but it’s responsible for managing a great deal of activity and information. For this reason, it’s imperative that you pick your vendor carefully.
Wherever possible, prioritize scalable solutions that have the ability to grow alongside your company. That way, you won’t find yourself having to buy a whole new system five years (or less) down the line. The best platforms have flexible applications that expand with little cost or effort.