For SMEs the ability to run the company operations on a platform that enables the flow of information has never been more affordable and within reach now than at any point in the last 20 years.
Enterprise Resource planning (ERP) systems are the only systems that have the breadth of functionality to run a company's operations on a single platform across various departments.
ERP Cost of ownership
The affordability and total ownership cost of these systems has improved by a factor of at least 10 in comparison to previous offerings in this space with Odoo S.A changing the game with their Open Source led model to iterate and keep pace with constantly evolving technical advances at a fraction of the cost of traditional ERP systems. Odoo License Pricing
Many companies have built up a tool set of products they use over the years and the disparate nature of information held in silos when moving to a digital age is a headache that all companies need to streamline and resolve to smooth out operations.
The reason why Odoo S.A wins in this regard is their business suite is extensive to cover all aspects a company would need to evolve into the digital space and for specifics that are added on for a company there is no expensive Software Development Kit (SDK) license thats prohibitive to evolving your platform unlike other "closed" systems. This flexibility is paramount for companies evolving into the digital age.
IT Architecture and Landscape
The real question founders and CTO's have to answer when building out their operations in this day and age is what platforms should we start with?
In most cases the business delivers the service to consumers either through a custom application or a website. When building out the business landscape the founding team works on the revenue elements to ensure the service delivery to consumers finds the right product market fit with the bespoke platform that supports the product / service.
The next platform that businesses should procure and most do not is an ERP system to handle the operational flow of the organisation.
Why do most companies not use an ERP at the outset of their operations? Take your pick from any of the reasons below and this would be true as of 10 -15 years ago but the game has changed and moved forwards significantly and most of these reasons do not apply today.
- ERP licensing costs are too expensive
- Lack of choice in the marketplace in relation to using a "User friendly" ERP
- ERP's implementations are expensive and complex
- Only companies of a certain size need an ERP
- ERP's are too complex and are the preserve of large companies
The marketplace is served by a whole host of companies that offer software solutions to do certain operational functions in a simpler manner than traditional ERP systems. The danger of picking different systems as you evolve is well documented and leaves you with a spaghetti type headache and means are at the mercy of your internal IT teams and a whole host of vendors.
How would you know when you have information leaking from the sieve if you have no idea where the holes in your system architecture are? Therein lies the risk and the more tools and spreadsheets you continue to rely on the higher the risk and it means you still run an organisation with the handbrakes on.
ERP Adoption Strategy
Realistically companies from 1 single user and less than 1 month old can start using an ERP to ensure that they keep track of operations digitally and also to put controls and processes in place from the beginning as this becomes the standard they work towards to have everyone in the company working off the same platform in operations.
Odoo has various flavours and there is a community version which is free to use with no licensing, It's not as feature rich as the Enterprise product but for brand new companies still finding their feet in the marketplace it would make sense to start there to keep costs low as you progress on your journey. Community vs Enterprise Feature Comparison
Resist the temptation to customise the community version heavily for specifics you know you will like to add (except you are using it as a start point to build your own bespoke platform and have the software development resources to make a success of it).
Look at the apps store which has a whole host of 3rd party providers in the biggest business apps store in the world, for a requirement that can work for you.
Check the modules by the Odoo Community Association first as they work closely with Odoo and the wider business community globally to evolve aspects of the business suite, but there are good submissions by other organisations in the ecosystem.
If all else fails, contact your local Odoo partner and it's likely they would have come across the requirement and in some cases have developed a specific module to satisfy your requirement.
A change of mindset is required by lots of organisations to utilise the power of ERP systems to drive their digital transformation. For the SME market Odoo ERP is the perfect fit for the current times. To help you on your journey more information on embarking on your digitisation programme is available here