If you’re new to the exciting world of running your own business, you might find it a challenge just to tackle the everyday things. It’s understandable; running a company – even if it’s just a few people – means spending considerable time for what sometimes seems trivial.
Say, for example, you have a shop selling gifts and small decorative items you either resell from suppliers or that make yourself from materials you buy. This could be just a simple one man shop but we’re already talking about tracking products, materials and two types of suppliers while at the same time there are your customers and their orders of course, your collaborators, your accounting and so on. And that’s all assuming everything is under the same roof – not always the case if you have a warehouse or a shop in another city.
You could try to keep track of everything using pen and paper or a spreadsheet or a combination of the two but ultimately you’ll find that that system doesn’t scale. You have to be professional about it and get yourself a proper solution.
Fortunately, this is no longer hard to find nor understand how it works and neither does it cost an arm and a leg to benefit from. It’s called ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and is already a mature concept as it has gone through a number of improvements since its inception decades ago. The current trend is all about finding this solution in the form of software as a service, i.e online, constantly updated with new features and for a very small cost.
In what follows I’ll briefly describe a few of the most important players in the industry aimed particularly at the small and medium business.
Megaventory focuses on inventory management and handling sales and purchases and is ideal for the new entrepreneur who wants to balance a rich number of features with a short time to learn the platform due to its user-friendly interface. Other features include tracking materials, managing contacts and documents and providing business intelligence to the entrepreneur. Prices start at 29USD for 5 users and 5 locations.
You can really take advantage of a service like this if you have a greater understanding of what goes behind your average business. I’d say one of the best ways to gain knowledge in this area is to go out there and earn a Master’s in Business Intelligence Degree. Believe it or not, you can easily obtain a degree of this nature through online schools. These schools are just as legitimate as a conventional college, and they allow you to live your life while bettering yourself and paving the way towards a prosperous new career. It can’t hurt to shop around and see what’s best for you. Nothing ventured. Nothing gained.
Erply is a fully-featured service, with a strong suit in offering a Point of Sale (PoS) functionality either via the desktop or the tablet you happen to use anyway in your business. Other powerful elements it has include handling inventory, price quotes and invoices and quite a bit of Customer Resources Management (CRM), i.e. managing your interactions with your customers, suppliers and collaborators. Packages start from USD 70 for 2 users and 50K product codes.
ERPNext is another nice and simple ERP service aimed for SMBs with a rich number of modules. They offer solutions for accounting, inventory management, CRM, purchases and POS but also branch out to other sectors like project and human resources management. Most interestingly, they have open sourced their technology and offer all their elaborate packages in a simple pricing scheme just 7 USD per month.
MyERP is a California startup which is offering its minimalistic ERP for small companies with an innovation right at its core. They are betting on natural language processing to make the service more user friendly while primarily offering CRM, accounting, inventory and document managament as well as business intelligence -related services. Usage is free for up to two users and 29 USD per month after every user past that.
Brightpearl.com is another option with a breadth of offerings including accounting, CRM, sales & purchases and project management as a minimum. Inventory management and POS capabilities are charged separately but starting from 59 USD per user per month seems like an choice worth considering given its support for B2B and services clients something that is relatively sparse in its competitors.
So there you are, five of the top-notch ERP providers that are aimed specifically for the small and medium business. What’s more, all these are all based on the internet which means less issues for your business to take care of (no maintenance, updates, backup, security matters to concern you) allowing you and your employees to focus on your core business challenges.
About the Author: Blog post by Dimitris Athanasiadis who blogs professionally for megaventory.com among others.
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