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Sometimes it’s easy for a small business to think they simply can’t use the same tools that are employed by larger companies. But this thinking not only short-changes small business, it also limits how much they can grow. The fact is that there’s plenty smaller companies can learn from the big guys.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is perhaps the best example of this. Some small business owners see articles and tools related to ERP and simply don’t bother reading on as they think it can’t help them. But ERP can help companies of every size and from pretty much every industry.

What Is ERP?

If you’re not familiar with the idea and concepts behind it ERP it can seem a bit overwhelming at first. At its core, ERP is exactly what it sounds like — a way to allocate resources now and in the future so that a business can work smart instead of simply working harder.

ERP works by integrating software packages and online tools in order to manage and analyze literally every aspect of your business. ERP systems pull data from production, storage, shipping, human resources, marketing and technology in order to create a comprehensive view of a company.

Considering the scope and aims of ERP software it’s easy to see why small business owners have traditionally viewed it as something exclusive to big companies. In fact, ERP was originally developed with larger companies in mind. This is because it becomes so much more difficult to see the big picture when you’re working with a large company. A smaller business may not have the vast array of data a big company does, but that doesn’t mean it can’t benefit from an ERP system.

How ERP Can Help Small Business

Recently, xTuple announced its plans to begin catering to small and mid-size business. This has made waves throughout the business community as xTuple had previously focused on larger businesses and their proprietary software has become a well-known staple for many larger companies.

This expanded service heralds a new age for the relationship between ERP systems and small businesses. With increased exposure and accessibility to ERP systems such as this, smaller companies can now get simple business intelligence for small businesses. That means an increased ability to monitor and forecast both inventory and sales, helping small businesses to run leaner, more efficiently and ultimately with greater success.

So how can an ERP approach developed for huge companies be applied to the small business scene? The answer is simpler than you probably think. It begins by taking sales and inventory software for small business in order to integrate their data. With this as a foundation, ERP software can then incorporate other software and cloud-based apps in order to create a cohesive and comprehensive view of the company.

For companies already using any cloud inventory application, an ERP program such as this can extend the benefits of these programs through a number of ways. A high quality ERP package allows companies to

  • Offer self-service options for customers online — allowing them to check orders easily
  • Offer exclusive products and services to select customers by integrating sales data with marketing
  • Manage outside sales through multiple vendors on behalf of the company or for larger customers
  • Tweak customer drives experiences including special pricing, tailored upsell offers and special notifications
  • Give customers better access to account information so they can view historical purchase data, add shipping addresses and otherwise customize their own account

At the end of the day, this not only streamlines internal processes for a company, but it also improves their overall customer service by giving customers what they want — control.

ERP may have been developed with larger business in mind, but that doesn’t mean smaller companies are left out. xTuple’s release of services that cater to small and mid-size business heralds a new age for small business in terms of being able to integrate data and turn that information into useable, actionable and powerful business intelligence.