How Large Does a Business Have to Grow Before it is Ready for Enterprise Software?
Most businesses need more than one type of software application for their employees to do their jobs. For example, your accountant will need accounting software, while your sales team needs customer relationship management software. It is likely your staff will have overlapping software needs as well. If you’re running a smaller company with only a handful of employees, using standard software applications is probably fine. However, once your business begins expanding in size and you form larger departments within your company, the use of such software will become much more inefficient. The solution for bigger companies is to invest in enterprise software.
What is Enterprise Software?
Enterprise software is a scalable software solution configured to the needs of your company. It’s designed specifically for company-wide use or for use by large departments or teams, whereas simple software applications are designed for use by only one employee at a time.
More specifically, enterprise software is a company-wide solution that allows you to access, store, and change large amounts of data and that supports and/or automates multiple processes that depend on that data. It’s worth noting, however, that not all enterprise software is the same. In fact, there are many different types of enterprise software solutions that have different components and functions. Some of the common types of enterprise software include scheduling, accounting, customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, salesforce automation, IT service management, and more.
Let’s look at a basic customer relationship management enterprise software for example. Such enterprise solutions can be customized to allow for numerous functions and capabilities across multiple departments. Your sales team would be able to record customer information, such as personal information, product information, and client location information. Your customer service reps could use the same enterprise software to track client problems and communication as well as internal responses and updates. Employees building your products would be able to obtain information regarding client specifications. Finally, the software would allow your company’s managers to track clients as well as employee performance.
Enterprise software may have several pricing models, including purchasing software licenses and paying annual maintenance, or a recurring subscription model which is becoming more popular. You may also have options to host the software at a service provider — such as a Software as a Service (SaaS) or other cloud provider — or host the software on your own servers at your facilities.You can purchase enterprise software from many different types of companies; however, you will also need to configure or customize the software to fit your needs using system integrators or in-house developers.
What are Some of the Main Benefits of Enterprise Software?
Instead of using the same standard software packages available to SMBs or individual consumers, there are a number of reasons why you should think about switching to enterprise software as your business continues to grow. The following are some of the main benefits of investing in enterprise software:
One of the biggest advantages of enterprise software is the ability to collect, access and analyze valuable data from a centralized system. When it comes to individual software packages, companies will often run into bottlenecks that weigh down their business processes, especially when it comes to sharing information between departments. Enterprise software makes the flow of information between departments much more efficient, thereby making many tasks less time-consuming, allowing for the elimination of unnecessary processes, and helping prevent miscommunication between departments.
Additionally, you can collect specific data based on the processes you have in place, allowing you to automatically generate reports based on key performance indicators that will identify how efficient your processes are. This allows you to determine whether your business processes have become bloated over time as the needs of your company change, and to identify any issues that need to be addressed to streamline your processes.
The use of enterprise software makes it easier to have a company-wide overview of your resources since there won’t be any bottlenecks in the flow of information between departments. In fact, enterprise software like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems will help you integrate all of your processes, from finance to supply chain to procurement and more, into a single system. This not only allows for better visibility of your resources, it makes it easier to analyze your resources in relation to one another. It also makes resource allocation a less complicated process.
Large companies often have a significant amount of especially sensitive data on their network, from financial data to personal customer data (such as credit card information). Any kind of data breach or data loss can do irreparable damage to the company’s reputation, not to mention financial standing.
Sometimes you risk sacrificing security for convenience. For example, the flow of information from one department to another may seem like a potential security risk since that data is easier to access. Additionally, you may want to allow your employees to access your network remotely so that they can work on their projects and access the data they need when they are outside of the office. An inability to access your network remotely can be detrimental to your company’s efficiency. For example, someone taking notes during a meeting outside the office will have to wait until they get back to the office to upload their notes — which is not a productive use of their time.
Fortunately, many enterprise software solutions come with security features that will help keep your data safe, such as the ability to control who is able to access certain types of data within your company. The use of passwords and security tiers can help limit the access employees have to certain data based on the department they are in or the position they hold. There are also encryption tools available, which are particularly helpful due to the fact that enterprise solutions allow data to be shared throughout your network from department to department.
Many enterprise solutions also come with system management features that allow you to automate the installation of recently released software application patches or updates to ensure that any existing software vulnerabilities are addressed as soon as possible so they don’t leave your application or network exposed.
Better Decision Making
Good decision making relies heavily on your knowledge of your company’s processes and resources as well as your ability to analyze the relevant data available to you. The ability to look at the data and processes of each individual department and to analyze their efficiency and effectiveness using built-in analytics tools allows you to make better business decisions that can improve the operations of your company, both internally and externally.
Who Traditionally Use These Systems?
It’s not just businesses, such as professional services, distribution services, manufacturing services and construction services that benefit from enterprise solutions. It is also large-scale organizations of any kind, including healthcare organizations, schools, and more. The bigger the organization is, the more dependent they’ll be on using enterprise solutions.
The reason is simple: larger companies have more departments. The use of departments helps to keep the operations of a company (or organization) more efficient. The more — and bigger — the departments are, the greater the need is to streamline processes, manage resources, and to share and secure data.
Take for example a hospital. Hospitals consist of many different departments responsible for different aspects of how a hospital operates. These departments are made up of many different employees. Although they have different responsibilities, they need access to the same data to perform their jobs efficiently and effectively.
For example, a doctor will need access to medical histories to help diagnose a patient and prescribe treatment. This means they will need access to results from any tests performed by the lab and tech departments. The front desk receptionists are responsible for scheduling patients and often for handling billing and making transactions, which means they need to know what services they are being scheduled for and what they are being charged for. As you can see, everyone working at a hospital is dependent on the data collected from other departments to do their jobs.
However, if you run a tiny dental practice that consists of a dentist, a nurse, and a receptionist, you can probably function well with standard software solutions because it’s easier to remain organized with a smaller staff.
Can Small Business Benefit from Enterprise Software?
Although enterprise software is more essential for larger businesses, it doesn’t mean smaller companies can’t benefit from its implementation. For example, you should always have an eye towards the future. If you are planning to expand your business, investing in enterprise software will help you set up good initial processes so you won’t have to worry about any inefficiencies developing as your company grows. It’s worth noting that enterprise software is scalable, which means that once you’ve put it into place, you won’t have to constantly replace it the bigger your company gets.
The use of enterprise software can help your smaller or mid-sized company in the present as well. Some of the processes being used by your employees or departments may not be very efficient. If your employees are spending too much time on certain tasks, it can slow down the operations of your company. An enterprise solution will help reduce inefficiencies in your operations and can eliminate unnecessary processes, which can be incredibly beneficial for smaller companies that need to use their limited resources as effectively as possible.
Lastly, the use of enterprise solutions will help you make better business decisions no matter how large your company is. If you have a smaller company, good business decisions will help grow your business faster, while poor decisions can significantly hinder your growth.
How do you Know When Your Company Can Benefit from Enterprise Software?
If it’s obvious that your company is experiencing growth because you’re taking on more business and hiring more employees, you should strongly consider investing in enterprise software. But there are other ways to determine if you could benefit from its use as well.
Take the time to evaluate your business management processes. If you can identify where you are struggling as well as any forms of mismanagement that are causing you to lose resources or sales, then something needs to be done to eliminate inefficiencies and to streamline your processes. There’s a very good chance that if you identify such issues in your business processes, it may be time to implement enterprise software.