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11/1/2010
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Are You Ready for Your ERP Close-up?

As part of a live webcast last week featuring executives from Torelli Bicycle Company, enterprise resource planning software leader SAP, and ERP implementation specialists to the small and midsize business market Navigator Business Solutions, we had the opportunity to conduct a live poll of the nearly 200 SMB companies in attendance.

As part of a live webcast last week featuring executives from Torelli Bicycle Company, enterprise resource planning software leader SAP, and ERP implementation specialists to the small and midsize business market Navigator Business Solutions, we had the opportunity to conduct a live poll of the nearly 200 SMB companies in attendance.We asked: "What is your current status with implementing your own ERP or business management software in your organization?" It comes as no surprise that the vast majority of SMBs have yet to implement an ERP system, even though most of them recognize the value and need for such a solution to manage their business.

Ironically, almost equal numbers of SMB respondents chose one of these two responses:

1. About 17 percent said, "We are happy with spreadsheets and related approaches and do not feel the need for any additional technology in our operations at this time." 2. Another 17 percent said, "We have already implemented ERP/business management software and have it integrated into our operations."

That leaves all the rest somewhere in the middle ground between "We recognize the benefit that ERP and business management software technology can deliver but have not begun to investigate our options," (44 percent) and "We have selected a vendor but have not begun implementation" (4.9 percent). The remaining 16 percent are either "actively evaluating vendors and solutions to begin a project" or have actually begun to short-list specific vendors for a near-term implementation.

The poll results came as no great surprise to Jeff Stiles, senior vice president of small and midsize enterprise (SME) marketing for SAP AG, a company known for its ERP solutions for large businesses. What may surprise others is just how invested SAP has become in the SMB/SME marketplace: The company now boasts that 90 percent of its more than 100,000 customers are actually small and midsize firms.

"It's certain that one answer doesn't fit all, but there are a couple of general trends," Stiles said regarding the poll results. "First, a lot of small businesses find themselves with a myriad of spreadsheets, and at some point, they outgrow the ability to work effectively across the different parts of the business [by] simply using manual processes or spreadsheets.

"The second thing we see an awful lot of is folks who work to automate a specific part of their business - and financials is the first [part] that many choose - and then they realize that they have outgrown that financials-only system. They may have a need to better manage distribution, customer service, or warranty and repairs, etc.," Stiles said. The result is often a gradual awakening to the benefits of a full-blown ERP solution that addresses all the critical information needs of their business.

To learn more, check out the webcast, "On Location Makeover: Torelli Races for the Finish Line with New ERP System ."

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