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10/21/2010
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Focus on Financials: Why Tiny Torelli Took the ERP Plunge

A few years ago, the idea of a four-person company running a back-end business solution from SAP would have been an absurd suggestion. In the minds of most business executives who are familiar with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems from market leader SAP, the very name is synonymous with large-scale enterprise operations and implementation efforts measured in years and millions of dollars.

A few years ago, the idea of a four-person company running a back-end business solution from SAP would have been an absurd suggestion. In the minds of most business executives who are familiar with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems from market leader SAP, the very name is synonymous with large-scale enterprise operations and implementation efforts measured in years and millions of dollars.So where would the president of a tiny Southern California bicycle company get the idea that he could deploy an SAP solution and revolutionize his small business?

"I had some technology background, as well as an understanding of business and business processes, coming from a larger corporate background," Torelli Bicycle Co. CEO Todd Linscott explains in a video interview just posted to the InformationWeek SMB On Location website. It was enough to spark an idea: Linscott had witnessed firsthand the results that ERP technology could achieve for a Fortune 100 company. He reasoned that applying the same principles to a promising small business could achieve similarly spectacular results.

Linscott also knew something that still eludes most small business owners. In fact, it could be one of the best-kept secrets in the IT industry: ERP isn't just for big companies any more. Today, SAP and others are specifically targeting small and midsize businesses (SMBs) by offering appropriately scaled solutions that combine accounting, inventory and customer management, and related functions into an integrated system that can be deployed for a fraction of the cost of a traditional ERP implementation.

Even so, what could a company as small as Torelli really hope to gain from ERP? Linscott is happy to elaborate.

The company's brand-spanking-new SAP solution for SMBs "will enable us to have much more visibility with regard to our ongoing business, and more flexibility [to accomplish] some of the things we want to do," Linscott says. "For example, we'll be able to look at the gross profit of an invoice, and discounting may be offered at the time when you have the dealer on the phone." It's the kind of real-time, drill-down capability that a large company might expect as a matter of course, but for an SMB, it is still generally the stuff of dreams.

Want more examples of what ERP can do for an SMB like yours? Tune in to the live webcast, "Extreme SMB Technology Makeover: Torelli Races for the Finish Line with New ERP System," featuring Linscott and the rest of Team Torelli, as well as representatives from SAP and its partner, SMB integrator Navigator Business Solutions. Register now to participate in this groundbreaking interactive event, which takes place Wednesday, Oct. 27, at 2 p.m. EDT (11 a.m. PDT).

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