What Is An ERP System And How Does It Work? Best Guide 2021

ERP System. Have you come to feel that the teams of your agency are not well connected with each other and with the mission of the company? That the information is out of order and, because of this, the relationship with your customers was negatively affected? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, it is a sign that you need an ERP. Read on to learn more!

ERP System

For a marketing or marketing agency to be successful and achieve its goals, the workflow needs to be very well organized, and this includes a system that is tailored to your needs, such as an ERP.

It is common that people who have or work in agencies have heard of the term, and it is very likely that they have doubts about its operation and importance. That is why we created this article in which we talk about the subject divided into the following points:

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Shall we start?

What is an ERP System (Enterprise Resource Planning)?

ERP is the acronym for Enterprise Resouce Planning, that is, enterprise resource planning. In short, it is software used by companies (including agencies) to manage all the tasks related to daily work, such as:

  • finance;
  • sales;
  • purchases;
  • Projects;
  • marketing;
  • support;
  • among others.

In this way, ERP provides a complete solution for corporate management so that you can use it as a tool to collect all the actions carried out in each department of the organization and bring the expected commercial results.

For this to happen, the ERP system unites all the processes used in the company in a homogeneous way. So, for example, you don’t need the sales team to have information about a customer and the service team to have a duplicate data file about that same customer.

After all, ERPs are developed precisely to store a lot of information in order to optimize all the agency’s services. Therefore, for companies that work collaboratively in the most diverse sectors, this is an important tool.

The history of ERP System

The term was first used in 1990 by the Gartner Group, an American research company that was looking for a way to control the management of its most diverse resources, such as:

  • finance;
  • HR;
  • sales;
  • Logistics;
  • among others.

Since then, the system has been increasingly developed to meet the needs of any type of business. Thus, even in the 1990s, not only companies joined the ERP for commercial purposes, but also governments and non-governmental organizations.

From this, ERP developers began to offer solutions that would serve the business sectors, both separately and together. Later, the use of this solution became more and more common in business management.

ERP expansion

Even in the 90s, the ERP system had a growth that reached a “boom” of expansion in the year 2000, a time in which companies opted to replace their old management systems and the first option that occurred to them was ERP.

As Marketing 2.0 (a term coined by Philip Kotler ) was at its peak at the time, focusing on the customer was very important. And having a good relationship with them was essential, which is built from the moment companies come to know what precisely each client wants.

However, if your portfolio has more than a thousand clients, how can you know or remember the objectives of each one when contacting your company? Well, sales teams talk to many potential customers every day, service or Customer Success teams also communicate with several customers a day. Of course, they do not remember the peculiarities of others, but customers want you to remember them, they want to feel loved. This is good for business.

As much as companies tend to focus on customer acquisition and retention, these are not the only points that guarantee the success of a company, especially advertising agencies. They also count financial efficiency, speed of customer service, among other tasks.

Plus, it makes your organization’s workflow work better. At the end of the day, thanks to ERP it is possible to consult the commercial history since the client hired your company, the doubts that they communicated to the service team, the CS reports, the financial history (even to know if the client is at day regularly).

In this way, all departments will be aligned with general customer information, which is critical to their retention and success. In case he wants to abandon your company, for example, the CS can use these elements to his advantage by saying something like:

You hired our agency for objective X and we are on the right track. I see that the finance department was able to ease the charges and that you gave the best marks for the service. This is because we care about your success. Are you sure you want to leave our association?

Thus, ERP is capable of bringing together several points that are part of your agency’s management: customer success management (CSM), customer relationship management ( CRM ), business intelligence ( BI ), among others.

The trend is that ERP systems increasingly cover the various functions and roles that companies have in their most varied segments, eliminating the practice of organizing everything in spreadsheets so that everything is organized in one place.

What is an ERP for?

ERP System

Some people may think that an ERP is simply a task organizer for all departments of a company, that is, a simple substitute for the old form of management that usually consists of many software, spreadsheets, and documents. However, it is only the tip of the iceberg.

ERP is made up of a series of tools that, used together, improve all the work of an organization, increasing the effectiveness of the results and optimizing the time of each employee, and all this results in what everyone strives to achieve: higher profitability.

Furthermore, an ERP reduces the complexity of your operations so that you know precisely what is happening within your company. If in the past it was not possible to know what each team was doing, how effective or not their tasks were being, through an ERP you can do it right now. The owners and managers need easy access to all of this information to make sure everything works properly.

If this is not done, you are vulnerable to loss of control and productivity of the actions of the organization. For example, how can you know the level of conversion of prospects to customers if the only access to that information is a Google Drive spreadsheet that only the seller has access to? As for the service tickets, how do you know how satisfactory they are if the registration is made in a notebook that is on the attendees’ table?

Therefore, tools such as ERP are essential to organize the work of all your teams safely. Although there are other solutions that we will talk about later in this post.

What is the format of an ERP?

As you can see so far, the format of an ERP is a unifier, because it brings together the main processes of a company – marketing, sales, customer success, support, purchasing, finance, human resources – in one place. This allows all teams to be even more connected in the activities they have in common.

The ERP system can collect data in this way because it is developed for this purpose. In this way, all the information collected is available and in a format that is easy to understand for all members of the company. This data can include anything from a meeting with the sales team to the list of monthly payments.

How does the ERP system work in companies?

ERP System

In short, the ERP system was created to store information about a company and thus facilitate the work of its employees. After all, the lack of a central language in business makes work difficult considering that each team or even each member has a different way of working and this can impair communication.

Although it is a small company where it is necessary to juggle to understand the work of the other, this is not a good practice. If the company grows and the number of employees increases, this habit will multiply and cause problems as big as the size of the growth.

That is why, from the beginning, making everyone adapt to a homogeneous way of working is the most correct thing to do. For this to be possible, it is necessary to incorporate management software that performs this function. Fulfilling this purpose is what ERPs should do in companies.

How is ERP applied in the routine of companies?

In theory, it is easy to understand how an ERP works, but the big question is how it is actually applied in the daily life of companies. The first point to understand is the goal of the system: to help the employees of the organization to do their jobs more effectively.

In short, the ERP must convey to everyone the awareness of everything that happens within the company, which includes all the mistakes and successes of each department or station. In this way, it is possible to see where productivity is failing and what are ways to optimize them so that the company achieves the objective desired by everyone.

Although everyone knows the area in which they work – the sales clerk, the support assistant, among others – the exchange of information is necessary so that improvements can be shared.

The salesperson can tell the assistant what the most common pains of customers are. On the other hand, the assistant can inform the finance department are the main reasons why clients experience difficulties paying monthly fees for recurring services.

This makes companies look for solutions like ERP so that these actions can be carried out among their members.

What are the benefits that ERP offers?

ERP System

Now that you know what an ERP system is and what its functions are, it is time for you to discover what are the main benefits it can generate for your business.

Increase profitability

When we talk about costs, we must take into account not only the total that the company must pay at the end of the month to continue operating but also those factors or processes that lead it to pay those costs or invoice less. Do you think some examples?

In order for a salesperson to attract more customers to the business, he must have a good understanding of the needs of each potential consumer, regardless of the number of meetings he has with them. If you have all that information at hand you can sell more. But how do you do that?

If the number of uncollectible payments increases, the finance department should look for these clients by phone, email, among other communication channels. Now, how to do this if there are many defaulters on the card?

ERP is a solution to record the information necessary for teams to complete their tasks. This functionality will increase your cash flow.

Automation

In case you are wondering how the activities mentioned above can be executed, don’t worry, we already tell you!

The ERP has automation tools so that the tasks to be carried out do not depend solely on manual operations. Therefore, messages can be scheduled to be sent on the most suitable days and times for conversion, reminders can notify the time of each task (such as an important call, for example).

Therefore, ERP becomes the assistant of each member of your company to enforce all the activities that must be carried out.

Transparency and security

If in an organization the person who attends the support service has no idea of ​​what the salesperson is doing, and the salesperson does not even know what techniques the CS uses to retain customers, it is a clear sign that the work process between teams is highly decentralized and uncoordinated.

It is important that everyone is connected to have good communication and avoid rework. After all, if it is not clear that a task has been completed, another collaborator may end up doing it again unnecessarily.

This also provides greater security considering that everyone knows what is going on within the organization. For example, if the support assistant is talking to a customer who asks a question related to another department, he can respond by accessing the information stored in the ERP.

Greater control over sales

Do you know by heart how many sales your business made in the last month? No? Well, don’t worry, the most common thing is not knowing this information instinctively. However, that does not mean that you cannot have greater control over your sales.

One of the advantages of ERP is precisely this when organizing all the sales made, it is easier to know not only their total invoices but also other important points such as the average ticket and the conversion rate of prospects for customers.

By knowing this information, you can quickly identify areas for improvement, guide sales reps to improve their approaches, and thus sell more.

 How to implement an ERP system in your agency?

ERP System

To do this implementation, it is not enough to simply buy or contract the software, period. Before doing this, it is necessary to raise the elements that we highlight below so that this decision is consistent.

Define your project

It is useless to have the best car in the world if it does not have fuel and the same happens with any system that you want to implement in your company. No matter how good it is, it will hardly pay off if it is not based on a strategy.

Therefore, the first step to implement an ERP is to define your project, that is, what business objectives your organization wants to achieve and what are the ways in which the system will help you achieve it.

Evaluate your provider carefully

In the same way that a client, when buying a product or service from your company, needs your support in case of a problem (especially if your offer is a service), you also need to have that support when hiring an ERP.

Therefore, before closing a deal with the first supplier that appears, try to evaluate it well. Hold as many meetings as necessary to clear up any questions and make sure it’s the right software for you.

So do your research online to find out more about the ERP provider. Find out if there are any complaints on any claims site, talk to other customers who use the service to find out their level of satisfaction, and other things that you consider necessary to ensure that it is the best option.

Do a business impact analysis

Just as well-known software clients do not hire them because they are beautiful programs to look at, but because of their ability to generate results, you must do the same for your business when choosing to contract an ERP.

So, focus on understanding the impact that software can have on your business. Selling this type of solution, being a complex process, requires several meetings to be held with the prospect to ensure that the product in question is the most appropriate.

As the prospect, in this case, it will be you, ask everything you need to the representative who attends you to sell a solution like this. Express your goals and challenges to him so that he can explain to you how the system will address them for your organization to be successful.

training

This is another point that requires your attention: to know if the company that develops the ERP includes training that will help you and your collaborators to use the tool. Returning to the example of the car, there is no use having one with the best fuel, but not knowing how to drive. That is why training is essential to get the most out of the tool.

When we talk about training, we are not referring to tutorials with generic explanations, but to a company representative dedicated to explaining to all their teams how ERP should be applied in each sector of the agency: marketing, customer service, finance,  HR. HH, among others.

 What are the fundamental characteristics of an ERP?

ERP System

Something that you should also take into account when planning the implementation of an ERP in your company, is to know its main characteristics, such as the three that we indicate below.

1. Flexibility

It is not you who must adapt to the ERP, but the ERP that must adapt to you. Therefore, one of its characteristics is flexibility for the most diverse types of companies.

This is why it is so important to speak with a consultant first to find out if ERP can be tailored to the way your business works. So be transparent and explain how your workflow works towards the goal that all members of the company have in common.

If there is any limitation in the ERP in relation to the tools and methodologies that you already use and you cannot or want to give up, we recommend that you involve the IT department of the organization to discover what the possibilities are.

2. Connectivity

Has it ever happened to you that one of your clients talks to an agent of your company about an open invoice and it is necessary to involve the finance department to locate it? Or when the CS is informed about something that was said at the sale and you have to locate the salesperson to clarify the point with the customer?

These situations hinder the routine of the collaborators and, worst of all, they leave the client dissatisfied due to the lack of communication between departments. To avoid this, all areas of the company must be connected through a single channel, which is why ERP is so necessary.

3. Organization

The organization is essential in an agency. The seller must have all the information related to the clients, the head of finance must have access to all the payment history of the clients, he must be aware of all the activities that are carried out in the company.

For this to happen, everything needs to be organized in one place, that’s exactly what an ERP does. If a customer suddenly calls your company and asks you a question about a matter that was discussed, for example, two years ago, the “I don’t remember” has no space since the ERP exists.

 How to choose the best system for your company?

ERP System

At this point, you must be asking yourself that question, right? Here are three tips to keep in mind when choosing the most suitable ERP for your agency.

Define priority processes

As awesome as the system is, it must be connected to your business processes. For this reason, even before looking for this type of solution, have them defined to know the most suitable type of ERP System for your organization.

Go for an easy-to-implement system

As we said before, it is the ERP that must adapt to the way your business works. So if your implementation is so complex that you and your team members need to contact support multiple times, this may not be the best solution. ERP should be easy to use for everyone in the company.

Evaluate cost-benefit

The concept of expensive and cheap depends on the benefits that a product or service can bring you. If hiring a system is above your budget, but it gives you the results that you have been trying so hard to achieve, the cost-benefit is worth it.

Following the guidelines that we have brought in this article, you can choose the most appropriate ERP system for your business. And if you are wondering how to use ERP to improve your sales process and achieve the billing levels that you have always wanted for your business, this is precisely what we want to offer you!

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