Perhaps you are one of those wondering how enterprise resource planning (ERP) software differs from standalone business applications. Well you are not alone. Most businesses are confronted with the choice of either implementing whole ERP software or simply deploying a traditional standalone application. However, when you have sufficient information, making such decisions should not pose any challenges. So how does ERP software differ from standalone business applications?
For starters, ERP software is basically a business management system with various integrated comprehensive systems that can be used to manage and integrate all business functions within the organisation. On the other hand, standalone business applications refers to applications designed for specific customer needs but have limited functionality and are isolated from other applications.
Ease of Integration
Generally, ERP software facilitates enterprise-wide integrated information system covering every organisational functional area such as accounts, human resources, sales and distribution, marketing, manufacturing among others. A standalone business application is limited to a specific functional area, say if it is an accounting function, the application does not seamlessly integrate with other functional areas. The main differences between ERP software and standalone business applications are on functionality and characteristics. Unlike the standalone business applications, Enterprise resource planning software not only addresses the current needs of the organisation but also offers continuous opportunity of refining and improving the business processes.
In today's business environment the need for organisations to remain competitive cannot be overemphasised. Therefore, most organisations deploy ERP software to enhance coordination among various business entities within the same firm as well as business partners. Due to their inflexibility, standalone business applications are not able to go beyond the specific entities in which they are used. In addition, ERP software can be centrally managed and necessary controls imposed to ensure proper usage within the entire organisation without interference.
In as much as a business enterprise would prefer to deploy standalone business applications, they tend to be very costly, especially when you have several entities that need separate applications to facilitate their operations. ERP software deployment is cost-effective since the software is modular and an organisation can choose the specific modules that are appropriate to the organisation and in case of future additions, the cost of additional modules cannot be commensurate to setting up a standalone business application when needs arise.
A successful implementation of ERP system requires the proper planning from management due to the human and financial resources required. On the other hand, implementation of a standalone application might only require the attention of the specific department. The critical success factors of ERP software deployment include support from the top management, project management, careful selection of appropriate ERP software packages, user training, as well as business process re-engineering.
Ease of Communication
ERP software facilitates the integration of all organisational entities thus making it easy for all the entities to share information and communicate with each other. For instance a report generated by the procurement department can easily be shared with the finance office and any other relevant department. Most ERP systems come with enhanced communication facilities to enable ease of communication. On the other hand, a standalone business application does not support communication with other organisational entities and in case a report is generated, it cannot be shared unless it is printed or emailed.
Therefore, if you are wondering whether to deploy an ERP software or a standalone business application, you need to make serious considerations focusing on the entire organisation. You need to consider various factors such as whether the software supports growth, is it flexible to accommodate the entire business, cost-effectiveness. Do the software/ application support communication within the organisation and with your business partners? In addition, when you consider these factors among others you will be able to clearly choose the most appropriate software or application for your business. Otherwise, there are clear distinctions between ERP system and standalone business applications.