Scalability. It’s a term that nearly every business chases, often times without knowing exactly how to achieve it. For businesses large and small, many strive for growth and expansion – strategies that require flexibility in all aspects of the business, including software programs such as ERP solution. While scalability in your company’s software won’t necessarily propel it to an international industry leader, it will save you money and allow for flexibility to expand globally.
Instead of investing thousands of dollars to overcome your current system’s shortcomings as your business expands, scalable ERP software will not require these expenditures. Similarly, it will not hold your business back from any potential growth opportunities.
When looking to invest in an ERP system, there are 3 dimensions that can help you determine whether or not the system will be scalable and flexible for the future growth of your company.
Utilization refers to how the system will respond when the amount of data it stores is increased. Ensuring reliable performance with an increased utilization rate is often solely connected to the hardware but, the truth is, that software plays a role as well.
In some ERP systems, there are “tipping points” where the volume of data and information begins to impact performance. An open database structure that allows you to add server space to account for this increased volume is a must-have for any scalable ERP solution. In companies where there are spikes in the utilization, for example seasonal increases in demand, there are tools available, such as traffic prioritization. This allows the “essential” data to continue to flow, while pushing other data off to the side.
The best solution, of course, is to ensure full scalability in your ERP and completely avoid this issue.
When looking at operating systems, a 2013 survey found that 90% of desktops run some sort of Windows OS. Consequently, many ERP systems are designed with this information in mind. There may be, however, times when your company may have to support an alternative operating system. To increase scalability, companies often look to browser-based software so that the device’s operating system essentially becomes a non-factor.
Similarly, scalability can be increased by augmenting the functionality of the backend database. While it is not directly run with the ERP system, increasing its data storage capacity can help increase the effectiveness and integration with ERP and throughout the entire business.
- User Count
As your business grows, it is logical to assume that the number of employees and users of the ERP system will also need to increase. Many systems allow you to add users, but it’s important to be aware of how the cost and relative ease of doing so differs between solutions. Are additional licenses sold on an individual basis or in bundled groups (1 vs. a package of 20?). Can new users access all functions of the system and under the same security measures? Does new client software need to be installed to every additional workstation? These questions, among others, are extremely helpful in gauging the process of adding additional users to the system.
When looking to purchase an ERP system, these three dimensions are important to keep in mind. While they may not seem relevant right now, they will come into question as your company begins to grow and looks for scalability in its software programs.
One client, IS5 Communication, opted for a full-fledged ERP system for their start-up from the get-go and reaped the benefits. Read how they did it to see how you can follow their lead.