My family and I live in a relatively new community where a good portion of the houses are still under construction. In fact, there is a new home being built right beside us as I write this article. And my office window has a pretty decent view of the contractors as they work, which has been fun to watch with the exception of the constant sound of hammering during conference calls! But as I've watched them work, it really got me to thinking about what the term "having the right tools for the job" really means and how it's very applicable to business systems.
The framers were working the other day and were using a nail gun. They were able to drive 4 nails in about 2 seconds. I'm certain they they are skilled enough that they could use a hammer to drive the nails, and could probably do it way faster than I ever could. But assuming that a skilled person could drive one nail in 2 seconds (which seems pretty generous), that means it would still take 4 times as long to complete the same task!
So, would a hammer and nails accomplish the exact same task as the pneumatic nail gun? Absolutely. But it would take significantly longer and have the same end result.
This is very applicable when looking at Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to run your business. Over the years I've had the opportunity to work with many different systems geared towards the small to mid sized client. And frankly, they all basically do the same things. They handle accounting, they track inventory, they allow you to purchase and allow you to sell and ship. There's obviously nuances to each system but generally speaking they all allow you to run your business.
This is where having the right solution/tool for your job becomes so important. When evaluating ERP systems it's important to look past the general functionality and really get into the set of tools that are available to you in that system and understand how those are applicable to your business. Sure, every system can handle entering a sales order. But if you need to integrate with outside systems that supply orders is there an ability to import those orders? Or perhaps your customers order hundreds of items at a time, is it easy and fast to enter those into the sales order?
Just like with the framers and the hammer and nails, your want to look past the finished transaction and dive into how an ERP system is built and how it accomplishes the tasks that you need to accomplish. This is where it's important to pick a system that is built on modern technology and is always innovating to provide better and faster ways of accomplishing your goals.