Five ERP Considerations for MSPs Serving SMB Customers
Yes, SMB customers are increasingly embracing ERP (enterprise resource planning) software, both on-premise and in the cloud. However, MSPs that wish to get in on the SMB ERP action may still have a few things to learn about the specific ERP needs of this market. Indeed, ChainLink Research outlines five key strategic considerations SMBs should examine before selecting an ERP solution, and they are just as applicable to selecting a managed services provider to help implement and maintain ERP technology.
Below I will quickly review each consideration and what MSPs can do to help go “five for five” in meeting them.
1. Consider the Core: ChainLink advises SMBs to consider the core of their business (such as manufacturing, distribution, etc.), and so should MSPs. Businesses with different core functions will use ERP solutions in much different ways, and a “one size fits all” approach will not suffice. ChainLink also says many SMBs handle their core processes with a best-of-breed solution and employ ERP systems to manage finance, so MSPs should brush up on their financial systems and services management, as well.
2. Obtain Industry Insight: Similar to the core functionality consideration above, SMBs and the MSPs serving them also need to consider the specific needs of their industry. Some industries inherently involve an extended demand chain of partners who all need to connect with enterprise systems, others do not. MSPs need to look at the broader industry factors of an SMB client beyond their core functionality.
3. Plumb Functional Depth: Certain key functions may need more depth, depending on the individual client. For example, an international company will need multi-currency capabilities in their transactional systems. MSPs should be proactive and include targeted functional depth in their initial sales pitch, rather than waiting for a client to tell them what areas need deeper capabilities.
4. To Cloud or Not to Cloud? That is the question for today’s businesses of any size. MSPs should again be proactive and do advance research so they can best advise potential clients of whether ERP systems should be delivered via cloud from the very beginning. Cloud-based or not, solutions should be delivered in a manner that is easily scalable and flexible according to evolving client needs.
5. Pricing: Pricing is listed fifth but that in no way reflects its importance to an SMB decision on choosing an MSP. Especially considering the state of the economy and the generally tight budgets of smaller firms, MSPs need to make sure their services are affordable for their client base. ChainLink advises many on-demand ERPs do not charge for maintenance during the contract period, meaning MSPs must offer superior maintenance and perhaps some other creative perks to offset this potential client savings.
For cloud-related ERP services, check out our sister site — Talkin’ Cloud — for ongoing coverage written for VARs, MSPs and cloud services providers.