Many small and medium-sized businesses have identified a problem or two with their existing job costing process. Or, as some of the more optimistic people we talk to say, they've found opportunities to improve. Not of all of them, however, think that implementing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is the best way to seize this opportunity.
In a previous post, we looked at why an ERP solution like SAP Business One can be an effective platform for growing firms in industries such as engineering services, where the need to cost jobs more accurately and track profitability more effectively is vital. We noted that running a 'small' business does not necessarily mean you are running a business without complexity - and that it could benefit from a business management system capable of handling complex processes.
For those that still need convincing, this post explores in more detail why SAP Business One could be exactly what your business needs to solve its job costing and other data-related problems - even if you (and/or your MD) did not start out with 'ERP' on your shopping list.
Is SAP B1 too big?
The presence of the word 'enterprise' in 'ERP' can still put some SMEs off - and it's true that many ERP software products from the likes of Oracle, Epicor and Microsoft are designed for large organisations.
However, SAP Business One was specifically created to meet the needs of small and mid-sized businesses (and roughly 50,000 of them around the world are already using it). Even start-ups are not excluded - using the SAP Business One starter package, your business can implement the software with five or fewer users and easily upgrade to more complete functionality as the company expands.
Is SAP B1 too expensive?
Anxiety over cost is another reason why finance directors may sometimes overlook an ERP solution in favour of an inferior, standalone job costing solution. The corporate reputation of ERP software means it is often associated with large, complex implementations and the merciless consumption of resources.
However, Business One is the most affordable entry-level ERP solution from SAP. Pricing plans, depending on your project scope, can be as low as approximately £850 per user. Furthermore, the rapid deployment methodology followed by all SAP partners keeps the implementation short - a maximum of four weeks (and as few as three days with the SAP B1 starter package). This means SMEs can be sure the implementation process will not drain company resources and badly disrupt their operations.
Putting a price on job costing
An integrated business management solution like SAP Business One is neither too big nor too expensive for SMEs that want to grow. We've examined some of the details of the SAP B1 product and implementation in an attempt to show that. However, there is another factor we ask businesses in an industry like project engineering and professional services to consider.
If you're seeking a solution that can improve your job costing process, we're talking about an absolutely business-critical function. Your job costing process is what enables you to make forecasts, to maintain cash-flow, to calculate margin and to carry out profitable jobs. Ultimately, it is what will enable your business to grow - so why look for a cheaper, less sophisticated solution that will need to be integrated with other products? Why look for a discrete solution that meets an immediate need, but will need replacing in two years when your business has outgrown it?