Enterprise software, enterprise applications, enterprise application software and enterprise software solutions are the most commonly used terms for software applications that are built to assist businesses in solving their problems. In the IT world, when the word “enterprise” is used with the word “application”, it means a software solution that is of a large scale, very complex and built to enhance efficiency and productivity for organizations.
Unlike the small business software solutions and the consumer applications, which are built for a specific function, (such as a video and photo editing program or an accounting software) an enterprise software application provides support to the entire organization, in an effort to lower costs and improve both productivity and efficiency in the enterprise.
What is an Enterprise Software Application?
Enterprise software applications are the computer programs used by businesses to improve operational efficiency, introduce new revenue streams, enhance security, and achieve operational transparency. When we refer to enterprise, we include mid-large scale businesses that have unique software needs that differentiate from small businesses. After all, a local boutique shop won’t require software solutions with features such as global currency conversions.
The present-day market is flooded with enterprise-level Software as a Service solutions that can be configured according to the specific business needs. However, if the requirements are unique and cannot be fulfilled with modifications in a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, there arises a need for enterprise software development services.
It should be noted that different software solution vendors specialize in developing software solutions for companies of different sizes and industries. So, it is essential to be discrete about the size and scope of the business in accordance with your organization aesthetics while looking for an enterprise software developer. This will help reduce the stint spent sorting through the vendors that aren’t suitable for your enterprise requirements.
What distinguishes an Enterprise Software from others?
It is obvious that a software program cannot be used in every business use case. Some software solutions are aimed towards small organizations or individuals and some are for larger organizations. In enterprise-level software development, solution providers try to emphasize features and functionalities such as data safety and security, different currencies support, regulatory standards compliance and support for multiple locations.
For example, a small-scale business or an individual won’t need an ERP software solution. There can be a requirement of a basic inventory management software, but the demand for an individual-based bespoke system may not be necessary for the generic needs of a small business, and it may not deliver the ROI to make the ERP project worthwhile.However among enterprises, the use and demand for ERP software solutions is very high because it centralizes the workflows and data, which becomes very useful for mid-large scale enterprises due to the size of their workforce and operations.
What are the different types of commonly used Enterprise Software?
A variety of software vendors offer a range of enterprise applications falling in many categories. The following are some of the common types of enterprise software applications that are used to streamline business processes.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is a tool used to store & share data and to automate business workflows related to accounting, inventory, and supply chain processes. ERP software applications have always been beneficial for mid-large scale enterprises, but as the technologies are becoming more and more accessible with each passing year, many small-medium businesses have also started to see if these solutions can help them as well.
Many functions offered by ERP solutions are also available as standalone software. The reason enterprises prefer buying ERP solutions is that it provides a seamless integration among different workflows to enhance their operational visibility. Modern ERP software solutions incorporate the following features:
- Supply chain management
- Financial management
- E-commerce management
- Warehouse and inventory management
- Transportation and distribution management
- Customer relationship management
Customer Relationship Management software solutions are very useful for organizations to cultivate leads, increase customer retention, and provide support to clients. Customers, including the potential new ones, are crucial for every business, but managing a huge amount of customer data is a daunting task. CRM software helps businesses build strong relationships with customers and personalize the sales promotional activities to boost revenues. The following are some of the common features that a CRM solution incorporates:
- Client database management
- Prospects management
- Marketing and campaign management
- Customer behaviour tracking
- Sales automation
- Contact management
Accounting software solutions incorporate financial management tools that streamline the financial reporting and accounts management processes. Many times big organizations encounter hurdles whilst consolidating their financial statements from across different projects, departments, and subsidiaries.
Accounting software vendors that have extensive knowledge about the financial management processes and have experience working with large scale corporations will provide the best consulting services to centralize and automate financial operations. Some of the common features of accounting software include the management of:
- Account payable and receivables
- General ledger
- Accounting on the basis of projects and departments
- Fixed assets
Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software helps organizations to track and manage all of their physical assets. The primary goal of EAM software is to reduce the operating costs by maximizing the asset lifespan. This can be achieved by keeping track of asset maintenance requirements and compliance standards. Some of the common features that an EAM software incorporates include:
- Asset lifecycle management
- Inventory management
- Predictive vehicle maintenance
- Vehicle checkup planning
- Asset maintenance management
- Work orders management
- Materials management
Business Intelligence (BI) tools help organizations get actionable insights out of the gathered data. BI systems use data streams from business areas such as marketing, sales, and manufacturing. These systems identify the areas for improvement by processing and visualizing the data sets on customized dashboards. Data visualization and report generation are the key highlights of BI tools. Here are some of the functions BI tools can transform within your business:
- Data analytics
- Data visualization
- Decision making
- Big data analytics
- OLAP (Online analytical processing)
Supply Chain Management (SCM) solutions help businesses facilitate and keep a watch on the process from the production lines to doorstep delivery. These tools are capable of managing the logistics operations such as sales orders, raw material handling, manufacturing/assembling, and machine management. Often supply chain management software has the following capabilities:
- Supply chain monitoring, planning, and analytics
- Transportation and logistics management
- Warehouse and inventory management
- Sourcing and procurement of raw materials and goods
- Order processing
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a very useful tool to cover the entire product design lifecycle. It provides employees with a centralized command system to monitor the entire lifecycle of a product. PLM software solutions are capable of making sure that the production is in accordance with the plan, and it can detect anomalies in almost real-time. The following are the features that a typical modern PLM software includes:
- Bills of Materials (BOM) management
- Other documents management
- Computer-aided Design (CAD) file management
- Project management
- Component management
- Portfolio management
- Regulatory compliance management
Is it worth investing in Enterprise Software Solutions?
It is true that there are flaws in the processes of small to large-sized organizations but the important question is what can modern enterprises do to solve these problems? And if the answer is to employ a ERP, what benefits can an organization expect out of investing into enterprise software solutions?
The benefits of having and using enterprise-level software solutions are diverse. You might already be aware that the degree of benefits depends on the solution and its provider. An ideal ROI focused enterprise software solution offers the following common benefits:
1. Increase in Production
The increase in production is one of the most crucial benefits an enterprise can expect out of software solutions. Many software applications also offer automation in their functionality, be it continuous monitoring with real-time data visualization or robotic process automation (RPA). Without the need of much human intervention, employee time and costs can be utilized in other areas of business operations, where the focus couldn’t be previously due to a lack of available resources.
2. Actionable Insights Development
Most of the enterprise software include data analytics and visualization that helps businesses get actionable insights out of the data. The software applications consist of graphs, charts, or documents that visualize the status of KPIs. Some examples of actionable insights are inventory level and usage prediction, accounts receivables, customer retention, and on-time delivery rates. Over time, data analytics capabilities can identify bottlenecks within your organizational workflows, enabling you to achieve a new level of efficiency and success.
3. Revenue Increase
Generating more sales is what every business dreams of. Many enterprise-level software solutions have helped organizations in various industries take the leap to revenue boost. For example, BI software applications provide you operational bottlenecks visualization, which assist companies identify the areas of improvement to increase the revenue-cost gap.
Software solutions like product lifecycle management help businesses ensure all the departments concerned with product lifecycle are on the same page to product design. This helps businesses make sure that the products are designed as per their desire and are compliant to regulatory requirements. This also helps to reduce the scrap production at the production lines.
4. Elimination of human error
Manual data input of complex data often results in a pool of flaws and also provides the opportunity for data tempering. If any of these occur, it will result in a lack of effective data visibility, which will harm both the productivity and decision making ability of the business..
At the time of any complex issue, it becomes near to impossible to eliminate it quickly if you are relying on solely manual data. Having enterprise software systems will help organizations eradicate manual errors and achieve quicker decision making. Because of the automation of the acquisition and transfer of data, there will also be a low risk of data tempering. The real-time data acquisition and analysis will ensure quick identification of malfunctions, improving the insight speed and accuracy of data. Furthermore you would see a reduction in the amount of time employees would spend whilst undertaking quality checks.
5. Customer Retention
Maintaining customers is one of the foremost priorities for a successful business. Undoubtedly, acquiring new customers is also crucial but retention is more beneficial as it builds a relationship between the customer and the company that leads to brand advocacy.
Another aspect is the cost of customer retention in comparison to the cost of obtaining new customers. A study done by Harvard Business Study had found that for large-scale enterprises, a 5% increase in customer retention possibly can increase the revenue by 25-95%, whereas new customer acquisition is 5-25 times costlier than retaining customers that have made purchases in the past. CRM solutions are very effective at helping companies retain customers and find new prospects. Again, one enterprise software solution can be equipped with the features and functionalities of many such software. For example, an ERP solution may contain similar functionalities as a CRM.
It is certainly a smart move to opt for enterprise-level solutions. But knowing when is the right time to opt for these solutions can be a daunting task for some organizations. To ensure that your organization is ready to help deliver ROI for these solutions, you would need to assess the size of the current challenges within your business operations, and compare this against the enterprise software solution cost. This will give you an idea about how much priority and importance you should give to implementing an enterprise software solution within your business.
If you have identified that the ROI is worthwhile, and you have enough capital to trigger your digital transformation journey, enterprise software solutions are a great investment to make.