Productivity gain is the key word for economic development. In a nut shell, if the population of a country is constant (or very small growth), the only way to achieve higher GDP, is to increase productivity (or output per capita).
The digital revolution
The digital revolution has enabled a tremendous productivity gain, from the introduction of the computer, the ubiquity of office software, the internet, then the web 2.0, the e-commerce, the collaboration tools, mobile revolution, and now AI and Internet of things (supercharged by the upcoming 5G).
Big companies (MNCs) are the first to go along that path, reaping sustainable competitive advantages (or fail and disappear). There are many examples such as the rationalisation of the supply chain or the activity based costing that allows analysis of business profitability, or the data mining of consumer behaviour and expectation - enabled by powerful software such as SAP.
Let's look now in the small and medium business space.
The SMEs space
SMEs are agile, and highly adaptable - they take advantage of opportunities. To rephrase this: unlike MNCs, they do not create or mandate the conditions in which they operate, they adapt to it; and this has an important impact on the software they use.
Let's take the example of a trading company. Not a license importer or brand principal, a company which purpose is to source at the best price for various big clients (e.g. in the electronics / semi-conductor industry). The characteristics are:
Their clients are MNCs, and each has its own requirements on products, but also on how to process orders: The requirements that make the MNC efficient is passed down to their suppliers which then have to manage multiple requirements
Multiple names for the same parts, depending on the supplier or the buyer
Multiple channels with the same clients, and multiple ways to invoice (e.g. consolidation per project, per department, per site)
Tens of thousands of parts that can be traded,
Variable pricing according to minimum ordered quantity or spot price
Industry requirements for tracking: manufacturing date code, country of origin, standard packaging unit, sales conditions, etc..
Company specific requirements: the way the company has organised itself to be successful in providing services given all the external constraints
Because SMEs are operating in a specific industry, a market niche, a geography and available talent resources, they are very specialised, and their requirements for software is unique to them. Asking them to use standard off-the-shelf software would not cover their needs. And indeed, what they often do is use a standard software example for accounting, and then use a spreadsheet for all of their custom processes.
So this is the core tenet of this blog: for SMEs that have already started their digital journey, are looking for customisable solutions, not standard package.
What is our take?
The next software should allow customisation. But ideally these customisations should be integrated, blended with other standard processes. For example, if you need a very customised order taking system, but are using a very standard invoicing system, there will be a lot of manual work to match both.
Odoo can be a solution. It has the core modules that you can find in other ERP solutions, and an open core: new fields can be added anywhere; and can be added to an existing or new workflow; new functions can be added that can be blended with the core functions.
You can check in the case studies, examples of targeted customisation that can improve dramatically the usability and productivity of an ERP system.
If you're interested to know more about Odoo, don't hesitate to contact us