Аn enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is a digital solution that combines all your key business processes in one centralized location so you can manage and monitor them easily.
But there is more to it than this. ERP functionality is complex, bringing together a wealth of different aspects into one unified whole.
So what are these different aspects within your ERP platform, and how does each one work? This guide looks at the features and modules available as part of a complete ERP suite. These modules represent a range of tools to maximize your ERP’s capabilities, so you can get more from your solution. Read on as we explore this in more detail.
Finance and Accounting Module
The ERP software finance module automates and streamlines a range of important functions for your business. From profit tracking to accounts payable and accounts receivable, your organization needs to stay on top of your financials so that you can monitor business performance while ensuring regulatory compliance.
Human error can be a real problem in this department, and even a small mistake can cause significant problems. This is why AI-based finance and accounting modules provide a real benefit, covering everything from financial reporting and fixed asset management to treasury management and future planning.
The finance and accounting module also helps you handle your taxes straightforwardly and reliably so that no nasty surprises arise when filing your return and paying what is due.
Tax management and financial management is a huge part of running a business, and it can also be a major drain on resources. This makes the finance and accounting module a must-have for enterprise resource planning systems.
Inventory Management Module
As your business grows, your inventory also needs to expand to cover more products, lines, and components. This means inventory management becomes increasingly complex, with a significant potential for error. With the inventory management module, your ERP platform rises to the challenge.
Integrating with systems and solutions on the warehouse floor and elsewhere across the supply chain, your ERP’s functionality provides accurate reporting and analysis of inventory levels and business needs. You can create purchase orders and complete other actions directly from the ERP system itself, enhancing your operational efficiency and ensuring you can always meet your customers’ needs.
Depending on manual data input or isolated solutions can be risky here and can lead to errors. This makes the inventory and warehouse management module – fully integrated within your system architecture – so valuable.
Supply Chain Management Module
We’ve briefly touched upon supply chain operations and management, but this requires more exploration. Supply chain processes and operations need their own ERP module, handling and analyzing data from across the chain to provide in-depth understanding and actionable insights.
The modern supply chain includes a huge range of different data points. Internet of Things (IoT) technology means that business intelligence systems draw data directly from the supply chain infrastructure, often in real time. Without a reliable module built into your ERP platform, managing and making sense of this data becomes very difficult.
Thanks to powerful analytics and an intuitive human interface and dashboard, the ERP solution puts data insight at your fingertips. Your teams use the dashboard to learn more about supply chain status and performance, supported by automated and AI-based data analysis functionality.
Production Planning Module
If you operate in the manufacturing space, you need to be able to plan and optimize your production line properly. This requires a robust project management solution integrated with your ERP system. With a high-quality project management module, you can create, test, and edit production plans and implement schedules that get the best out of your manufacturing processes and infrastructure.
It’s not simply a case of creating a plan and forgetting about it. With business intelligence tools, you can make sure your current plans and schedules are the best they can be, analyzing and altering inputs on a regular basis. You can also run risk management tasks to improve project reliability and distribution planning to map out what happens after the product is completed.
The data insight also gives you an understanding of machine utilization so you can implement maintenance and repair work that extends the lifespan of your manufacturing solutions.
Production is a complex aspect of your business, generating huge amounts of data. Your core ERP functionalities, supported by a production planning module, will help you make sense of this data.
Sales and Marketing Module
For growing businesses, sales and marketing activities can prove difficult. Entire business departments are devoted to these operations, so you need a solution that can effectively handle large volumes of business data. A sales and marketing module is designed to do exactly this.
This module gives you the lead management capabilities to encourage conversions and boost revenue. At the same time, expense management features help you understand more about how much each lead costs you and what your overheads are.
Together, these elements give you the understanding you need to improve your business’s sales management and marketing processes, increasing profits while reducing costs. You’ll also gain insight into remarketing opportunities and learn more about the churn rate of each of your customer profiles.
The idea is to optimize the effectiveness of your sales and marketing operations, bringing in new customers while keeping hold of existing ones.
Customer Relationship Management Module
Modern ERP systems and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions are vital for modern business operations. CRM software gives businesses the insight they need into customer behaviors and expectations, helping boost client retention levels while enhancing each customer’s full lifecycle value.
However, these solutions do not exist in isolation. Modern ERP products can integrate with other business systems, such as CRM software. These solutions work together from here, drawing from one centralized set of customer information and data to eliminate errors and achieve comprehensive insight.
Teams can use these unified solutions to provide competitive quotes to customers based on resource availability, product lead times, and production costs. They can also complete complex contract management tasks for subscribers, utilizing the full capabilities of the integrated CRM module.
Human Resources Module
Businesses need great leaders, but they also need great teams – they need staff members who are fully engaged and ready to meet developing operational needs. This makes the ERP’s human resource management module very important for your organization.
Carrying out human resources tasks requires a careful and considered approach, treating each employee as the individual they are. However, as teams grow, this becomes increasingly difficult, and HR professionals need assistance from digital technology and solutions. The module uses automation and AI to assist with complex HR functions, eliminating human error and giving HR teams the capability they need to support field personnel.
Employee management tasks become much more straightforward when the module is deployed. Using an ERP system integrated with a powerful HR solution helps to support an engaged and committed workforce.
Payroll tasks include elements of financial planning and human resource management. However, this is a big part of running a business, so it requires its own dedicated module. A complete ERP suite will include payroll functions, making life easier for your teams and supporting your business operations.
You must ensure that your payments and rewards structures are helping you secure and retain the best talent for your business. The payroll module helps you manage this, providing competitive contracts to your most talented staff members. The solution incorporates automated features to ensure that salaries are paid on time and in full and follow all tax requirements and other rules and regulations.
Once the module is implemented within the ERP suite, data can be shared between the payroll, financial and accounting, and HR management modules. The result is complete unification between all these modular ERP solutions.
Project Management Module
It’s not just manufacturing businesses that need to plan and schedule key tasks and operations. All businesses need this capability to optimize their use of time, resources, and capital. This is where the project management module can make a real difference during ERP implementation and deployment.
Whether managing a team of software developers bringing a new product to market or planning an expansion into a new business area, you need the right solutions to keep the project moving in the right direction.
You need to be able to break the project down into manageable increments and develop a suitable timeline that will achieve the right results without delay. You also need to be able to implement agile methodology, optimizing project efficiency while remaining flexible to change.
The project management module is designed to make this happen, adapting to specific business processes while integrating with the central ERP system.
Quality Control Module
Customers and clients have high expectations. They expect your products and services to meet a certain standard every time. If you fail to deliver on this level of quality, you may find it difficult to retain your customers. Fortunately, the quality control module is designed with this in mind.
The ERP’s quality control module uses automated and AI-based features to set benchmarks for product testing. With these benchmarks in place, the solution measures and analyzes products and components, achieving unparalleled consistency in quality.
Effective quality control involves repetition, which means this discipline is vulnerable to human error. An integrated ERP system helps handle these repeatable business tasks.
Business Intelligence Module
Modern businesses are data hubs – they depend on data, and they also produce large amounts of data at the same time. The business intelligence module of your ERP system is crucial here. This module records, stores, and makes sense of the data produced by your business processes.
Take financial data as an example. Business intelligence tools can derive real insight and analyze financial data, showing you how much each conversion costs you on average. With this kind of analysis and reporting, you can learn more about profitability and make real changes based on this.
The module can also work closely with other business solutions, sharing the same datasets as part of a complete ERP suite. The human resource module is another example – business intelligence tools analyze and interpret human resource data, helping you to keep your workforce engaged and happy. All of your business departments can benefit from this kind of intelligence.
Reporting and Analytics Module
The different business units and departments that make up your organization need reliable reporting and analytic capabilities. For larger businesses with complex structures, this can be a real problem. Company owners and management teams need a way to access these reports quickly and easily.
Your ERP project can be a great opportunity to gain more insight from reports. The ERP system is a central hub into which data flows from all areas of your business. When you deploy your reporting and analytics module, you can customize, configure, and then commission a wide variety of reports. Tailor these reports according to different requirements, altering timeframes and other parameters to gain the insight you need. Customized reports go far beyond monthly financial statements, offering comprehensive real-time insight.
Whether analyzing financial information or accessing data from further down the supply chain, your integrated ERP solution can handle this in real time. This means you gain an up-to-the-minute, continually evolving understanding of your business’s performance.
Mobile Access Module
If your teams are to get the best out of your enterprise resource planning solution, they need to be able to access it easily. In the modern business environment, several remote teams may operate in different locations. All of these teams need the same levels of secure access.
A cloud ERP system could provide the answer. With a cloud-based solution, team members can access the system via remote devices, logging in securely and utilizing the ERP’s features no matter where they are based. Whether team members are collaborating from different floors of your office building or from different continents, a mobile access module offers reliable connections to the central data resource and the ERP’s tools for all of your authorized personnel. In other words, all logged-in users can utilize the full array of ERP features and functions wherever they are.
A mobile access module should also offer an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. This ensures teams can complete complex administrative and reporting tasks with just a few touchscreen taps. As a mobile or tablet device screen is sized differently from that of a laptop or desktop computer, many ERP solutions are optimized for all of your different devices.
Effective ERP implementation is all about integration. The whole point of the enterprise resource planning solution is to bring together different aspects of your business so that all your units, departments, and other elements work from the same data resources and pull in the same direction.
The ERP integration module provides the connections that make this happen. With this module, there are no isolated or incompatible pieces of software within your solution architecture – instead, you’ve got a unified system that works together as a cohesive whole.
Changes happen quickly in business, and your datasets must reflect this. With the integration module in place, the central data store is updated in real time, meaning all the other ERP tools are working with the most recent and relevant information.
Security and Access Control Module
Up to now, we’ve looked at how core ERP features help with various business functions, but there is something else we need to consider: security. With so much data accessible via the ERP and with so much at stake, security is critical. Failing to protect this data puts you and your business at risk and complicates regulatory compliance.
The security and access control module provides comprehensive monitoring for the entire platform. Automated and artificially intelligent tools flag suspicious behaviors, while multi-factor authentication ensures that only authorized individuals can access the system. These robust controls make adhering to the regulatory compliance requirements that govern your business systems easier.
When users leave your organization, you can revoke their access privileges via the security and access control module. The tools are designed to put your business in the driving seat, eliminating the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive data.
Choosing the Right ERP Systems and Connections
Choosing the right ERP systems and connections really depends upon your company, expectations, and budget. Higher-end systems offer a full suite of modules and features, as well as a large number of user accounts and seats for your team, but these may be better suited to enterprise-level organizations rather than smaller businesses.You might also want to pick and choose the modules that are best suited to your business, creating what is essentially a custom ERP solution. Just make sure you have all of the modules you need to support optimal functionality for your business – investing in an ERP module could result in cost savings further down the line, when your processes become more efficient and effective.
ERP Features: FAQs
What are ERP features?
ERP features are the tools and capabilities built into your enterprise resource planning system to support your business process.
What are ERP modules?
ERP modules are applications that extend the capability of your enterprise resource planning solution, integrating with the system via secure connections.
What are the most popular ERP modules?
Financial and accounting modules with fixed assets management, tracking or raw materials, and CRM tools are among the most popular. However, each business has specific needs that will dictate which features and modules you need.