Business Automation Solutions
Mobile support can save a drive to the office
Is there really such a thing as Free ERP
Traditional ERP is a large corporate, BIG ticket price solution that most SMBs will never be able to afford. As more ERP companies move to cloud based offerings the price tag is coming down but with implementation, support and all the modules you need the cost can still be very high.
So what about the free solutions?
Well, as far as I can see none of them do the whole job. It seems to depend of the specialist area of the company writing the solution as to which areas of business automation they implement first. What that means for us poor SMBs looking for the ultimate in value for money is that we have to do some work. Yes I know, sorry but there you go.
If you are trying to run a manufacturing operation then you need a solution that can manage products, assemblies and parts; project manage the work flows and JIT ordering of externally sources components. Then there are orders, shipping, billing and collections plus a host of other things you may need the system to do.
If you run a professional services operation then you need: Time management, expenses management, Project and task management, pricing, billing, reporting and analytics.
That's where the work bit comes in
You have to assess the areas of your business that you want business management and automation for so that you can find a free solution that meets your needs. Be sure to plan ahead, if there are things you don’t need yet but are likely to in the future then add them to the list now; imagine having to break-in a different business management package in six months time because you need a feature the one you started out with doesn’t have.
Most free solution will not change their product on request and very often support is chargeable or via a premium rate phone number so look at the hidden costs that might be lurking in the small print.
For me, being a small provider of professional services, I just found iBE.net. They a start-up and are making their product free for the first year, I didn’t ask why, they might change their minds. They are also offering free implementation, training and support for that year which sounds to me like I really am getting a free product. What I will do in a year when they start charging I don’t know but for now I am paying absolutely nothing. www.ibe.net – you have to fill in a form and someone calls you to give you access to the cloud-based solution and get you started.
Viva la freebies.