8 November 2023

ERP systems for small businesses: needed? And what does it cost?

Is an ERP system even necessary for my small business? And can I afford ERP software as a small business owner? These are questions we often hear. 

We are happy to take these concerns away from you as quickly as possible. Because even for small organizations, an ERP is very valuable and also quite affordable! 

We also give you six points that require extra attention when you look for an ERP system. This will help you choose the ERP system that fits your small organization perfectly.

ERP-systems for small businesses

In this article you will also discover:  

Want to find the ERP system that fits your business?

Fill in our free comparison tool to find out:

Find your perfect ERP-system

Read on and find out what ERP software can offer small businesses.

Is an ERP system necessary for small businesses?

We definitely recommend small businesses to purchase an ERP system. 

Of course, you may decide not to purchase ERP software for your small organization, no hard feelings. Maybe your processes are running fine, your customers are happy, and your orders are flowing in. 

The downside is that you are missing out on many opportunities for automation and thus efficiency. At the bottom line, this will cost you money. Competitors who do make the switch to an ERP system do enjoy these benefits.

Want to see how an ERP system looks like? Check our blog with 10 examples of ERP systems to find out!

ERP systems for small businesses an example

The benefits of ERP systems for small businesses

Here are the main reasons to buy an ERP system for your small business: 

  • You get access to only one central database for all your business processes (no more remembering dozens of passwords and switching between all kinds of systems!)
  • You reduce the administrative work within your small organization (so you get more time for the work that energizes you)
  • You save costs (is it still necessary to outsource payroll to an expensive external partner?)
  • You make fewer mistakes and do not duplicate work 
  • Your small business operates more efficiently with ERP software. 
  • You improve your customer service by processing orders faster and having better access to customer information.
  • Improve decision-making through real-time visibility into your processes 
  • Improved customer satisfaction through better management of your contact information.

In short: Enterprise Resource Management systems help you automate the (rather boring) administrative tasks. This ensures that you have more time for the more important activities. Think of personal contact with your customers and setting your strategy for the next 5 years. 

You will certainly get a lot of energy from these last-mentioned activities! Or do you prefer to spend hours and hours filling in Excel sheets?

Want to know more about the advantages of ERP systems? You can read it in our blog about the pros and cons of ERP software!

Small businesses without ERP system VS businesses with ERP system

Below, we outline the current situation at many small businesses. We contrast this situation with a scenario where an ERP system is in use.

Comparison CriteriaSituation without ERP systemSituation with an implemented ERP system
Automation of processesManual data processing with spreadsheets and paper documents.

Time-consuming and error-prone.
All your data in a single system.

Less time-consuming due to automation.
Number of software packagesSeparate software for different tasks, such as accounting, inventory management, CRM and payroll.

Lack of integration leads to inefficiency and incorrect data. 
One system in which all different tasks are done.

System communicates seamlessly with different components.
Reporting and analysisTime-consuming and limited real-time insight.

Manual reporting and analysis.
Real-time insight.

Automatic generation of analysis.

What can you do with an ERP system?

ERP software includes the following functionalities/ERP modules:

  • Finance / Accounting
  • Warehouse management
  • Inventory management 
  • Personnel management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Supply Chain Management 
  • E-commerce
  • Business Intelligence
  • Procurement
  • Production
  • Order management
  • Project management
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

These features cover all possible functions of ERP. Below, let's zoom in on the features that are extra important for small businesses.

ERP-systems small businesses

What ERP features are extra important for small businesses?

Functionalities around accounting and finance can be missing from few businesses. Even small businesses need to pay bills. In addition, we think it's also nice that gets paid. Do you currently still work in Excel files to organize your finances? This can obviously work just fine. It's just a lot more error-prone and time-consuming than an ERP system!

Every business has customers (hopefully you are one of those businesses). Hence, a CRM system is also an indispensable component for many small organizations. In fact, a CRM can be part of your overarching ERP system. Think you have enough with just a CRM system? Then find out on our page whether a CRM or an ERP system is a better fit for your small business.

Want to know what a CRM system looks like? Check it out on our page containing three examples of CRM systems. See below for a quick look into these systems:

Voorbeeld van een CRM-systeem

Human Resource Management functions are also often very useful for small businesses. Especially when you have more than 10 people working in your company, personnel management starts to become important. This ERP feature helps you streamline your HRM-related processes. In this way, you increase the productivity of your employees, among other things.

The last essential ERP module for small businesses is e-commerce. With e-commerce features, you link your ERP with your webshop. Do you have a webshop? Then look carefully to see if your ERP system integrates seamlessly with your online store.

What to pay extra attention to when choosing an ERP system as a small organization?

As a small organization, pay extra attention to the six ERP-features listed below. 

Use our points of interest and find the system that fits your small business perfectly. 

1. Low Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Keeping costs manageable is crucial for almost every small business. With this in mind, don't just look at the acquisition cost of your ERP system.

Pay attention to licensing costs and maintenance costs as well. Also, don't forget to consider the cost of support and training. 

In short, pay attention to the Total Cost of Ownership when looking for your ideal ERP system. Make sure the total cost is manageable for you.

2. User-friendliness and support options

It is important that your ERP system be easy to use. Your system should be understandable to employees at all levels. From the director to your marketing person, everyone should be able to get along with your new system. 

But how do you tell if an ERP is user-friendly? Pay attention to these features to gauge the usability of ERP systems:

  • An intuitive user interface
  • Not too many features (that you don't need anyway)
  • Seamless integration with your other software systems
  • Clear and simple reporting and analysis

3. Scalable (in case your business grows!)

ERP for small businesses

Your ERP system must be scalable. Your ERP software must be able to grow with your business. 

But why is this important? This is so influential because, as a small business, you want to grow. You want to avoid facing hefty costs and disruptions when upgrading your ERP system.

4. Easy to implement

When considering an ERP implementation, it is critical to realize that this can be a complex process that takes considerable time and resources. If you have a small business, it is wise to think carefully about how you will approach this implementation. It may be a smart move to work with an experienced implementation partner. Especially when your internal IT team has limited capabilities, this is especially essential. 

So choose an implementation partner that has experience within your industry. That way, you avoid incurring additional costs. An experienced partner will have already done dozens of successful implementations at small organizations like yours.

5. Easily integrate with your existing software

Make sure your ERP system can integrate with existing software packages.

Consider how your new ERP software integrates with, for example, your e-commerce platforms, email marketing software, and other business systems. You obviously want to pick a system where seamless integration with other software is possible.

6. Easily switchable between different ERP modules

Within small organizations, employees often fulfill multiple roles. For example, a marketing employee may be updating the website as well as doing customer contact and sending orders. 

This will require you to work in different ERP modules. This is why it is so important that switching between different modules is easy.

What is the cost of ERP systems for small organizations? 

Prices for ERP systems for small businesses vary widely based on company size, required functionalities, and type of implementation (cloud vs. on-premise). 

Nevertheless, we would like to give you a price indication based on three different categories. Especially the "basic" category will be of interest to you as a small organization. 

  • Basic: Several thousand euros per year for simple, cloud-based systems [the number one choice for small businesses].
  • Medium: Costs range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars per year, depending on needs, users, and complexity.
  • Advanced: Tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for larger, complex systems.

There are also implementation and maintenance costs to consider. We advise small businesses to carefully consider their budget, total cost of ownership, and vendors.

Which ERP systems are particularly suitable for organizations with fewer than 50 employees?

Below is a list of ERP vendors that are on our platform. Quite an impressive list! 

With this list, we want to put your mind at ease. Often small business owners worry whether such an ERP system is suitable for only a few users. As you can see below, it certainly is! 

  • ABC (Microsoft) from 1 user
  • ANB 5 (own software) from 1 user
  • Builders (own software) from 1 user
  • Direct-effect (own software) from 1 user
  • ERP.M B.V. (Odoo) from 1 user
  • Exact (own software) from 1 user
  • Huss BV (own software) from 1 user
  • Logic 4 (own software) from 3 users
  • Forza Consulting B.V. (Priority software) from 1 user
  • Klien-IT-Systems BV (own software) from 1 user
  • Torza ERP (own software) from 1 user
  • Acto (own software) from 5 users
  • Clæver Systems (own software) from 1 user
  • Cloudfashion (own software) from 2 users
  • Appcourt (own software) from 5 users
  • Care4IT (own software) from 1 user
  • Clickhere (own software) from 1 user
  • BVB Group (Afas software) from 1 user

Wondering which vendor suits you best? Fill in the questions of our tool and find out within 10 minutes.

Conclusion: our ERP advice to small businesses

ERP systems for small businesses

As you could already read, we definitely advise small businesses to purchase an ERP system. 

We give this advice to small businesses because ERP systems are useful for any business. This is because ERP software helps you make your business more efficient and competitive. Of course, this is what every organization wants, including smaller businesses. 

In short, here is our advice to small businesses: 

  • Choose a simple ERP system (you need less extensive features than large companies, such as wholesalers looking for ERP software)
  • Make sure your ERP is easy to implement
  • Choose an ERP that fits within your budget while including all the features you want. 

Want to find out which ERP systems fit within your budget and include all the features you need?

Fill out our independent comparison tool and find out which systems are a perfect fit for your small organization. 

Find your perfect ERP-system

After filling in the tool you will be shown different systems and their suppliers. You will also see the costs per system. Whether you finally make contact with one of these suppliers is 100% in your hands.

Peter de Bruin
CEO & Sr. Software Specialist
With over 15 years of dedicated experience in the enterprise software industry, I have seen firsthand how crucial it is for an organization to find the right software system for success. In this rapidly changing marketplace, a fair playing field is not always a given. My mission is to create a fair match between companies and vendors, putting the importance of appropriate and effective software first. Our independent selection tool is designed to fulfill this mission, with the goal of creating a future where everyone can effortlessly find the perfect software package, with a smile. Let's strive for that effortless future together.
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