An ERP system is a powerful tool. By collecting and organizing all of a company’s data into a single, easily accessible hub, it unifies teams, fuels informed business decisions, and automates key processes. It’s an increasingly popular way for companies to streamline their operations, with total sales in the ERP market likely to exceed $49.5 billion by 2024.
Modules are the interconnected components of an ERP system, with each one serving a different core business area. The right combination of modules can bring your mission to life — but in a crowded market of solutions, how can you tell which ones are right for you?
Use our guide to learn more about different ERP modules, so you can make the smartest choice for your business.
What Are ERP modules?
Think of an ERP system like a marathon runner: reliable, agile, and able to perform challenging tasks with ease. Every ERP system is made up of modules — the parts of our marathoner’s body that work together to help them run.
Each module is built to manage, automate, and optimize processes in a certain business area. For example, a customer relationship management (CRM) module can track your customers’ billing information and order history. A finance module can help the finance department close the books and securely store financial records.
Most ERP systems come as a base package with a central set of modules, and a wide variety of other modules are sold as add-ons. Core modules serve most companies’ essential needs, while other modules are particularly useful for manufacturing businesses. Rich ERP systems can be equipped with dozens of different modules, each one doing a specific job.
We’ll break down a number of modules commonly deployed by manufacturers, so you can make the best choices for your team.
7 Popular ERP Modules
Each ERP module pulls information from a different team and feeds it into the central hub. That real-time collection and analysis of data optimizes that team’s workflows and enriches their contributions to the company. And because every module is integrated with the central database, they can work together to improve processes across teams and projects. We’ll list some of the most useful modules for manufacturers here.
1. Finance Modules
The most common type of module is finance and accounting. Every business has financial responsibilities, from balancing its income and expenses accounts to producing balance sheets and cash flow statements — so this module is key to most ERP systems. Most out-of-the-box solutions include a finance and accounting module, but these modules can also be purchased as standalone components. Because a finance module tracks and visualizes money movement throughout the company, every department can make use of it. A sales team can easily track order volume to calculate revenue; a legal team can quickly assess and analyze compliance requirements.
2. CRM Modules
The customer relationship management (CRM) module is nearly as common. It supports healthy relationships with customers throughout their lifecycle, from making their first purchase to tracking their satisfaction over time. A customer’s personal information and all of their order history is securely stored in the system’s central database, so customer support teams can access it to offer more personalized assistance and a warmer support experience.
In addition to customers, the CRM module also oversees and manages relationships with leads and prospects, making it easier to spot cross-selling and upselling opportunities. Dashboards make it easy to see trends and patterns, so business leaders can make projections and decisions based on reliable, real-time data.
3. Business Intelligence and Analytics Modules
Many manufacturing companies also opt to implement a business intelligence (BI) module. In short, a BI module is a tool to help an organization make better data-driven decisions. The module collects and stores all of a company’s data, like sales numbers or website traffic. Many businesses pair this module with a business analytics (BA) module, which spins all that data into easy-to-read graphs and charts. Data collection is the heart of an ERP system, and visualization is the key to transforming a mountain of data into meaningful action.
4. HR Modules
Does your company’s recruiting, hiring, and workforce management rely on a handful of disconnected systems? You’re not alone — and you might make good use of a human resources management (HRM) module. Sometimes called human capital management modules or simply HR modules, these components manage employees over the course of their relationship with your company. Job descriptions, offer letters, training materials, and performance reviews can all live comfortably in an HRM module. So can payroll, tax information, and time-off requests. In addition to smoothing day-to-day activities, these modules can boost productivity and growth. For example, the system can flag an unusual spike in overtime, so teams can begin to create better processes and reduce the need for extra work hours.
5. Procurement Modules
Procurement modules — sometimes called purchasing modules — handle the materials and goods manufacturers need to run their business. This kind of module automates the flow of quotes between you and potential customers, and when a quote is accepted, it helps the purchasing department prepare and send a purchase order. Finally, it tracks the order and updates inventory data when it’s safely delivered.
6. Order Management Modules
Order management modules create a safe, reliable pathway for orders from receipt to delivery. It feeds an order from a customer to a warehouse, distribution center, or store — and can save you money by evaluating the best option for procurement based on inventory and proximity to the customer.
7. Inventory Management Modules
Order management modules pair well with inventory management modules, which provide a complete picture of inventory and pull out trends to predict future sales. If your business needs supply chain support, look for tracking at the stock level, receipt processing, and multi-location functionality — all signs of a powerful ERP system.
How can I customize my ERP system for my business?
Start with a robust core system, a vendor with a trustworthy track record, and the modules you know you’ll need. If you start your journey with too many modules, you might find yourself exceeding your budget and delaying implementation. You can always add more as your company grows, integrating new accessories to support new functions. If your ERP system is cloud-based, it’s delivered over the internet and maintained by the vendor, so it’s easy to update as needed.
If you’re considering adopting an ERP solution or adding new modules, start by forming a cross-functional team to assess your company’s needs. You’ll want to research and evaluate vendors, create a business case, ask for demonstrations, and rank potential solutions by features, price, and scalability. After you sign a contract, you’ll begin implementation, a complex but rewarding process.
Learn more about customizing ERP modules with Godlan
Godlan Consulting can help evaluate your options, then help you get set up. With decades of experience in the ERP industry, we offer a personalized and fully customizable RFP solution. Contact us to learn more.