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Businesses from complex heavy duty manufacturing to wholesale distribution are realizing the value of extending business data within their ERP software throughout the value chain. Smart companies have streamlined their business processes to the point where changes in demand or supply have not resulted in significant inventory overages or shortages. ERP systems are the centerpiece of those streamlined operations.

Extending business data throughout the value chain however is difficult for small and mid sized companies because ERP software solutions have not figured out a comfortable way to do so. Their solution is web portals. Their problem is licensing.

Four Ways ERP Software Solutions Offer Web Portals

  1. ERP software solutions provide development tools that allow companies to create portals for suppliers, customers and employees.
  2. ERP software solutions restrict development to only customers and/or suppliers or employees.
  3. ERP software solutions have figured out creative ways to charge end users (customers and/or suppliers). This includes enterprise-pricing models.
  4. ERP software solutions have decided to integrate with SharePoint to expose customized pieces of their solution over the web.

Before you decide on using any web portals to extend business data to suppliers and or customers though, your business must first consider the following points.

Three Considerations to Review Prior to Implementing a Web Portal

  1. Business Requirements. Web portals can be used a laundry list of ways. Companies must know who needs what and why. The company’s business needs from external parties will shape the portal environment.
  2. Technical Requirements. The web portal environment is a web development environment. Consequently, IT skills may need to be upgraded and or new resources may need to be incorporated. Additionally, current systems may or may not be able to support a portal environment thus technical infrastructure as well as strategic planning for the organization should be taken into account.
  3. Implementation Strategy. The implementation strategy should not only include employees but also customers and or suppliers. Some customer and/or suppliers may be reluctant to use the technology and thus training and or incentives need to be provided for support.

Web Portals are relatively simple for modern ERP systems and can help companies extend business data to increase efficiency. Businesses, however, must understand their operational and technical requirements prior to considering web portals because their requirements will shape the web portal environment as well as the ERP software that supports it.

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