ERP Solutions for Small Business – Which One?
ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning Solutions are the next step up from a basic accounting package.
An ERP system integrates internal and external management information across an entire organization; finance/accounting, manufacturing, sales and service, customer relationship management, etc. ERP systems automate this activity with an integrated software application. The purpose of ERP is to facilitate the flow of information between all business functions inside the boundaries of the organization… (Wikipadia.org)
ERP Solutions are not for everyone. First of all they are much more complicated to set-up and get working, and a a lot harder to use somatimes too. They can also cost a lot of money. Most small business owners may be satisfied with a basic accounting system, e.g. Quickbooks or similar. But what about the business profesional starting his (or her) own small enterprise, but coming form a corproate or large business envirnment: Such person will be used to a fully integrated system to manage all aspects of the business from a central point, using a single software application.
Online Payment Problem for South African SME’s
South African SME’s are hampered by lack of economical online payment facilities for their customers. Small enterprises in SA came across a big stumbling block when trying to trade online in South Africa; Normal credit card methods of online payment are simply too expensive for most small traders, taking around 8.5 percent in transaction fees. Many operate at low margins in order to be competitive.
Low cost online payment methods are not available, e.g. the well-known PayPal service cannot be integrated successfully with e-commerce application using local SA Rand as the base currency. Direct transfer by online banking is not a realistic payment method for cash strapped customers, most will need to pay using a credit card for all except small item purchases.
Step by step WordPress Website
A new website launched today – Graphicline on WordPress with a mission to provide small and medium business entrepreneurs with information about the modern technology available for their business.
SME Technology is a self hosted WordPress CMS site. Logically, the first series of information published will be a step by step instructional e-book about building the website. Interested viewers can follow the series as each step gets completed and published.
The series is aimed at business entrepreneurs with little or no knowledge about the technologies of web systems. If I am able to realise my goal, nearly anyone who is computer literate will be able to build a website for their business (or personal use). WordPress was selected for several reasons;
- It is a powerful CMS that can grow with the website.
- It is easy to use once set-up
- The set-up process and maintenance of the system is also easy.
- It is sufficiently versatile.
- It is free Open Source software.
- Entrepreneurs can try it out for themselves before making a costly decision, courtesy of WordPress.com
I did not want to cover a more basic way of building a site. The point and click systems may be very easy to use, but are limited in scope. I believe the best approach is to start with something that can adapt to changing needs; converting a site from a more basic installation to a full featured CMS is both time consuming and expensive. The other top end applications like Joomla are too complex for a first-timer, and Drupal requires a high level of technical ability.
One of the goals for the site is providing information about top quality affordable business technology. Bearing our goal in mind, emphasis will be on Open Source software as far as possible. A future series will cover a premium grade ERP solution – OpenERP, a system that impressed me and is deployed within Graphicline. This is for the future however.
SME Technology fits in between this blog (written for a general audience) and the information content available on graphicline.co.za (intended for customers, and more technical readers).
First Chapter: Setting up the basics.
Panda 2.5 – Free Help for South African Bloggers
If you are a South African based Small business entrepreneur, and your wordpress.com blog site has taking a severe traffic drop as a result of Google Panda 2.5, I can possibly help.
To help these SME’s I am making the resources of my company Graphicline.co.za available with a PRO BONO offer to help move your blog to a self hosted domain.
The only way you have a realistic chance of recovering is to move your blog site to your own domain. I fully realise many of you do not have the technical skills to do this without help. The process of setting up a WordPress CMS is simple to us web people, but complicated for the uninitiated.
Transferring an existing site poses additional challenges. WordPres.com happines engineers will do this for you for a fee, to one of their partner hosting services. For South Africans, a .co.za domain is cheaper than a dot-com or other international domain, and not necessary for those of us conducting business in South Africa – When a visitor sees .co.za they know straight away this is a South African web site, a dot-com could be anywhere in the world.
Having a self hosted WordPress site gives the advantage of total control over the site structure, with the long-term benefits of making your site (blog) as Google friendly as possible.