Resourceful IT

ERP software is back in vogue, with the sector undergoing a revolution as vendors seek to win business from the largely untapped small to medium business market.

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Resourceful IT
By  Piers Ford Published  November 21, 2010

One organisation, Dubai-based recruitment consultancy Iris Executives, typifies the ongoing popularity of point solutions – and the battle that ERP players still face to convince some market sectors that they are not just touting big ticket solutions for big name companies.

Iris CEO Hamza Zaouali recently took the strategic decision to buy Bullhorn’s application tracking and CRM recruitment software, using the SaaS delivery model.

“It is an adaptable system that I can customise to our business – the only one that we could tailor to recognise the regional issue of filling UAE jobs with local employees. It’s something the average global system doesn’t have to cater for. I didn’t even consider an ERP system. It’s way too heavy for SMBs. Recruitment companies don’t need a lot of modules. I’ve been a software consultant and I wouldn’t even think of starting a small SAP or Oracle project in this market. They are too complex and deep, and not as flexible.”

“The majority of organisations are using ERP for transaction processing and automation of business flows,” says Microsoft’s Elhamy. “Recently, organisations started using KPIs, dashboards and collaboration tools to extend the usage of basic ERP. We have one  organisation who has started using Dynamics ERP integrated with SharePoint and Office Communication to communicate with different offices, vendors and suppliers. Organisations today are looking at ERP as an important way to increase integration, efficiency and control, and to reduce costs.”

Elhamy says the economic squeeze has had a mixed impact on ERP spending in the last 12 months. Some customers have delayed investment, while others have seen it as a chance for cost savings and efficiencies.

“Customers who assessed ERP have focused on reducing costs, increasing collaboration between departments, implementing savings policies in their procurement departments, increasing inventory turnovers, implementing accurate costing schemes, and coping with limited resources by maximising the roll-out of automation,” he says. “These are examples of how customers have used ERP to cope with the economic situation.”

Paul Hammond, general manager Middle East at another ERP vendor Infor, says the return of investment to large, government-funded infrastructure projects, is revitalising the market, and pushing all-important cash down into private enterprises.
“We’re witnessing this in project-based manufacturing companies that we feel have turned the corner, and this is being reflected by increasing customer demand for our IT solutions,” says Hammond.

He offers Metito Overseas in Sharjah, a specialist in the design and supply of water, wastewater treatment and desalination systems, as an example of a customer who uses ERP to manage multiple operations.

“It uses our Infor ELN to get benefits in three crucial ways,” he says. “Firstly, to provide visibility across its supply chain and turnkey utility projects from across its sites in UAE, Egypt and Qatar. It really helps it to plan and coordinate construction projects to meet its customer delivery projects.

“The second area is in improving cashflow. For this, it uses ERP LN’s multi-company financial support and cost control capabilities. The third area is providing better visibility into cost planning to improve Metito’s ability to provide accurate estimates during the budding process.

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