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Growing your business in the ‘New Normal’
As SME’s in the UK continue to deal with the ‘new normality’ enforced by Covid 19, many businesses are going a step further than just dealing with it – they are actively reviewing their business model and identifying areas of improvement to support continuity and growth.
Forward planning has always been considered one of the corner stones of a successful business and thus wider strategic reviews continue to consider:
- Job retention
- Business growth
An ERP underpins best practices
It is largely agreed that using an ERP system will support the above by providing a single source of truth to business owners and managers. Having this single source of truth promotes the better use of resources and better decisions across the business. The software industry is moving to the Cloud and moving your MRP/ERP to the Cloud now will ensure minimum interruption should a regional or national lockdown occur.
Implementing any ERP however – is ‘not for nothing’. Whilst subscription costs for best in class ERP’s are now flexible and affordable, it is the initial implementation and training that provides the key to using it effectively. But implementation and training are up front costs that can only be justified by a sound return on investment.
Now, more than ever businesses need to ensure that any capital investment made will return considerable business benefits and increasingly business owners are being more scientific about investment ‘vs’ return.
Once the decision has been made to implement an ERP and the benefits of cost savings and increased productivity and profit identified, the project, then has to be funded.
Some businesses in the UK are familiar with the grant funding process; where to look and how to go through the process. A number of those businesses have benefitted from multiple grants over the years.
But many UK SME’s are not so familiar regarding the availability of grants and the route to access them and in some cases, it may never have occurred to them before.
Let’s look at some of the Pro’s and Con’s of applying for grant funding to support and ERP project
- Grants do not have to be repaid
If your business case meets the criteria of a grant funding stream and you are awarded funds – these do not have to be repaid, merely used to meet the criteria of your application.
- Accessible Info
It often takes some digging but you can research grant funding streams yourself. There are companies that specialize in working with their clients to navigate the process of grant funding applications, but many applicants complete the process internally.
- Waterfall Effect
Once you have gone through the process for the first time, and hopefully been awarded a grant it increases your chances of further awards as your businesses has already been deemed suitable for grant funding, generally speaking.
- Gain Credibility
Being awarded a grant can be great PR if it is used towards a project that promotes growth, increased employment and in some criteria instances – just protects the jobs of your current employees.
It takes time and effort to put in a grant funding application. You have to present a strong business case supported by convincing data.
Difficult to Receive
Even after jumping through the necessary hoops to apply for a grant – acceptance is not guaranteed. This is why it is so important to check the criteria for the grant before you apply and take the necessary time to complete your application. It is imperative that the purpose you want to use your grand funding for, is closely linked to the purpose of the grant. Making a convincing business case is the key to a successful application.
Grant funding is ring fenced to the purpose of the application.
You must keep clear records of your funding spend and ensure that there is proof that the way grant money has been spent is against the purpose agreed. Any suppliers that you partner with need to be aware that their invoices must be worded correctly to ensure they support your project documentation.
The most important point?
Partial grants and match funding In the instances of ERP or other software – it is common that a grant is not for 100% of the cost of services attached to your project. Funding is often on a matched basis or for a fixed percentage of the overall cost. Therefore, before you think about applying you need to prepare to invest your own funds and recognize the value of the project in its own right, regardless of any support you may get.
Thought for the Day
If you are using legacy software (Sage Manufacturing for example) then you will be able to build a business case for applying for grant funding. Without a current and robust MRP or ERP you can not operate a manufacturing operation as successfully as possible which means you are not as profitable as possible which in turns puts current jobs at risk and curbs the opportunity for growth. Job security and business growth are common requirements in many grants available at the moment. Qi cannot get involved in the grant application process itself, but we will be able to provide valuable input for use in your business case based on our experiences with other customers who have moved to a Microsoft ERP from legacy solutions in the past.