SME Power Up: Online Guide to Calculating Your ERP ROI

Published: 06.03.24WMS

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are comprehensive software solutions that streamline and integrate business processes across various organizational departments. For small and medium enterprises (SMEs), ERP systems offer transformative benefits such as enhanced operational efficiency, improved data accuracy, streamlined communication, and better decision-making capabilities.

While the benefits of ERP systems for SMEs are substantial, businesses must thoroughly analyze the potential return on investment before making a significant financial commitment. Calculating ERP ROI helps SMEs assess the feasibility and profitability of implementing such systems, enabling informed decision-making and maximizing the value of their investments.

Understanding ERP ROI for SMEs

Return on investment (ROI) is a financial metric used to evaluate the profitability of an investment relative to its cost. For SMEs operating with limited resources, ROI is a critical indicator of the efficiency and effectiveness of their investments. A 2023 Panorama Consulting study found that over four out of five organizations (83%) who analyzed their return on investment (ROI) were satisfied with the outcome of their ERP system implementation. 

Calculating ERP ROI allows SMEs to assess the financial impact of implementing an ERP system and determine whether it aligns with their strategic objectives. Here are the key considerations for calculating ERP ROI:

1. Cost factors

  • Initial software and implementation costs include the upfront expenses associated with purchasing ERP software licenses and implementing the system within the organization.
  • Ongoing maintenance and support costs: SMEs should factor in the recurring costs for software updates, maintenance, and technical support services the ERP vendor provides.
  • Training costs for employees: Proper training is essential for successful ERP implementation. SMEs should consider the costs of training employees to use the ERP system effectively.

2. Benefit factors

  • Increased efficiency and productivity: ERP systems streamline business processes, automate repetitive tasks, and provide real-time insights, improving operational efficiency and productivity gains.
  • Improved data accuracy and visibility: ERP systems’ centralized data management and reporting capabilities enhance data accuracy, integrity, and visibility across the organization.
  • Enhanced collaboration and communication: ERP systems facilitate seamless communication and collaboration among different departments, enabling faster decision-making and smoother workflow processes.
  • Reduced costs in specific areas: By optimizing inventory levels, reducing excess inventory carrying costs, and streamlining HR processes, ERP systems can help SMEs achieve cost savings in various business functions and operational areas.
  • Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty: By delivering products and services more efficiently, addressing customer needs promptly, and improving overall service quality, ERP systems contribute to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty, ultimately driving revenue growth.

Step-by-Step Guide to Calculating Your ERP ROI

According to a recent The Parker Initiative survey of distributors and manufacturers, companies can typically expect to see a return on their investment (ROI) from an ERP system within 2.5 years. Navigating the intricacies of ERP ROI begins with a structured approach. Here’s a systematic breakdown to guide SMEs through the process:

1. Define specific goals and objectives

Before embarking on the ROI calculation process, SMEs should clearly define their objectives and goals for implementing an ERP system. Whether improving operational efficiency, reducing costs, or enhancing customer satisfaction, having clear objectives will guide the ROI analysis and help prioritize key metrics.

2. Identify and quantify associated costs

SMEs should meticulously identify and quantify all costs associated with implementing and using the ERP system, including initial software and implementation costs, ongoing maintenance and support costs, hardware and infrastructure upgrades, and employee training expenses.

3. Establish and specify potential benefits

Once the costs are determined, SMEs should identify and quantify the potential benefits they expect from the ERP system. These benefits include increased efficiency, improved data accuracy, enhanced collaboration, reduced costs, and increased customer satisfaction. Use metrics like:

  • Time saved: Estimate the time saved by automating manual processes and streamlining workflow tasks with the ERP system.
  • Cost reduction: Quantify the savings achieved through improved operational efficiency, optimized inventory management, and reduced overhead expenses.
  • Revenue increase: Assess the potential revenue growth opportunities facilitated by the ERP system, such as improved sales processes, enhanced customer service, and expanded market reach.

4. Calculate your ROI

Once the costs and benefits are identified and quantified, SMEs can calculate their ERP ROI using the following formula:

where: Net Benefit = Total Benefits – Total Costs

  • Net Benefit represents the overall financial gain or loss from the ERP investment.
  • Total Costs encompass all expenses associated with acquiring, implementing, and maintaining the ERP system.
  • ROI is a percentage indicating the return on investment relative to the initial cost outlay.

5. Sample ERP ROI Computations

Calculating ROI can feel abstract, so let’s see it in action with two simplified examples:

Example 1: Manufacturing Company

  • Total Costs: $50,000 (software, implementation, training)
  • Annual Benefits:
    • Reduced inventory holding costs: $15,000
    • Increased production efficiency (saved labor costs): $20,000
    • Improved on-time deliveries (reduced customer penalties): $5,000
  • Annual Net Benefit: $15,000 + $20,000 + $5,000 – $0 (assuming no additional maintenance costs) = $40,000

ROI Calculation:

ROI = (Net Benefit / Total Costs) * 100

ROI = ($40,000 / $50,000) * 100

ROI = 80%

Interpretation: In this simplified scenario, the manufacturing company sees an 80% return on investment within the first year of implementing the ERP system. This suggests the system is generating significant value compared to the initial cost.

Example 2: Retail Store

  • Total Costs: $30,000 (software, implementation, training)
  • Annual Benefits:
    • Improved inventory management (reduced shrinkage): $10,000
    • Enhanced customer service (faster checkout times): $5,000
    • Increased sales due to improved product recommendations: $8,000
  • Annual Net Benefit: $10,000 + $5,000 + $8,000 – $2,000 (assuming annual maintenance cost) = $21,000

ROI Calculation:

ROI = ($21,000 / $30,000) * 100

ROI = 70%

Interpretation: The retail store achieves a 70% ROI in the first year. While lower than the previous example, it still indicates a positive return, suggesting the ERP system generates value despite the ongoing maintenance cost.

These are simplified examples, and actual ROI calculations will involve more complex factors and a longer timeframe. However, they provide a basic understanding of how to assess the potential financial benefits of ERP implementation for your SME.

6. Interpret results and make informed decisions

After calculating the ERP ROI, SMEs should carefully evaluate the results to determine the viability and desirability of implementing the ERP. 

A positive ROI indicates that the financial benefits outweigh the costs, validating the investment decision. Conversely, a negative ROI suggests that the investment may not be financially justified and requires reassessment or reconsideration.


Additional Tips and Considerations for SMEs

Consider intangible benefits

In addition to tangible financial benefits, SMEs should consider intangible benefits such as improved employee morale, better decision-making, and increased agility when evaluating ERP ROI. While these benefits may be challenging to quantify, they can significantly impact the overall success and effectiveness of the ERP implementation.

Combine quantitative and qualitative data

While quantitative metrics are essential for calculating ERP ROI, SMEs should incorporate qualitative data and feedback from employees, customers, and stakeholders to comprehensively assess the system’s impact. Qualitative insights can offer valuable perspectives on user satisfaction, process improvements, and organizational culture changes.

Set realistic expectations

Like short degrees that pay well, achieving a strong return on investment (ROI) with ERP may require patience.  ERP implementations need time to integrate and deliver measurable results fully. By setting achievable goals and milestones, SMEs can maintain momentum and confidence as they navigate this process. This ensures they’re well-positioned to reap the long-term benefits of their ERP investment.

Seek professional guidance

For SMEs with limited expertise or resources, seeking guidance from ERP consultants or advisors can provide valuable insights and support throughout the ROI calculation and implementation phases. Experienced consultants can offer industry-specific knowledge, best practices, ERP modules to include, and tailored recommendations to optimize ERP investments and maximize returns.


In conclusion, calculating ERP ROI is critical for SMEs seeking to leverage technology to drive business growth and competitiveness. By assessing the financial implications and potential returns of ERP investments, SMEs can make informed decisions that align with their strategic objectives and maximize the value of their resources.

We encourage SMEs to use this comprehensive guide as a starting point for evaluating the ROI of ERP systems within their organizations. By following the step-by-step process outlined in this guide and considering additional tips and considerations, SMEs can navigate the complexities of ERP investments with confidence and clarity.

For SMEs interested in learning more about ERP solutions or seeking further guidance on ROI analysis, we recommend exploring additional resources, attending industry events, and engaging with ERP vendors and consultants to gain insights and perspectives tailored to their unique needs and circumstances. Remember, informed decision-making is key to unlocking the full potential of ERP investments and driving sustainable business success.

By empowering SMEs with the knowledge and tools to evaluate ERP ROI effectively, we aim to support their growth, resilience, and prosperity in an increasingly competitive business landscape.

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Author Avatar Sebastian Czubak

Chief Operating Officer. Responsible for overseeing all aspects of the company's operational activities. He has extensive experience in the CRM software industry and successfully leads teams in product development, marketing, sales, and customer service. He is responsible for building knowledge and awareness of Firmao among customers.

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