5W – Business Support Services (BSS)

Thank you for reading! Please see “Why 5W?”  for context, methodology and disclaimers.

BSS Overview

In a rapidly-evolving business landscape, businesses require support services to keep operations running smoothly. The Business Support Services (BSS) domain consists of vendors who provide Line of Business (LOB) packaged services to businesses, integrated through services to provide a common data infrastructure. This bears some explanation, as the definition above also applies to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems .. the previous generation of Business Support Systems.

By contrast, modern SaaS-based ERP and BSS systems are significantly easier to deploy, enable mobile functions out-of-the-box and are better-received by end users. Through services-based API integration, these systems don’t require the rip-and-replace of any incumbent systems. My purpose for drawing this correlation is to point out that ERP and BSS essentially perform the same functions in an end-customer environment. However, legacy ERP is monolithic and tightly-connected to captive modules, whereas BSS achieves the same functionality through built-in integration, interoperability and mobile capabilities.

BSSs encompass a wide range of essential services, from accounting and bookkeeping to administrative tasks such as data collection, customer service and human resources management. By outsourcing these tasks to systems, businesses can focus on their core competencies and achieve growth and success.

Business Benefits

One of the significant benefits of leveraging BSS is the cost-effectiveness. Small and medium-sized enterprises often lack the resources to hire full-time employees for various roles, such as accounting and IT support. Outsourcing these tasks to BSS providers saves these businesses significant amount of money, where they will pay for only the services they require and reduce the need for dedicated internal support. The best part: BSS can enable businesses to access expertise and technology outside their core competencies, allowing them to do what they do best without worrying about LOB system overhead.

The segment BSS serves is full of business customers with a lot of LOB needs, including financial (AR / AP / Payroll), E-Commerce (OM / WM / Fulfillment), HCM (recruiting / talent management / project time tracking), Sales (CRM / MAP) and many more. Businesses can select from well-enabled, self-service vendors who have massive feature / benefit overlap, but few differentiators. The market is broad and confusing, but businesses need to explore it. Vital LOB functions in these spaces have their own challenges:

  • Financial processes demand automation and errors can be expensive.
  • Payroll rules are constantly changing, and businesses need to keep up to avoid incurring fines for non-compliance.
  • Consumer payment functions require PCI compliance and the fulfillment paradigm is complex.
  • HCM is a set of complex and manual processes for companies .. not without potential legal exposure.
  • CRM and MAP systems are typically ad-hoc and disconnected in the SMB space.

BSSs can formalize manual processes, and where incumbent systems exist, extend these functionalities through interoperability and integration.

BSS Capabilities

BSSs encompass all of the functions SMBs and MMEs require .. an easy target, as most of these functions are standard business processes, required by all businesses in most any space. As noted above, these include a wide variety of ‘standard’ business systems in the accounting realm, as well as extending into systems that a BSS customer may be performing manually, like recruiting, on-boarding, off-boarding, payroll .. as well as end customer-facing functions like E-Commerce, Marketing Automation (MAP) and so on.

BSS vendors bring all the benefits of SaaS right out of the box: modern architectures with built-in integration, SLA-based uptime, pay-as-you-go pricing, mobile device access and more. Services offerings, typically delivered by partners enhances the implementation experience and ensures businesses are functional in short order with predictable cost.

BSS Use Cases

The low-hanging fruit is payroll .. most all the vendors in the space offer it as table stakes. From there, other offerings emerge as vendors leverage their respective LOB experience to create a larger portfolio. As the space is broad and deep, please refer to ‘Companies in the Field’, below, for expansion on vendors and the services they support. Other BSS use case offerings include:

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System:

  • Manages customer interactions and lead tracking.
  • Generates activity reports, sales reports and forecasts.
  • Monitors / Manages customer service and support requests.
  • Analyzes customer behavior and preferences.
  • Manages customer segmentation and activities for marketing campaigns.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System:

  • Integrates and automates core business processes like finance, inventory, procurement, order management, fulfillment and more.
  • Manages and tracks inventories.
  • Streamlines order processing and fulfillment.
  • Generates financial statements and reports.
  • Facilitates resource planning and allocation.

Human Resources Information System (HRIS) / Human Capital Management (HCM):

  • Manages employee records, including personal information, job history and performance evaluations.
  • Tracks employee time and attendance.
  • Administers payroll and benefits.
  • Manages recruitment and onboarding processes.
  • Conducts performance management and training.

Supply Chain Management (SCM) System:

  • Tracks inventory levels and optimizes stock levels.
  • Manages supplier relationships and procurement processes.
  • Plans and optimizes transportation and logistics.
  • Integrates with order processing and fulfillment.
  • Analyzes supply chain performance and identifies bottlenecks.

Financial Management System (FMS):

  • Manages financial transactions and accounts payable / receivable.
  • Generates invoices and tracks payments.
  • Creates and manages budgets.
  • Conducts financial forecasting and analysis functions.
  • Ensures regulatory compliance and generating financial reports.

Project Management System:

  • Create and manage project schedules and timelines.
  • Assign tasks and track progress.
  • Facilitate collaboration and communication across team members and connected teams.
  • Manage project resources and budgets.
  • Monitor and evaluate project performance.

IT Service Management (ITSM) System:

  • Manage IT service requests and incidents.
  • Track and resolve technical issues and outages.
  • Manage software and hardware assets.
  • Implement change management processes.
  • Monitor and analyze IT service performance.

Collaboration and Unified Communication Systems (UCaaS):

  • Facilitate team collaboration and communications.
  • Share documents and files in real-time.
  • Enable virtual meetings and video conferencing.
  • Manage and assign tasks.
  • Facilitate internal and external communication.

These are just a few examples of the various BSSs in the marketplace. Specific use cases will vary depending on the needs of the organization and any incumbent systems / processes to augment or replace.

The more an organization can integrate BSSs with other systems, the better the opportunity for reliable data collection. Quality, correlated data collections provide the means for an organization to significantly improve Business Intelligence and Data Governance efforts. These are compelling bonus opportunities to consider when assessing the costs and benefit to engage in a BSS implementation.

BSS Providers

Follows a list of BSS vendors with use case, vertical and media mapping. It is by no means complete, but provides offerings to support SMB / MMB space. The BSS story can be used as a vendor entry point for any of the underlying use cases, leading to BSS implementations.

Last, note that several of the offerings below are labelled ‘ERP’ .. but the differentiation from BSS functions (as described above) is largely semantic.

Vendor / OfferingDeploymentUse Cases / ModulesNotes
AS Systems (Atlas)On-PremisesPlanning and Management of Production
Finance and Accounting
Purchasing and Supply Planning
Sales and Client Requests
Project Management
Management of Lease Contracts
Managing Customer Relations
Warehouse Management
Service Module
Logistic Module
E-commerce B2B
Payroll and Personnel Management
Business Analysis
Мobile Commerce
Business Cloud EssentialsSaaSManufacturing
Financial Management
People Management
Spend Management
Field Services Management
Offers Services beyond BSS / ERP solutions.
Epicor KineticSaaSEpicor Prophet 21 (SCM)
Epicor BisTrack (MRP)
Epicor Eagle (RMS)
Epicor Propello (RMS)
Intuit – QuickBooksSaaSSeveral Use Cases for SMBsActively pursuing sole proprietors with radio and ads. Offers a trial.
MIE SolutionsSaaSMIE Trak Pro
Sales Orders
Work Orders
MIE Trak Pro
MIE Mobile Warehousing
MRP Focus. Case Studies
MondaySaaSProject Management
Creative Agencies
Marketing & PR
Client Management
Product Management
Agile Development
Sales and Business Development
Orders and Production
HR and Recruitment
Team Management
Focus on scheduling and collaboration.   Actively pursuing SMBs with TV ads.
Financial Management
Global Business Management
SuitePeople Human Resource Management System (HRMS)
NetSuite Professional Services Automation (PSA)
Suite Success
The most extensive (and priciest) suite of BSSs. Owned by Oracle.   Actively pursuing SMBs with radio and TV ads.
OdooSaaS On-PremisesCRM
POS and Sales
Project Engagement
Timesheet and Helpdesk
MRP and Purchase
Website and E-Commerce
Invoicing and Accounting
Email Marketing and MAP
Developer Tools
Open-source ERP. Start for free.
OnCloudERPSaaSApplication Modules
HR / Payroll (soon)
Assets (soon)
Project (soon)
CRM (soon)
Start for Free (pricing page)  
OnTaskSaaSDocument Workflow
Sales Automation
HR Automation
Operations Automation
Oracle ERP CloudUnknownUnknownWhile this site still exists (redirected to a demo request page), OEC may be deprecated in favor of the NetSuite acquisition.
Paycom.comSaaSTalent Acquisition
Talent Management
HR Management
Time and Labor Management
How Paycom Plans to Take Over the Payroll Software Industry   Actively pursuing SMBs with TV ads.
Sage Business CloudSaaSSage 50Cloud Accounting
Sage Business Cloud Accounting (invoicing) Sage Payment Processing
Sage Intaact (midsize)
Favors MME, but SMB for financial.   Some brand confusion between SBC and other Sage kits.
SAP Business By DesignSaaSSAP Business By Design Features:
Project Management
ScoroSaaSFeatures include:
Project Management
Work Scheduling and Tracking
Financial Management
Sales / CRM
Reporting and Dashboards Integrations through Zapier via the Scoro Marketplace
Solid integration and mobile stories.
SurePayrollSaaSIndustry-Built ERP / MRP system, including Automotive Electronics Food and Beverage Industrial Machinery Consumer Goods Fabricated Metals Packaging Plastics and Rubber Medical DevicesOwned by Paychex.   Actively pursuing SMBs with TV ads.
SYSPROSaaS On-PremisesVery broad suite: Business Software Business Digitalization Business Functions (BSS) Manufacturing TypesIndustry-Built ERP / MRP system, including:
Food and Beverage
Industrial Machinery
Consumer Goods
Fabricated Metals
Packaging Plastics
Rubber Medical Devices
WorkdaySaaSFinancial Management
Professional Services Automation
Cloud / Platform
Zoho OneSaaSWorkplace (office suite)
IT Management
People Plus (HCM)
CRM Plus
Solid Integration story .. lots of smaller applications; some standalone, others as integration kits.

ED: As Article Publish dates are frozen in time, it is quite possible reviewed vendors and their capabilities may have advanced beyond those presented herein. Please accept my apologies for my shortcomings. A note to vendors: please reach out to update your current offering capabilities and I will update.

BSS Audiences

A BSS implementation is not industry-specific. Virtually every industry need this toolset. Some highlights:

 Retail and E-commerce:

  • Manage inventory, track sales and streamline order processing and fulfillment.
  • Facilitate customer relationship management, marketing campaigns and loyalty programs.

Manufacturing and Supply Chain:

  • Track and optimize production planning, inventory management and procurement processes.
  • Improve supply chain visibility, streamline logistics and enable effective supplier management.


  • Appointment scheduling, staff scheduling and electronic health records (EHR) management.
  • Billing and insurance claims processing as well as supporting inventory and supply chain management.


  • Customer relationship management for service providers.
  • Billing and invoicing, service provisioning and network performance monitoring.

Professional Services:

  • Project management, time tracking and resource allocation in consulting firms, law firms, and other professional service organizations.
  • Client billing and contract management.


  • Student enrollment and registration, academic records management and grading.
  • Course scheduling, resource allocation and learning management systems.

Transportation and Logistics:

  • Optimize route planning, fleet management and shipment tracking.
  • Warehouse management, inventory control and transportation logistics.

These are just a few examples of industries that can benefit from implementing BSS. The specific needs and requirements may vary within each industry, but the underlying goal is to streamline operations, improve customer satisfaction and improve the bottom line.

BSS implementations will benefit for a wide range of audiences within a business organization. Some key audiences that can consider the value:

Executive Leadership:

  • Access to accurate and real-time data for making strategic decisions.
  • Insights into the organization’s performance, financial health and market trends.

Operations and Business Managers:

  • Streamline and automate core business processes.
  • Enhance efficiency, reduce manual work and improve process visibility, allowing managers to optimize resource allocation, monitor performance, and drive operational excellence.

Sales and Marketing Teams:

  • Track and manage customer interactions, leads and measure campaign effectiveness.
  • Provide a centralized customer database, sales forecasting tools, and marketing analytics, empowering teams to enhance customer engagement, improve conversions, and drive revenue growth.

Customer Service and Support:

  • Manage and track customer inquiries, complaints and service requests.
  • Access to customer activity, ticketing systems and facilitate knowledge sharing to improve response times and better issue resolution.

Human Resources:

  • Manage employee records, automate HR processes and improve workforce management.
  • Streamline recruitment, onboarding, time and attendance tracking, payroll management, performance evaluations  and training, all leading to increased efficiency and employee satisfaction.

Finance and Accounting:

  • Streamline financial operations, manage accounts payable / receivable and generate accurate financial reports.
  • Automate invoicing, payment tracking, budgeting, expense management and regulatory compliance, thus improving financial visibility, accuracy and control.

IT Departments:

  • Provide self-service IT capabilities, manage IT service requests, incidents and assets.
  • Automate ticketing, asset tracking, change management, performance monitoring to improve IT services.

Specific audiences may vary depending on the organization’s structure, industry, and specific business needs.


Whether CRM, ERP, HRIS, OM, MAP, EC, WM, FM, SCM .. or a variety of other BSS alphabet soup, an appropriate BSS implementation will result in improved processes, error reduction and smoother operations. BSS plays a crucial role in enabling businesses to thrive and adapt in today’s competitive and dynamic business environment.

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