How To Choose The Right ERP Solution For Your Business
You have many options to choose from when selecting the best ERP system for your company. But how do you know which one is going best?
There are many things to consider, like budget and productivity levels.
Below are the steps you should take to find the best ERP solution for your organisation?
Step 1: Conduct a process review and analysis
A structured approach to ERP software selection can help you avoid the major pitfalls.
The first and most important task is understanding your business processes with an external review from an experienced vendor.
A documented business process will increase efficiencies and reduce overhead costs. In addition, there will be less wasted time and money due to the reduced unnecessary paperwork and the efficiency of automated workflows.
The more information you provide about your business process and system requirements, the easier it will be for vendors to provide an optimised solution.
Let each vendor know what problems or opportunities exist to determine if their product can fill those gaps before deciding which vendor is right for you!
This will help you determine the essential functions for each business area. These financial savings can be determined before you make any final decisions.
Step 2: Evaluate ERP technology platforms supported
The right ERP solution for your business should be the priority in selecting a technology platform.
It is crucial to consider the pros and cons of each technology platform before making your decision. For example, cloud-based ERP systems have become more popular, but they make up a small percentage of ERP solutions sold across the globe.
Managed services offer an option if you want to save on capital expenses by renting out servers from a third-party provider; however, this comes at higher risk as you rely on a third party to secure and manage your data.
If an on-premise system suits your business needs best, you need to account for the large capital outlay required to develop your business IT (Information Technology) infrastructure. In addition, the maintenance and management cost of the on-premises system is also a factor that must be considered in your decision-making process.
Step 3: Plan an Effective Budget
When investing in ERP software, you should be cautious in planning your budget.
You may think the most expensive system is best when deciding, but this is not always true. To find which ERP system will work for your business and its needs, you should consider what other systems are available, their features, and how much they will cost – not just on initial installation and annual license fees.
If possible, try looking at more than one solutions provider before committing yourself. Consider the industry-specific features available, discounts offered and vendor-specific specials which may be available.
Emphasis should be placed on long-term value, not just the cost implications, as long-term savings may heavily outweigh the initial investment required.
Step 4: Understand the total cost of ownership
Understanding the total cost of an ERP solution can be pretty challenging.
Sales representatives may try their best not to show you these hidden costs, like implementation and hardware upgrades, but they should still be discussed upfront, so there are no surprises downline!
Make sure “hidden” expenses are uncovered before committing yourself.
Step 5: Identify & Evaluate the ERP software options you want to test
You should make a list of three ERP systems you want to consider and ask for a demo of each.
So reach out and schedule some meetings!
The vendor should ask you the following questions so be ready for them:
- What are the existing processes in the business?
- Are there any identifiable bottlenecks in the current workflow?
- What is the number of users required?
- How many transactions do you complete daily?
When selecting a vendor, priority should be placed on their certification, industry recognition, and implementation record of accomplishment. Experienced ERP specialists will offer a more consultative approach and will be able to understand the details of each business process. This will benefit you when selecting a product, but it will also assist in optimising the solution chosen for your business-specific needs.
The best ERP vendors involve themselves in the evaluation process, recommending the solution that offers the most value to your organisation.
The following questions need to be answered when considering a solution:
- Are our needs being met?
- What is the total cost of ownership?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the system?
- Is the user interface simple and easy to navigate?
- How much training is required for our staff to be able to work on the system efficiently?
- Can it integrate with our other systems? Which systems can it integrate with?
- What is the support community like for this system? Does it have a robust partner network?
- What are the associated risks?
- What is on the technology roadmap for the system in the near future (5-10 year outlook)?
Finally, make sure you are evaluating all systems against the same criteria.
Step 6: Keep your options open
Whilst many organisations and high-level decision-makers prefer to go with popular brands in the ERP space; this will not always provide the best possible results.
Many ERP solutions are available on the market, all with varying degrees of functionality and strengths. As an organisation, you should consider your options carefully and always focus on which solutions and vendors will best meet their unique business requirements.
Step 7: Look for objective and independent advice
Just as entrepreneurs need to research their competitors, so does a company need information on what other companies are using or recommending. It may be difficult at first glance, but plenty of online resources are available to help you get started!
An excellent place to start will be by asking colleagues and employees if they have any recommendations when considering new software systems. After all, we are always looking outwards first rather than inwardly.
You cannot just rely on the advice of salespeople when choosing an ERP system. It is essential to research and find out for yourself which platform would best suit your company’s needs!
Step 8: Develop a realistic implementation plan
When choosing a new software solution, make sure you do your research and read feedback from other companies before committing.
Be aware that even though vendors may provide an implementation timeline estimate during the sales cycle, it is essential to develop this plan early on for all parties involved (yourself included) to know exactly what will need funding or resources, so there are no surprises down the line.
It is vital to develop an in-depth project plan before you make your final software decision so that the total cost and resources required for success can be fully understood.
This includes everything from business process design, data migration pilot programs (if applicable), conference room pilots, or multiple test iterations, depending on the time needed after the installation has been completed
Also, ensure critical organisational change management activities are included to ensure all users accept their newly implemented system as it should work seamlessly without any issues.
Step 9: Make the user experience a priority
When considering deploying new systems, it is critical to consider just how easy it will be for end-users to learn and operate these technologies without any intervention from IT.
The last thing you want is software that turns people off and makes them avoid using it until they are forced to use it. This will hurt the company’s productivity.
Consider the resources the selected vendor offers, such as cheat sheets, training manuals, and other community platforms or forums. These vendors’ resources will play a significant role in helping your team adapt and master the new software deployed.
Step 10: Select the right business partner
When implementing a new ERP system, finding the right partner to work with you throughout your entire infrastructure is essential.
Partnering with an expert service provider ensures they have experience in not only one but many technologies impacting our digital world today and tomorrow.
These technologies can include:
- CRM solutions
- Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platforms for managing content across all channels
- Social media websites like Facebook or Twitter feeds directly onto company intranets
- Web Design/SEO services so that customers can be found, nurtured and converted into clients.
The transition to a new ERP system will require outside help because of internal IT staffing constraints or time pressures. When this happens, you need to choose the vendor wisely. The vendor needs to have enough industry experience and an inside understanding of your type of business.
Remember that deciding on an ERP solution will impact the long-term success of your organisation.
For more information on the benefits of reviewing your ERP System – click here