ERP Selection Tips
You know that it’s time for your organization to implement ERP. The benefits of increased visibility, workflow automation and reduced costs are just too great to ignore. Now you’re asking yourself, “Which vendor do I choose?” The vast sea of ERP vendors is not easy to navigate, but there are ways to simplify the selection process and find the ideal fit for your business. Below, we’ve compiled the top five guidelines for choosing the right ERP system to take your company to the next level.
Form a Selection Committee
An ERP solution is intended to drive business improvements across departments, and different departments are going to have different functions in mind when they seek out the right software. While your accountants fixate on flexible general ledgers and multicurrency management, your IT department is looking for a solution that can be easily modified and maintained. To ensure your system meets the array of requirements throughout your business, form a cross-functional selection committee. This group should consist of IT personnel as well as managers and executives. Your committee will work to find a solution that fits both technical and operational requirements.
Identify Company Goals
One of the first jobs of your selection team will be defining goals for your new implementation. For this task to be effective, you’ll need to determine the inefficiencies and necessary functions throughout your enterprise. Thoroughly model your business processes to find the menial activities that are wasting time or areas plagued by poor transparency and communication. Which workflows need to be automated? What data is going unused?
Then, prioritize your requirements to ensure your project remains within scope. For example, if the greatest concern is inventory management, put off customizations on other modules to focus on perfecting your inventory management modules and strategies. Never lose sight of these goals throughout the selection process—you want your system to be able to meet many of your needs out of the box, so you don’t have to undergo too many costly customizations.
Determine Technical Requirements
Once you’ve determined the problems you want your new system to solve, identify the technical requirements. The last thing you want is software that crashes and burns soon after it’s rolled out. Your solution should be able to handle your workload without delays or errors.
Additionally, the ERP software must include enough flexibility to allow for necessary integrations, configurations and customizations. Though your solution should meet several needs out of the box, it’s rare for a system to support every organizational goal throughout its lifetime. That’s because each business is different and undergoes changes. Seek out a scalable platform that can support growing business needs and enable necessary modifications without extensive costs, time or risk.
Deployment options are also essential considerations. Most businesses are moving their systems to the cloud because of its affordability and simplified upgrades. However, other enterprises opt for on-premises ERP to gain total control over their data maintenance. But your choices aren’t just cloud or on-prem. Hybrid, private cloud, public cloud and even more options are available. Do your research to determine the deployment strategy that works best for your organization and find solutions that can support your desired hosting method.
Search for Vendors
Now, you’re ready to begin your ERP vendor search. Though there’s an astounding volume of ERP vendors, you can start narrowing your search by looking up some of the top vendors for your industry. If you don’t seek out providers that specialize in your industry, you won’t receive the functions and modules necessary for your business’s success. For example, a manufacturer or distributor would be wise to reach out to Epicor, which has specialized in those industries for over 45 years. But an ERP vendor that focuses on retail solutions won’t provide value for that company.
When researching providers, don’t rely exclusively on sales pitches. Get in contact with similar industries as well as clients of different vendors. What are the strengths and weaknesses of their providers? Would they recommend their solutions? How was their overall user experience, and have they witnessed improvements after their implementation? These anecdotes can help you visualize whether a system fits well in your enterprise.
Once you have a shortlist of ERP vendors, begin scheduling demonstrations. If possible, arrange for an on-site visit prior to the demo. By witnessing your shop floor and processes in action, sales reps can more easily align the demo to your specific operations. Communicate everything you need from your ERP instance before the demo, so that you’re receiving a tailored presentation rather than a generic overview. Develop a vendor scorecard to measure the functionality and fit of each system. This helps you keep track of all the software and ensure that you’re analyzing how well the instances align with business needs.
You’ll likely require more than one round of demonstrations. After completing initial demonstrations, narrow down your list and reach out to the remaining vendors for a final demo. The provider will likely request sample data to help you see how the system can handle your specific workload.
ERP is a massive market. Selecting the optimal solution for your business can seem like finding a needle in a haystack. However, if you center the process around your specific goals and take a strategic approach, you’ll find your perfect software match.
Datix is here to assist you with ERP selection and any other stage of your implementation. For over 20 years, we’ve guided countless clients throughout their ERP, CRM, eCommerce and integration projects. Our expert consultants know the best methods for reaching out to providers and determining software requirements. As an Epicor Platinum Partner, we also specialize in one of the top vendors for manufacturing and distribution solutions. Our consulting firm is a one-stop shop for all your enterprise software needs.
Make sure you have the right ERP platform to power business growth—reach out to Datix today for optimal software solutions and services!