ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is not just an office tool. ERP has transformed from its humble beginnings forty years ago into an integral component of a well-run business. Really, you probably can’t do without it. But not all ERP solutions are the same, and with all the hype and all the advertising, it can be hard to decide which will be best for your business. There is expert help available, but ultimately, you are the one who must decide. The right consultant and implementation partner will be invaluable.
The maturity of the ERP industry has changed not only the functionality but also the approach and cost of ERP. Because of the complexity of modern businesses, more time and resources must be invested in the evaluation and selection process. This very important first step should not be ignored. There are many ERP industry experts and selection consultants who will offer to guide you through the process, but caution is needed when choosing a partner for such an important decision. You need not only someone who is trusted and experienced, who knows the functionality of the software and what it is capable of, but also a partner who will take the time to understand your business and what you hope to achieve and who will provide ongoing support.
It makes sense to work with a partner who shares your vision and will support you through the selection process, somebody who understands your business needs and can translate these into a functional ERP solution. They will be able to assist you in assembling your project team, a difficult task in any business, especially one with limited resources. They will advise on business transformation as well as help to deliver the ERP solution. If done correctly, this can drive a very positive outcome.
Eight steps that can help you toward ERP selection success:
1. Understand your business.
Be sure you fully understand your business and have a clear vision of your goals. Which of your business processes are working for you and need to be incorporated by your ERP solution? On the other hand, which processes can be improved, and will the ERP solution help with that?
2. Consult with experts.
If you use an ERP selection consultant, choose carefully. Be sure they also understand your business and your goals and will give an unbiased opinion based not only on the functionality of the software but also on the value it will add to your business.
3. Make your business accessible.
Allow the providers access to your business processes and team members who use them. Be sure they ask a lot of questions and perform a thorough discovery.
4. Accept analysis.
If you are offered a free business analysis or discovery, don’t turn it down. At the very least, it will provide an opportunity to determine if a provider truly understands what your business is all about, what your goals are, and if they are someone you can work with.
5. Research your partner.
Ask for references and follow up. Make sure they have experience in your industry and niche and have worked well with companies your size.
6. Accept responsibility.
Don’t just hand the whole project over to a consultant or partner. It’s your business, and you should be able to ask questions all along the way and get answers that make sense. You’re buying the sotware for your business; empowering somebody else to make those decisions, someone who can walk away at any time, is less likely to lead to long-term success.
7. Check out your prospects.
Visit the offices of those vendors on your short list. Meet their teams and experience the culture of their business. They will be your partner long after the sales contract has been completed. The relationship and trust need to be built from the start of the selection journey.
8. Always ask yourself this question:
Is your business taking the right level of responsibility for ERP selection, implementation, and management?
Your ERP solution carefully chosen and expertly implemented can become a crucial component of your business success. Choose carefully, and you’ll reap the benefits now and in the future.
By Circle City Software Solutions,