You’ve probably heard the proverbial saying before, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, the truth of the matter is that some things will eventually need to be replaced. A process doesn’t have to be completely out of whack before it begins to cost you - in terms of both cash and productivity.
Still, it’s not every day that you’re on the prowl for a brand-new ERP. On average, most businesses go through the implementation process every seven to ten years. If you’re new to your role, it’s probably safe to say you weren’t a part of that discussion the last time it was had. If you were - well - a lot has changed since then…
Although the search process is far more accessible with recent advancements in technology (ahem, the internet), the market is inundated with choices. Figuring out which solution is best for your business can be overwhelming, especially when you consider that it’s not just about what you’ll need here and now. Fortunately, you don’t have to go at it alone - through years of experience as an ERP partner, we’ve identified six selection criteria you’ll need to zero in on:
- User Experience
- Fit and Functionality
- Integration Capabilities
- Reporting and Analytics
At one time, you could count the number of users on one hand that frequently interacted with the company’s ERP. Now, at least half of all employees will need regular access at some point. With this many cooks in the kitchen, you’ll need to make sure that the user interface is familiar and easy to use. Is it as simple to navigate as your favorite consumer app? Can it be tailored to a variety of user preferences and designated roles? Keep in mind that those using the software will likely be using it daily with very little time to spare.
Fit and Functionality
You’re in the market for a new suit. Would you rather a) a perfect, tailored fit or b) a one size fits all selection? We’d hate to sound like we’re taking sides here, but one size fits all rarely accomplishes the end goal. Instead of an ERP that casts a wide net, narrow your search to software that’s customized for your specific industry. A strong platform that’s accessible to partners and that allows for specialized customization will empower you to do business your way, and not as if you’re attempting to adapt the methods of Company A across town.
How much is this costing us? This is a big one for many decision-makers, and for a valid reason: it doesn’t matter how great the software is if the price is simply too far out of reach. However, before getting hung up on the sticker price, ask yourself “Can we afford to not be running a modern ERP?” There is a cost associated with obsolescence. Implementing a more flexible, scalable solution may end up saving you in the long run, with half of businesses receiving a return on investment after just two years.
You use more than one app on your smartphone, so you’ll probably use more than one when it comes to day-to-day operations. A solid ERP will not only need to integrate seamlessly with your must-have third-party applications, but it will also need to be able to process and prioritize the synchronization of all the data that’s thrown its way. Your customers and suppliers are bound to be on different platforms - but those systems will still need to communicate with one another.
Reporting and Analytics
Basic decisions require basic information, and that information shouldn’t be hard to come by. Automated reporting is at its best when it doesn’t require specific technical or programming skills. The reports generated by your next ERP should - at a minimum - answer questions that you already have, allowing you to dig deeper into the data for further analysis and better decision making.
The best ERP will work to bring the core functions of your business together in ways that are efficient and easy to process. Advanced inventory, warehouse management, and financials should able to coexist on your ideal platform, providing a true end-to-end solution without siloing any information.
When In Doubt, Ask Rockton
Although user experience has consistently remained one of the most critical selection points over the years, it’s important to not compromise on any of these proven criteria. Remember to plan for growth and consider an ERP that fits your individual needs. Let go of any preconceived notions you may have when it comes to ERPs, as well, since a lot has likely changed since your last search.
We understand that the process of finding and implementing a new ERP requires a different set of skills, and can potentially be disruptive, which is why you should never be afraid to seek guidance. As an experienced ERP partner, Rockton Connect can help facilitate the process - from the initial search to the last step of implementation, so that you can continue to focus on what matters day-to-day.