How to Choose an ERP Software for Your Company

Choosing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for your company is an important decision that requires careful consideration. As your company grows, managing your business processes – like supply chain, accounting, human resources, customer relationship management and more – can become complex without a robust system to connect everything. That’s where ERP software comes in. It integrates these critical components into a centralized platform to give you more oversight and efficiency.

Implementing an ERP is a big investment though in terms of both time and money. The upfront costs, lengthy implementation, potential business disruption and training make it imperative you select the right software for your needs. Rushing the decision can set your company back if the system ends up being a poor fit. Follow this guide when evaluating ERP solutions to find one that aligns with your business’s goals and capabilities.

Determine Your Requirements

The first step is defining your must-have capabilities for now and the future. Gather input from key department stakeholders to understand their pain points and ideal workflows. As you capture requirements, consider factors like:

  • Company size – Scalability is key as your headcount and transactions volume grows over the next several years. Make sure the ERP can expand without needing to migrate systems.
  • Industry – Many ERPs cater their features to specific industries. Seek an industry-specific solution or one that is easily customizable.
  • Existing software – If keeping certain programs, ensure the ERP integrates well with them.
  • Budget – Calculate total cost of ownership over the lifespan – subscription fees, implementation, customization, training etc.
  • Implementation timeframe – Hosted cloud ERPs can activate faster than on-premise.

Documenting your objectives, constraints and wishes early gives you a baseline to compare options apples-to-apples later. Rank by priority so if trade-offs emerge, you know where you can compromise. Revisit this list throughout the vetting process to keep your decision grounded in actual need versus just shiny features.

Research Your Options

Now it’s time to scour the market for contenders that meet your prerequisites. Leading ERP vendors include SAP, Oracle, Sage, Infor and Microsoft Dynamics. You can also explore specialty niche players focused on your vertical. Cast a wide initial net and request demos from six to eight providers.

In demos, pay attention to the user interface, customizability, reporting capabilities, intelligent automation functions and implementation approach to start narrowing the field. Does the navigation seem intuitive or overly complex for your intended everyday users? Can you easily tailor workflows and fields to your procedures versus conforming to the software defaults? How adaptable are the analytics and visualizations for deriving business insights? Does the proposal include services to ensure a smooth rollout?

You’ll likely see strong products emerge. Supplement demos with research on third-party review sites to balance vendor claims with actual customer experiences. Search for case studies from businesses like yours as another data point on results. At this phase you should be able to reduce options to two to three finalists.

Perform Due Diligence

Now dive deeper through lengthier discussions, site visits and test drives. Scheduling on-site visits to existing clients allows you to query end-users on pros and cons. Hands-on sandbox trials are invaluable for assessing the interface and key functions. Pricing is another crucial diligence element. Secure formal quotes not just on licensing but services. Factor in implementation costs – consultants, training, data migration tools, integrations, customization etc. – for the full picture to inform your ROI modeling.

An ERP impacts nearly all operations, so scrutinize how tailored the solution is to your workflows, organizational hierarchy and reporting methodology. Examine integration efficiency with other line-of-business programs. Review the service level agreement and account management model for continuity of support resources. Assessing vendors and systems thoroughly reduces unwelcome shocks after purchase.

Select an Implementation Partner

A qualified implementation consultant can make or break your ERP rollout. Vet partners thoroughly much like you did the software itself. Seek experts in your industry who carry strong vendor endorsements. Ask for past client referrals and audit their project success rates. Methodology is instrumental – probe on their protocols for tasks like data migration, user training, testing and go-live preparation to align with your culture. Clearly delineate responsibilities between provider and internal staff to streamline decision-making.

Defining business objectives, procurement procedures, implementation parameters and contracts sets the initiative up for victory. This eats resources upfront but pays off exponentially once your shiny new ERP is humming along boosting productivity, connectivity and insight company-wide. Choosing the perfect platform for current needs and sustainable future scaling sets your expanding organization up for shared success.

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