An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is a series of software applications or modules that collects data from your sales, purchasing, ﬁnance, and inventory into a common database so that your company can capture the information, coordinate activities, and collaborate.
If you’re looking for an ERP system or looking to upgrade from an existing system, the evaluation, selection, and implementation process is a long-term strategic decision for your organization, and can be a daunting task. This white paper suggests ways to simplify your selection process.
The ERP System Selection Steps
Step 1: evaluation
Form an evaluation committee that includes management, functional experts, and end users from various departments within your company. Throughout the selection process, end each step with a consensus of all members to gain company-wide acceptance of the ﬁnal ERP system.
Step 2: make an assessment
Assess your existing business processes and the scale of your operation so you can determine what’s being done well. Identify the gaps or key challenges that can be solved with the help of an ERP system.
Step 3: establish criteria
Develop your selection criteria to evaluate the available solutions. Criteria can include features, price, platform, and anything else you can think of. Group the criteria according to importance to your business—very important, important, and less important. Assign a score to each to make the evaluation easier.
Some example criteria includes:
- Industry expertise—How well does the ERP vendor understand your industry? Does the vendor offer industry best practices or pre-deﬁned processes that are generalized or horizontally focused? ERP solutions should, at the very least, address your mission critical business requirements speciﬁc to your industry.
- Total cost of ownership—Determine the long-term TCO for hardware, software, and support—pre- and post-implementation.
- Multi-Site operations support—if you need to collaborate with multiple operations then ensure your ERP vendor can support multi-site operations. Can your ERP vendor support all your locations with a small centralized IT staff? Do they require complicated architectures?
- Customer support—does the ERP vendor have its own in-house support or does it outsource? You’ll gain the most out of your investment if you have access to a customer care center that can answer your key application and technical questions, solve your complex technical or software related issues, and advise on best industry practices.
Step 4: schedule consultations
Arrange a 10-minute phone consultation with both a sales representative and product expert from several ERP vendors. This “discovery call” will provide you with better insight on the vendor and their solution than if you were to rely solely on sales literature.
Step 5: create a shortlist
Shortlist three ERP solutions that best meet your business needs. Your discovery calls should help you eliminate the solutions that are poor ﬁts.
Step 6: make contact
Contact the vendors on your ERP system shortlist to deliver a live presentation and product demonstration.
Step 7: prepare questions
Prepare questions that address your more important requirements, needs, and concerns. How each vendor responds will help you determine the best ﬁt for your company.
Step 8: check vendor references
Check vendor references by visiting and consulting with companies that have implemented the ERP system. Find out if the system is working as expected, and what the company likes or dislikes. If issues were encountered, then determine how the vendor resolved them.
Your evaluation committee should now be able to select an ERP solution based on how well it met your selection criteria, how it performed during the demonstration, and how the references checked out.
Finally, with your selected ERP vendor, spend the time to scope the entire project, from start to ﬁnish. Work with your ERP vendor to map your critical milestones and chart your course to success.