Evaluating your organization’s business software against the needs of the company in order to prepare for enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a big responsibility. Through this literal business transformation, you may be intending to streamline operations, increase revenue, or simply boost overall productivity.
Regardless of which reason you choose for your organization’s ERP efforts, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the monumental size of the task. The ERP software evaluation process can and should be a major undertaking for you and the stakeholders involved. Think divide and conquer… divide your software evaluation process into bite-size steps and thoroughly plan, done correctly, you’ll conquer the process leading you into ERP implementation success.
Before you begin your ERP software evaluation process, we’re suggesting you consider a few of the major questions you could be thinking about leading into the initiation of your evaluation process. You may not have concrete answers to these foundational questions, but having these ideas on your preliminary radar will help reinforce their importance throughout the duration of your ERP project and give you a better understanding of the process overall.
Very early on in your software assessment, even before initiating your official software evaluation process, you’ll begin to look at your immediate business needs as well as any foreseeable future requirements. What do you need from the new software vs. what would be nice to have? What problems will the application be expected to solve? These are among the most obvious questions when performing your software evaluation, but they’re also the most important, making them easy to gloss over. Don’t take shortcuts, poor ERP planning can cost you.
You’ll need to compile a list of the functional requirements you expect from the system so you can connect with software vendors offering field-tested solutions which match these requirements. If you’re upgrading from a legacy software system, avoid limiting your options by simply compiling a list of old system’s shortcomings. Be sure to keep in mind future business goals and growth strategies which your ERP system will be expected to support as well.
From a functionality standpoint, you want an ERP system which can adapt to your business requirements without the needing extensive (or any) customizations. Besides adding difficulty to the implementation process, ERP customizations create complexities during future upgrades when your system will require special consideration.
From a cost perspective, customizations add to the budget in the short term by adding to your itemized list of deliverables during implementation. Consider, also, the long term cost liabilities which occur when your organization is requires an update or bug fix which hasn’t been tested against your customized software. While customizations are sometimes needed, always be prepared to assess the true necessity of a particular feature against the short and long term costs associated with having it.
Your next consideration should involve how you want your system deployed? Your options typically include on-premise, hosted, cloud, and hybrid solutions. Each of these deployment options offers clear benefits depending on your needs, so be sure to research which deployment option or hybrid scenario would work best for your organization.
The biggest factors in your deployment options often include whether your company wants to assume the cost and responsibility of the IT infrastructure associated with on-prem systems versus the accessibility and flexibility of cloud-based systems.
Side note: These deployment options might make ERP sound like a function entirely related to your IT department. One thing to remember, ERP systems are a function of your entire business, not solely the IT department’s responsibility. It’s critical to involve employees from finance, operations, manufacturing and other departments across your organization. By including perspectives from your whole organization in your decision-making process, you ensure each department has a stake in the game.
Your software vendor is your partner in getting what you need from this technology upgrade, so make your decision only after thoroughly vetting your vendor options. Check any potential vendor’s credentials and do the necessary research into past client experiences. Ideally, you’ll find and select a vendor with expertise in your industry and a track record of servicing companies similar to yours.
Throughout the process, your software vendor will make suggestions based on your organization’s goals, the various options available and how other businesses like yours are using the technology to improve their operation. Having an open discussion with your software partner goes a long way in aligning their vision with yours, make sure they’re willing to listen to your specific obstacles. If you intend to increase profitability while leaning out inventory, make sure their suggested solutions are in line with the company’s overall business strategy.
e2b is your partner for next-generation enterprise software to help save you time by automating business processes and streamlining workflows. Today’s ERP systems boost productivity while keeping costs down resulting in a more competitive, agile, and responsive operation. Contact our team of ERP experts when you’re ready to begin your ERP software evaluation process.