Are you in the process of choosing an ERP solution?
As with any important business and strategic decision, start by clarifying goals and expectations, engaging key stakeholders who can benefit most from successful implementation (and lose the most if problems arise). After the initial phase, you can then start comparing offers suitable for your business. We have already fully addressed this issue in our previous newsletter where we divided the ERP selection process into two areas: functional and so-called project management. Therefore today, we will look over the choosing of an ERP solution from a functional point of view.
What are the differences between individual ERP solutions, what to ask your potential supplier and what to look out for when choosing?
Whether you choose the system yourself or with the help of consultants, you should remain open to all options, as some consultants may prefer one solution over other. The selection itself begins with your idea of the system, analysis of your requirements and addressing potential suppliers. It is really a long-distance run, and it is necessary to consider that even this initial phase will take some time. Already in the wider selection process, you can get the feeling that one solution offers more benefits than the others. Of course, this can be the case, but it can also be a clever sales tactic to win you.
The next step, once you have narrowed down your potential ERP providers, you should create a system implementation checklist and ask specific providers deeper questions about the functionality, such as:
As a business, you can operate in a very specific environment, so your system requirements may be specific. You need to verify that the system has the prerequisites to adapt to your processes. Of course, it should be mentioned that the new system may be in many ways than the old one, and therefore it is not entirely appropriate to create a new adaptation of the system just to resemble the original one. Sometimes it is easier to take over certain processes as they are set up in the new system. But when we identify the processes that need to be adjusted (or do so thanks to the industry in which you do business), we find out how simple or complex these adjustments will be. What steps lead to this change, what complications are associated with it and what the result should be. Also, make sure that the solution provider understands that you have chosen a specific way for your processes to be unique. The next point is the strategic visions and plans of your company. Where do you see it in a few years – e.g.: how many entities do you plan? How will you grow? Are you planning to go public? When choosing an ERP solution, it is good to think about the future – if the system will grow with you, or there may be complications in a few years, when the selected solution will no longer be prosecuted, and you will have to look again and start implementing again.
Flexibility is a very strong point of many ERP systems. How easy and simple it is to adjust the system for your needs – this is a point that should not be missing in your evaluation ranking. What is the flexibility of the system for your specific offers? Is it possible for the user to create reports for his own purposes? Then there is the question of what architecture the system offers. Some ERP solutions have a convenient open architecture into which you can easily integrate another tool that is necessary for your needs, by pre-integrating with other applications, such as a reporting system or e-commerce. Of course, it is desirable to thin your system architecture. A variant of a powerful ERP solution, which forms the center of your business, and related applications, which can be very specific, whether directly for your business or industry, have proven to be effective for this. Furthermore, the question is whether there is a strong community of partners for a given ERP solution, which offers additional applications that are predefined for a specific solution. As an example, we can mention various applications or products that are made specifically for a given solution, such as country-specific localization.
Changing an ERP system is never easy and requires time, patience, and an experienced change / project manager. Therefore it is essential that future ERP users accept the system as their own. This is one part of the coin that you will be able to read about in the next issue of our newsletter. The second part is that you can already guess how user-friendly (un) friendly the system will be, thanks to the system demonstration. Feel how simple or complex the system will be to use and ask a potential supplier about these questions as well.
You might say that data migration is a topic you are not interested in when choosing ERP. Nevertheless, there are issues that we should discuss within it. Questions like: what historical data and for what period do we want to migrate? Does the system have the capacity to receive and process so much data? Will we migrate data from legacy systems and is our ERP solution aware of this complexity? How will we approach data cleaning and eliminate redundant, duplicate, and obsolete data? A question that seems simple at first glance but will surely return to you like a boomerang in the future.
Maintenance and Support
After a successful implementation, the question is how will you continue to manage the system – with your own resources, or with the help of a provider, a professional consultant or even a programmer? It is a good idea to find out how difficult it is to maintain a given system in this part of ERP selection, and to think about whether you will manage the system and maintenance yourself, how many people and with what qualifications are needed. It is better if you choose a future system administrator at this stage and this person will be interested in the next steps. From our experience, we can confirm that designating a person responsible for managing the system can benefit from not requiring such broad support from consultants. Of course, it depends on the type of system and the complexity of its maintenance, this point is closely linked to the point of flexibility of the platform.
In our next newsletter, we will focus on the second group of activities that are necessary in the ERP selection phase from a project management point of view. Learn more about how to properly identify project costs, the differences between license costs and implementation costs, what to look for in terms of time, and much more.
We will be happy for your feedback and appreciate if you let us know your experience with choosing an ERP system. If you are already in the selection process and you are not sure, contact us and we will gladly to help you!
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