“When ERP projects succeed, businesses generally derive incremental value from two sources: 1) automation of streamlined processes, and 2) an ability to make more effective data-driven decisions. The road to ERP success starts with selection.”
– from Driving ERP Success at Manufacturing and Distribution Companies by Ziff Davis, Inc.
As we’ve discussed in previous articles, the success of your ERP efforts rely heavily upon the ERP software you are using. While choosing an out-of-the-box ERP solution may seem like a good idea in the moment, it is not the best solution long-term. In order to be effective, your ERP solution needs to be somewhat customized to your company’s needs and desires. If it’s not meeting your needs now, it won’t help you achieve your goals in the future.
Choosing an ERP solution can be tricky, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. That’s why so many companies opt for out-of-the-box solutions. If you desire true ERP efficiency and success, however, you need to find the right solution for you. We’ve worked with small and mid-sized businesses and manufacturing companies for many years and have identified three key tips for choosing the right solution for your company. Keep the following in mind as you choose your next ERP software:
1. Identify your company’s goals and create a plan of action for your ERP efforts.
Before you can even begin thinking about purchasing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, you need to identify why you need the solution in the first place. Are you losing money on inefficiencies? Are you having difficulty tracking your stock? Is your accounting inconsistent in your current solution? Identifying the why will help you determine the what (that is, what solution would be best for you).
Sit down with key personnel and identify your current problem areas and research how ERP can alleviate the troubles you are currently facing. Include the IT department in this process, as they will have valuable insight into what the company needs in the next software solution. Once you’ve identified your goals for ERP, create a plan of action. Assign specific tasks to key personnel, write down the ERP process (as you predict it to be), and formulate a timeline. While many ERP projects take longer than expected, having an estimate in your head will help guide the process along as efficiently as possible.
2. Choose the software that meets your unique needs.
When it’s time to choose the software, refer to your goals and list of unique requirements often, as this will serve to guide you to the right software for your company. For manufacturing ERP needs, make sure you choose a solution capable of streamlining the inventory tracking process. Investing in a solution with barcoding capabilities and mobile features is also a good idea. For other industries, make sure you choose a solution that can adequately streamline your accounting processes and has the financial reporting capabilities you need to make more effective decisions.
You will also want to explore whether or not the Cloud would be the right fit for you. ERP vendors offer a variety of hosting options, including traditional, on-premises solutions, Cloud-based solutions, and hosted/managed service solutions. Take the time to research these options and determine which would be the best fit for your company in the long-term.
3. Train and engage your employees.
When you present your ERP software implementation as a business initiative rather than a technology project, the software will be better received amongst your employees. With that in mind, make sure to provide adequate training to everyone who will be using the software. This will not only ensure proper ERP usage, but it will also provide managers with an avenue to receive feedback should there be any gaps between the software and the company’s projected goals and business plans.
While the selection process certainly requires a lot of time and attention, we promise it will be worth your effort. If your company is currently in the market for a new ERP solution, or if you’d simply like to upgrade your current solution, give us a call today. We offer ERP software for small businesses, manufacturers, and distributors alike and are committed to partnering with you through the entire implementation process (and beyond).
For more tips on selecting the right enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for your company, download our whitepaper, “The Five Point Plan to ERP Selection Success”. It is packed full of useful tips and information about the ERP selection process and value of choosing the right ERP software.