How to buy an ERP? This is one of the most common questions heard in the business software industry (right up there with “What is ERP?”), and there’s no easy answer. This guide will attempt to walk you through the process from start to finish, but for a more detailed and tailored-to-your-business explanation, feel free to contact one of our consultants; we’re always ready to help.
What is ERP?
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems are the heart of your living, breathing business organization. An ERP connects business processes and activities across all departments, allowing employees to work with and analyze the same data from the same source in real-time. By ensuring that all involved have access to the most up-to-date information and resources, your operations can function smoothly and more efficiently. The multiple boons from ERP software are plentiful, ranging from increased turnaround on work orders to better customer service and especially reduced expenses.
Depending on the type and brand of ERP system you choose, there are a variety of different modules and tools to improve your business. Business Intelligence components give your organization access to data analytics that allow you to see and act upon automated or custom reports about your sales and operations. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is one of the most important business tools around in the modern era, and the best ERP systems come with this customer focused module built-in. Supply Chain features are some of the most sought-after aspects in an ERP system, focusing on keeping track of your company’s inventory, raw goods, vendors, and everything else you need to keep an eye on your manufacturing processes.
These are just some of the many features and modules available in various ERP systems. For more information about which components are important to your business, contact one of our consultants today.
Should We Select?
This is the million dollar question, quite often literally; a new or upgraded ERP system should be expected to cost around 6-9% of your top line revenue, when all internal and external factors are considered. ERP’s come in many shapes and sizes, from home-grown solutions built by your own IT department to all-in-one, out-of-the-box systems that claim to do everything you could ever want in a neat package. The answer all depends on what you need from your new ERP system, and that’s where a detailed look at your own company performance expectations, desired efficiency gains, and growth expectations should be carefully considered and matched to software capabilities.
First of all, you and your company stakeholders should consider what kind of ERP software your organization needs. Some ERP solutions are catered to specific types of industries, be they discrete manufacturing or oil & gas or automotive. These ERP systems have niche modules dedicated to specific tasks that might do the one job you need them to but could lack features you might want to expand on later. Other options have additional modules that can be purchased later on to meet your changing needs. This is where a scalable ERP solution should be considered, as businesses should always plan for success – and with success comes larger and more nuanced operational needs. The best ERP solutions provide the means for you to upgrade and enhance your existing software functions in the future without the need for extensive reconfiguration or development.
Choosing the right ERP solution is wholly dependent on what your business hopes to achieve with the new software. To this end, it is vital that you partner with the right vendor and/or implementation partner (VAR) to aid in the selection of the perfect ERP for your needs. Which leads us to…
Who Should We
Purchase the ERP From?
Selecting the right ERP for your business is only half the battle – or even less, in fact. While the software certainly needs to meet your requirements, the other half (or more) is finding the right team to implement it with you. One of the most common choices is to select an ERP vendor (such as a business software consultancy) that specializes in a particular industry vertical, though there are strong established generalist consultancies which have experience in a plethora of industries. There are many reasons for this choice, but the most important is the “relationship” aspect; for such a large-scale project, it is ideal to locate a consultant local to your business area and/or experienced in your niche. Some larger vendors tout their huge portfolio of clients as a selling point, whereas some smaller vendors use their size as a way to be more focused on your ERP implementation. The choice comes down to your needs.
When selecting a business consultant to implement your new ERP software, you must have a one-on-one analysis of your business. This is the only way the consultant can know what you need, want, and hope to achieve with the ERP solution. Requesting references from the consultant is always a good first step, and determining what their post-implementation support consists of is integral. Your ideal implementation partner will be with you every step of the way, long after the final implementation has been completed. An new ERP or upgrade requires monitoring and taylorization, so you will want to ensure you partner with a consultancy that will assist you with anything you need – and also predict your needs along the way.
Experience is a huge factor when selecting your ERP vendor or consultancy. Not just with previous projects or similar clients, but with problem solving skills and ability to adjust on-the-fly. Sometimes your needs may change mid-implementation, so partnering with a vendor who can make changes to the plan with ease is essential. A rigid, unbending partner can cause problems later on – especially if you’re looking for a scalable solution. The best part about partnering with a business consultant for your ERP implementation is the “personal touch”; a local and/or specialized business software consultant can be there any time of day or night, ready to dispatch team members to your location at a moments notice during a system down emergency. You also don’t have to deal with layers upon layers of corporate bureaucracy, as you’ll be dealing with the same people who will be doing the work as opposed to various middle-people who just talk or do not actually know the software they’re dealing with.
Knowing is only half the battle; once you’ve determined your needs and which ERP software you wish to implement, choosing the right ERP vendor/consultant is just as important as selecting a specific solution. Think carefully about your business’ specific needs and not just what you assume an organization like yours should be looking for. Location, size, and necessities differ for all companies, so ensure that whoever you choose is a good fit for your business and the software you select.