7 ways to choose the right ERP system for your business
Anybody involved in running a business will be faced with complex challenges on a daily basis. From IT to payroll to sales, you’ve always got decisions to make to overcome these obstacles and maintain (and ideally grow) your business capability
For the last couple of decades, businesses have been using Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to make these things easier. An ERP system works across the business, holding all the data in one place and providing you with the information you need to make the right decisions.
But over that time ERP systems have evolved and made it that much harder to identify what makes for the best ERP software.
So if you’re having trouble finding the right ERP for your small business or larger enterprise, here are some important aspects to consider.
7 things to remember when looking for the best ERP software
1. Competitive Pricing
Every business needs to make money. So it stands to reason the ERP system you invest in needs to be as competitively priced as possible to maximise your potential return. Take care to investigate your options up front – for example whether it can be bought as a capital purchase or whether you can pay for Software as a Service (SaaS) on a monthly rental model. And make sure you try to get a good picture of the lifetime cost of ownership so you can account for things like annual contract prices and intermittent software upgrades.
2. Credible ERP implementation methodology
This is a big investment, so you need to make sure that you are purchasing both a credible solution and from a credible supplier. Obviously following this list will help with the former, but how do you know if your supplier is the right one for you? A quick way to tell is to check out their methodology which should show you exactly what to expect with your ERP implementation. Are they simply going to put it in and let you figure out the rest? Or will you get a full cyclical support process, including an up-front business analysis which will inform the implementation, followed by ongoing optimisation to maximise your potential into the future?
3. Day-One Benefits
A properly implemented ERP system that suits your business will likely provide a positive ROI in the long run. But ideally you’ll have a system that can deliver from day one. For example, a system that can provide increased visibility across the organisation immediately, ensuring less contradictory information and reducing errors. Or an ERP with real-time trading information (such as gross profit and gross profit percentage on an ongoing basis)—allowing the business to trade with greater confidence, knowing that they’re covering costs, making money and hitting target margin.
Your new ERP system should complement your business, not kill it. You don’t want to purchase a software solution that acts like a straightjacket, forcing you to change your business processes to fit with how the software works. Rather you need a flexible ERP that can be configured to suit your business and the ways that your employees already work. Which also means finding a supplier whose methodology includes taking the time to understand those current processes before implementing anything (see #2).
5. Innovation without disruption
Ideally you want an implementation that offers you continuity of productivity while the new ERP software is rolled out—meaning minimal downtime for your business. Again the credibility of your supplier is key. A smooth implementation is dependent on it being delivered by experienced consultants with a solid history of managing these projects. But it must also be backed by an ERP implementation methodology designed to minimise disruption and maximise innovation—by understanding and giving you exactly what your business needs.
6. What support you’ll receive
Most ERP systems will come with some kind of support contract. But what’s important to understand is the detail. What kind of expertise is available from your supplier—are they a jack of all systems or experts in the one particular ERP package you’re looking at? What kind of online support will you receive? Under what circumstances someone will come on-site to maintain your system? And, importantly, does your supplier know your industry sector enough to add value with the key issues you’ll undoubtedly face in the future?
7. Systems that adapt
Business is an ever moving feast, and changes with staff, processes and direction are happening all the time. Nobody knows what the next 5 or 10 years might hold, so you need to make sure that your ERP software is adaptable enough to fit the changing shape of your business over that time. Thankfully most modern ERPs are evolving in their flexibility, so ideally you’ll have a supplier who’ll be around to continually review and optimise your systems to maximise your potential.