ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning, to give it its full title – is all about making core processes more efficient, reducing costs and being able to make better decisions. But when it comes to deciding which ERP system’s right for your business, where do you start?
Depending on your business and the way it works currently, adopting an ERP system can be a time-consuming major investment, so it’s well worth making sure you’re as well-prepared as possible and know what to expect before talking to an ERP specialist such as Percipient. So here are ten useful pointers to what needs considering, what you should look for and the questions you should ask when you start thinking about an ERP solution.
- Think about what your company needs…
From small businesses to enterprise-standard, ERP solutions come in all shapes and sizes so they can be tailored to the number of employees, the industry you’re in and so on. The complexity and level of sophistication varies too, so give some thought to what business functions yours will need to support, as some packages will offer modules you don’t need.
- …and what you might need in the future
ERP’s a long-term investment. So don’t just think about what you need now, but what you’ll need in a year or two’s time to help you meet your business goals and support you once you get there. That may mean looking at solutions that are flexible enough to handle new processes and initiatives, and scalable enough to include extra users, with new functionality phased in as you need it.
- Do you want Software-as-a-Service?
Known as SaaS for short, this basically means your software programs are provided as part of your ERP solution rather than having it on your premises. The advantages are that it costs less, is simpler and quicker to implement and can be updated easily; while having on-premise software arguably gives you more security and better control of your data.
- Look at your existing network
Whatever type of ERP set-up you go for – on-premise or hosted – it could put a strain on your existing infrastructure. For example, you might need a new server to run the software, or using SaaS might need more bandwidth than your current network has, so take that into account when you’re choosing your ERP system..
- Make sure you only get the modules you need
Many ERP packages include a suite of modules and software, but you don’t necessarily need them all. A good ERP provider will let you purchase only the modules and services you need, and integrate them as necessary.
- Consider the other business applications available
As an example, ERP and customer relationship management (CRM) are often closely linked. So if you decide your ERP should extend into CRM now, you can narrow down your choice of systems.
- Look at the Total Cost of Ownership
It’s important that you don’t just look at one or two elements of implementing your ERP solution, but take into consideration all the implications from the cost of your software or SaaS subscription to customisation and management services, training, additional hardware or bandwidth and even extra IT staff.
- What are the vendor’s strengths and weaknesses?
What sort of clients do they have? How experienced are they in your industry? How financially stable are they. What do their existing clients think of them? Can they handle a project like yours? They might all seem like obvious questions, but any good vendor will give you honest answers to them all – and not blind you with science.
- Ask for a thorough demo
You’ll find online demos for some ERP products, but it’s simply not enough. Any vendor worth considering will give you a hands-on demonstration so you can experience each module and how it’ll work for you. Involve people from each department too – after all, they’ll be the ones who have to use the system day-to-day.
- Talk to the right ERP consultant
Of course, there’s one simple way to make sure you get exactly what you need in terms of ERP: talk to an unbiased, independent consultant who offers a choice of ERP solutions – such as the leading North-West ERP provider, Percipient (but then we would say that!).
Just call us on 01606 871332 or email us, and we’ll get the ERP ball rolling!
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