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How to Evaluate an Enterprise Resource Planning System

Struggling with inaccurate inventory numbers, reporting/tracking?

Having a hard time with month-end close?

Working with a legacy system that’s slowing you and your team down?

Sounds like you need a new Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP).

But going through the vendor selection process can seem like a monumental challenge. It’s hard to know what questions to ask, who should have a say in the platform you pick, what features you might need to implement, and even who you should get to install the software.

Luckily, we have a few tips for evaluating an enterprise resource planning system that can help guide your decision and ensure a successful implementation. Read on to learn why ERP selection is critical and how to make an informed choice for your business.

Why choosing the right ERP is critical to your business

Think of your ERP as the Nervous System of your company. How the nervous system transmits signals between the brain and the rest of the body is similar to how your ERP system can allow you to operate your company in real time through your entire organization.

If your ERP is not being utilized efficiently or to its maximum potential, it can greatly affect how your company does business. A lagging ERP can disrupt supply chain operations, distribution, inventory, or even how data or reports are being used across the company. Eventually, these issues pile up and begin to negatively impact the customer experience, as well as the bottom line and efficiency of your organization. And at some point, you’ll start losing revenue.

But a great ERP makes everything run smoothly, centralizing your data, and updating it in real time.

With a sound ERP, your operations team can better understand to optimize their workflows and ensure that your data and company are fully integrated to their max potential. Your finance team will have access to reports that can uncover revenue-generation or cost-reduction opportunities, in addition to the real-time costs of goods and to the minute forecasting. Having a fully integrated ERP will also ensure that your IT team can be utilized to fully support the organization and users in a more efficient way.

Basically, the more integrated and automated an ERP is to your company, the more efficiently you can operate across the board.

What to consider when you’re shopping for an ERP

To reap all the benefits of an ERP, you must make your decision based on which ERP is the right fit for your day-to-day operations. Here are a few of the most critical things to consider during the procurement process:

  • Company size. The size of your organization plays a large part in selecting an ERP. For example, SAP and Oracle are tailored to large companies — like the Amazons of the world. Epicor, NetSuite or IFS on the other hand, are tailored for small to midsized companies, specifically in the manufacturing, Supply Chain or DOD industries. You can even look deeper into the specifics of each industry to find an ERP that can be tailored to exactly your business and how you want to run it.
  • On prem vs. cloud deployment. Cloud-based ERPs have the ability to give you real-time updates and data forecasts. There is a big transition happening in the ERP world to Cloud-based ERP systems.  The alternate option would be On-Prem databases that allow companies full control over their systems, data customizations, reports, and usability to see information specifically the way they choose. The choice depends on which would benefit your organization in the long term.
  • Specific functionality. When selecting the best ERP for your organization, be sure to research the functionality of the ERP and what is offered in relation to your respective industry. Some ERPs are built specifically to serve retail, manufacturing, and distribution companies. Another factor to think about is the ability to integrate 3rd party applications or Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM’s). Some ERP’s have built in CRM modules, but also the ability to integrate Salesforce or other CRM’s. On the same note, looking at integrations for barcoding, reporting, or even Service applications to make the user and customer experience much more streamlined.
  • Ability to bring in an implementation partner. Your IT team and leaders already have a lot on their plate, not even considering the fact that it’s important for them to have specifically been through a full implementation of the specific ERP you will be installing. One of the common misconceptions is that all ERP systems function the same, and that if you have been through one ERP implementation, you can implement another. It is extremely important from a cost and efficiency standpoint to bring in an expert to handle the implementation in each specific area. Some choose to use the ERP company to do the install, but keep in mind their team is only so big and you aren’t the only one choosing to install this ERP.

    There is also the route of ERP partner companies and niche recruitment firms. The ERP partners provide a higher level of efficiency but still manage multiple clients at once. The last option would be bringing in ERP specific contractors that would be dedicated to your implementation, could be onsite, and work with your user teams to allow specific customizations. This option would allow for you to oversee the specifics of the implementations on your schedule. Either option you decide, the most important piece is having someone that can learn the in’s and outs of your company to perform an efficient setup in that specific ERP system.

Staffing firms like Planet Technology can help companies source and recruit the right talent — not only to implement ERPs like Epicor, IFS, Infor, JD Edwards, NetSuite, and Workday, but also to train ERP users, run effective change management, and offer long-term support and upgrade help.

Write down these requirements on paper and score each platform immediately after your demos. This exercise will help you narrow down your list, and soon, one or two leaders will start to emerge. Companies also give free demos where you can ask specifics about each ERP and how it would be best utilized within your organization.

If you still can’t decide, consider reaching out to similar companies that have previously installed the ERP you’re looking at. Colleague reviews are always a good way to decipher how it would benefit your company specifically.

The Time is NOW

Choosing an ERP system is no light decision, but waiting to update or change your ERP could be even more costly financially, and for your business. If you are in the process of deciding to update, upgrade or implement a new ERP system, the price of waiting could be even more costly than a new implementation.

If you would like more information on a specific ERP, or find yourself in need of niche talent to implement an ERP or provide support to your existing environment, reach out to us at Planet Technology. We have experience placing Contract and Permanent professionals who’ve drastically transformed our clients’ ERP environments.

Photo Credit: Canva

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