Choosing among the various ERP options can be a daunting task. With a large number of vendors and options, businesses need to be careful and choose the system that best suits them. The right ERP program can boost the organization’s productivity, lower operating costs and set the company on a path of growth.The plethora of options available need to be carefully assessed to decide on the most suitable system for their needs. The following are some key aspects to keep in mind when weighing your choices:
Have a specific, concrete list of requirement
The foremost task for businesses should be to list out their requirements of the ERP system. The enterprise should pinpoint the current challenges and issues it faces, and how it expects the ERP system to solve it.
The company should identify the specific business processes and key functions required. If the organization already has a system in place and is looking for a new system to match its needs, it should identify the key issues and problems of the current program and voice their concerns to the ERP vendors.
Optimally, companies should opt for ERP programs that address the industry specific needs. Having an extensive ERP system where the majority of the components are not used by the organization is a waste of organizational resources. The functionalities required by the business need to be specified in advance to target the most suitable ERP providers.
Technological requirements and Compatibility
The companies must consider options that are compatible with their business and resources at hand. It should note if the ERP program requires additional hardware, servers and IT related investments. If the company needs a system with their current technology it should opt for vendors that cater to their specific need.
For instance, the majority of small and mid-sized enterprises use computers that run on a Microsoft operating system, and frequently use Word, Excel, Access etc. for business purposes. For these companies, a .NET ERP program would be compatible with their current system and integrate well with the existing framework.
Cost of ERP and Payment Options
The company must consider the options that are within their budget. The cost of implementing the ERP is an important consideration. Some key questions would be whether the ERP deployment requires large upfront payment or investment or does the vendor offer a pay-as-you-go, monthly or yearly subscription option. Another issue to keep in mind if the cost of updating the ERP when the subscription runs out. Businesses should choose programs that are scalable and can be altered as needed to suit the needs of a growing business.
Accessibility and User-friendliness
Businesses must be clear on how much accessibility they want to allow their users. Typically onsite ERP systems are very restricted in nature and can only be accessed within the premises of the office. Cloud based systems allow users to access the data from any part of the world using their web browser. Businesses can choose between an onsite, cloud or a combination ERP system.
A key aspect to consider is the user friendliness of the ERP software. Would employees require extensive training to use the program or is the ERP system intuitive and easy to use? The cost of training employees and the additional time required must be considered. The highly competitive nature of the current business environment requires the company data be accessible by users through the computers, mobile devices and tablets. In order to maximize the benefits of ERP and increase productivity companies should choose a program that would be compatible with multiple devices and operating systems.
Implementation and Customization
The organization must consider how long a particular ERP system take to be successfully deployed and fully functional. The implementation process and the time frame must be considered. Onsite ERP programs take an average of 12 months to be implemented whereas cloud based programs take approximately 3 to 6 months. Typically, the greater the customization of the program, the longer the deployment period. Additionally a highly customized program costs more, not only initially but each time when the program is renewed and updated as well.
A highly customized system would address the need to the enterprise better but would require more time to tailor, implement and cost more. It would also take additional time whenever the program is renewed and updated as the customisation have to be re-done. The companies need to strike a balance between the additional benefits of a customized program and the greater costs and time lags associated with it.
Vendor reputation and Support
Often not discussed but an important matter nonetheless is the vendor’s reputation. Is the vendor known to deliver upon his promises and are former and current clients satisfied with the services provided? A business may ask for references to clients in the same industry to obtain feedback about the vendor’s product and services.
The services offered by the ERP provider are another important aspect to consider. The enterprise needs to evaluate the support system of the vendor and the promptness of the support staff in addressing and rectifying issues that may arise with the ERP program.
A business must carefully weigh all key aspects and optional before choosing an ERP solution. It must be ensured that the system needs the requirements of the enterprise and is well suited to the organizational objectives.