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Evaluating ERP solutions: 9 Key considerations
If your organisation is considering a new ERP solution you don’t need us to tell you that there’s a vast range of options out there. So how do you choose the best system for your company? Implementing an ERP solution that is properly tailored and configured to meet the needs of your business will be a game-changer in respect of streamlining productivity, increasing visibility and providing the degree of flexibility and agility to give your organisation the edge over your competition.
When considering the right ERP for your business, the initial step is to determine your company’s particular needs and requirements. It’s critical to take the time to understand and document your business’s priorities and evaluate your existing set-up and processes. Our consultants can help you do this through our Business information Review (BIR). A BIR is a short, sharp exercise, conducted in partnership with all key stakeholders in a business. It considers where your business is now (the as-is), where you want to be in the future (the to-be) and how your ERP system can be an enabler to this end goal. The outcome is a high-level summary of the project, scope, benefits, risks, and outline costs. The whole process can be carried out in as little as 5 days and is a hugely valuable exercise.
Undertaking a BIR will make it possible to use this information to understand the pros and cons of different ERP solutions and how they stack up against one another. BIR aside, when considering the different ERP systems available, we have put together the following criteria against which you should evaluate each one.
Features and functionality
Firstly, consider whether the ERP solution you are considering has the modules and features your business needs. ERP software can do many things, but you need to ensure that the system you choose is optimised for the functionality you need. You want your ERP system’s features to complement your business, you absolutely do not want to have to adapt your business processes, practices, and infrastructure to align with what the ERP software is offering. By evaluating and shortlisting the options that are going to best serve your unique business requirements, you can be sure to find the solution that fits your business.
The next thing to consider is how well the ERP system integrates with the other software your business uses. One of the main benefits of ERP is the fact it can integrate all aspects of your business. That said, most businesses have other systems that need to remain in use and are they are perhaps not able to change multiple systems along with their ERP all at once
Also consider whether the ERP solution you are considering can read and use the existing data in other systems. Also look at what integration tools are on offer with the ERP solution? Can it support EDI to share data between companies for example?
All businesses grow; therefore, you need to think about what your business will look like in the long term and how your solution can scale with the changing needs and demands of your organisation. For instance, can it only support a maximum number of users? Will the system be capable handle the increasing amount of work it is expected to do and the wealth of data it must process to accommodate growth? This is critical to ensure your system will support your business as it develops over time.
When you’re considering how to select the right ERP software, you’ll also want to examine the ERP vendors reputation. Is the business renowned for quality and dependability? Does it have experience with your business’s specific industry? Spend time reviewing the vendors customer list and customer stores to learn more about their experiences with the solution to gain a real feel for how it could impact and benefit your business.
This includes the total cost of the system, including the implementation and any additional resources required. Be sure to consider cost vs. value. If the software contains a wealth of features you won’t use, its value for your organisation will be relatively low. It’s better to ensure you’re getting the most benefits and functionality for your investment. Be sure to uncover any "hidden costs" including any necessary hardware upgrades, software maintenance, and training, support, and maintenance post-implementation. Cost also includes the benefits you will receive from having a more efficient solution. Consider the projected cost savings you will enjoy by removing manual effort, increasing productivity, and gaining visibility. Consider these costs and benefits over time to calculate your return on investment.
The last couple of years, more than ever, have shown the importance of having access to data wherever you are, whenever you need it. A good ERP solution will deliver data to users in ways they can use it, regardless of where they are without delay or variation. Once again, make sure the ERP can deliver the mobility and flexibility you need to run your business.
- Implementation Process
Much of the success of an ERP solution hinges on how it is implemented. Achieving the set goals of any IFS implementation requires a robust methodology framework that everyone involved in the project is fully committed to delivering against. It ensures that there is no confusion and empowers each person to take ownership of their tasks and allows for the successful management of the implementation process.
- The Future
It is a given that whatever ERP you choose will require ongoing support. You’ll need to think about practical matters like the frequency of software upgrades, particularly if you are not on a Cloud deployment option and the challenges of integrating your ERP with any potential new hardware or software. As you’re assessing possible ERP options, ask questions about software upgrades and support services to ensure your system will serve you well for many years.
We are here to help you on your selection journey
At Cooper Software we are specialists in designing and implementing the global ERP solution, IFS. As an IFS Gold Channel Partner, we have the knowledge and expertise to help those of you who are looking to update your systems but are not quite sure of the type of solution you need, the different business processes that could benefit from being improved on, or the level of overall change you require. Our unique Business Information Review (or BIR) can help you to help navigate this path and our expert consultants have a wealth of experience developing industry-specific solutions that bring transformational benefits.
To find out more, please get in touch.