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9 Tips to Quickly Identify Your ERP Solution Faster

Like your business, technology continues to evolve, bringing with it new opportunities for improved business operations and streamlined business processes. Today’s ERP capabilities, such as collaboration and responsiveness, improved customer, supplier and vendor relationships, mobility for easy access to key information, powerful dashboards with data for proactive decisions, and more, are helping businesses stay more competitive than ever before.

Options for ERP deployment continue to evolve as well. In recent years there’s been an influx of newly introduced cloud-based solutions including hybrid solutions that allow for greater flexibility and choices with deployment options for on-premise, cloud or both. At the same time, many traditional on-premise software vendors are offering cloud solutions that offer smaller businesses an opportunity to have a more robust solution with many of the bells and whistles of the big guys at a much lower cost.

As a result, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. Tier I, Tier II, Tier III, On-Premise, SaaS, Hybrid technology platforms and more. You’re not alone. Where do you begin?

This will be a two part blog series explaining the internal processes needed to help you confidently and efficiently choose the best ERP solution for your business. “9 Tips to Quickly Identify Your ERP Solution” outlines the initial planning and preparation required to provide your Project Team with insights to keep them focused throughout the selection process.

“9 Tips to Quickly Identify Your ERP Solution – Part 2” will focus on the final steps of your vendor evaluations – creating your short list, staying on top of and in control of the demonstration process and getting the most from your reference checks. By following these steps, you will shorten the final phase of selecting your ERP solution, your demonstration cycle, while being able to identify the best solutions for you business with clarity. With proper planning your Project Team should have the necessary information and insight to confidently make a recommendation based on knowledge, not emotions.

Tip: With proper planning your Project Team should make a recommendation based on knowledge, not emotions.

1) Be Organized: Organization is the Key to Success

Selecting a new ERP solution is a huge project that takes a lot of planning an organization, and as obvious as this sounds, not all ERP projects are well organized from the beginning.

You know your business best, and taking the time up front to identify a Project Team with a team lead with team members to steer your project will save you time during both the selection and implementation process. If you don’t have the right mix of internal resources to head up your project, then an outside Value Added Reseller (VAR) or consultant should be engaged.

Tip: Identify an ERP Project Team upfront to save valuable time later.

Businesses that allocate resources to keep their project running smoothly by incorporating discipline and best practices in identifying an ERP solution will:

  • Save valuable resources by speeding up the decision process without sacrificing knowledge.
  • Have a much clearer understanding of the requirements, goals and objectives of the organization as a whole.
  • Be empowered and in control throughout the selection an implementation process.
  • Be better able to stay focused and more quickly identify their short list without getting sidetracked or wow’d by fancy sales demonstrations.
  • Experience shorter implementation cycles and be up and running faster.

2) Get Upper Management Buy-In

There are many reasons companies look to a new ERP solution. The search process can start anywhere within your organization, but in the end, it’s upper management’s buy-in that you need for both budget allocation and gaining an understanding of the needs of the entire enterprise.

Without executive level involvement the purchasing decision gets delayed, sometimes indefinitely. Upper management does not need to know the minute details of the project, but they do need to understand and support the overall scope and goals as well as be kept informed of any delays.

3) Understand Enterprise-Wide Requirements, Goals and Objectives

For your project to be managed efficiently and to be a success, you need to understand which features and functionality are most important to all areas within your organization. Start the process early.

Ask your C-Level, department managers, IT and anyone else who interfaces with your current ERP system about their likes and dislikes and what their ideal ERP solution would look like and put together a Requirements Document. Gathering and prioritizing key requirements, goals and objectives from the start will keep your project on track, saving you time later.

Tip: Gather and prioritize key requirements, goals and objectives early to keep your ERP project on track.

MIS has been helping organizations of all sizes identify and implement accounting and ERP systems for almost three decades, and based on our experience, most decisions to switch ERP systems are based around:

  • Outgrowing of current ERP solution capabilities.
  • Scalability and flexibility in supporting business changes.
  • Changed business goals or direction.
  • Perceived benefits of new technology or functionality such as speed, collaboration, responsiveness, mobility, SaaS, or better access to data for improved decision making.
  • Integration requirements.
  • Wanting to streamline business processes for increased efficiencies and cost reductions.
  • Outdated technology that is difficult and expensive to support.
  • Current ERP solution being obsolete or no longer supported.
  • Current ERP solution that is too expensive to maintain and wanting a ERP solution with a Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

4) Understand Your In-House Resources and Expertise

Know your resources. What in-house resources do you have available to dedicate to this project? Do you have IT personnel with the type of expertise needed to support and maintain a new ERP solution? Or, do you need to hire a consultant each time a maintenance release becomes available or a report or dashboard needs to be modified? In house expertise, or lack of, will affect your overall budget and narrow down your choices as well.

Tip: In house expertise, or lack of, will affect your overall budget.

5) Know Your Budget and Its Components

Deploying an ERP solution is expensive from both a dollar and a resource perspective. Knowing your overall budget will save you time as solutions are targeted to organizations of all sizes. It is important that you understand your budget, both from a purchasing and maintenance perspective as this can vary greatly from system to system, as follows:

  • Hardware and Hardware Upgrades
  • Software and User License Fees
  • Maintenance and Support Contracts
  • Project Management, IT Staff and/or Third Party Consultant
  • Implementation
  • Data Migration
  • Customizations
  • Third Party Integrations
  • Training, including refresher and new employee training

If your budget is limited, but you want all the bells and whistles that come with the latest technologies, or if you don’t have the in house IT resources to adequately support a new ERP solution, you may want to consider a SaaS ERP solution rather than on-premise. A SaaS ERP solution can be likened to renting a home rather than purchasing it. With a SaaS agreement, the ERP vendor provides you with monthly access to the software and handles all of your software and hardware upgrades. A SaaS ERP solution often has its limitations, but can be simpler and more cost effective, especially for smaller businesses.

The second half of this blog, “9 Tips to Quickly Identify Your ERP Solution – Part 2,” will focus on best practices to help you identify your short list, be in control of your demonstration process and get the most from reference checks. The ultimate goal again, is for your Project Team to be able to make the best recommendations for your business based on knowledge, not emotions.

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Karen Beaulieu

Karen Beaulieu has worked in the ERP software industry for over 15 years. Having worked in a variety of roles from product development, channel and direct sales to marketing, Karen has a unique understanding and perspective of the ERP software industry. Currently Karen works in a marketing capacity for MIS Consulting & Sales and MIS Solutions Canada, ULC.

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