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Part 3: ERP Evaluations – Review Solutions

By Joseph Timmins

Selecting a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution may seem daunting. But that’s not an uncommon perception.  On the upside, a new ERP can transform your company.  Selecting the right solution then successfully implementing will yield multiple benefits: 

  • integration
  • collaborative work
  • operational efficiencies
  • improved customer experience,
  • reduced complexities,
  • analytical insights that help you get control of your business

In this ERP evaluations series, we provide insights on ERP selection for your business. To read the last blog, please visit this link ERP Evaluations – Start with your Needs Analysis. This week we focus on reviewing solutions and criteria you should consider.  And - we’ll leave you with a TIP for making your ERP selection, a one-time event! 

 

To help you through this ERP selection process, here are some considerations.

  • Evaluation and assessment – As we shared in the last blog post, we recommend you start with a needs analysis. Get the support of your senior executive leadership members together and get conversations going about ERP at your company. What are the challenges you are facing? What do you hope to gain from the implementation and what criteria will you use to choose a partner (VAR – “Value Added Reseller”)?  Look critically at your business to determine the “vital few” improvement requirements that will revolutionize your company (example: EDI integration, Ecommerce platform, mobile enabled)
  • Establish Criteria/ Plan – Develop standard criteria to use when you're evaluating VARs, software partners and their ERP solutions.  Remember again to segregate the vital few. These criteria can include the reputation of the software company, features which are unique to your business, rough cost, technology platform, and anything else essential to the evaluation.
  • Schedule Consultations and High-Level Demos – One of the best ways to evaluate the quality of your VAR is to schedule demos.  This allows for meaningful questions to get a sense of “Fit” for your business. “Fit” pertains to both the product and the people who deliver it.  A knowledgeable consultant will use the demo to address your pain, not to showcase features that every package handles.   Remember, demos are not training sessions.  Ask the consultant to explain the difference and how they will enable your people to be self-sufficient.
  • Create a Shortlist – Once you are done with the list, narrow your list down to a few candidates. You should ensure that the VAR is knowledgeable in your industry, has a good track record, including certifications, and will be able to deliver.
  • Check References – Talk to other companies that have implemented Enterprise Resource Planning systems from the VAR you're considering.  Don’t expect perfection.  Implementing a system is complicated and takes time.  But if the VAR has proven to be steady and dependable that’s highly positive. 

So the selection process for an ERP and determination of your criteria have several aspects.  Go into your evaluation with an open mind and a broad perspective.  Here’s that TIP: Ask for a product Roadmap to the ERP solution you are evaluating.  No matter what the package, you’ll pay annual maintenance dollar.  The best ERP companies (SAP being the strongest example) truly provide value for this investment.  In the case of SAP Business One, our customers have benefitted from product improvements that have kept them going well past the initial purchase.  In short, the software company has published and committed to a Product Roadmap.  This shows planned improvements by year.  Because these improvements are so good, upgrading to the newest version which clients pay for with maintenance dollars, eliminates the need for an ERP replacement as needs change.

The selection process for your organization may vary. However, we hope that the above-mentioned key practices will make the entire process well thought out, well planned and highly successful. 

Ready to make the investment in your companies’ future? For further assistance, reach out to Acuity Consulting Group.

 

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