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What to Look for When Shopping for ERP Add-Ons

By Joseph Timmins

ERP, or Enterprise Resource Planning, is mission critical business software for manufacturers and distributors. It’s deployed in both large and SME (small/ Medium sized) Enterprises as well. Most SME companies find they need to supplement their core ERP package with one, or multiple, Add On’s (see part 1 of this series giving you basic information for ERP Add On’s and why your company needs them). Once it is determined that Add On’s are needed, the following considerations will help:

Shop for an SSP (Software Solution Provider) 

Its best to find someone who “has been there…done that”. Many SSP’s have certified solutions which they deploy and support at multiple companies who run the same ERP you do. If you’re a true SME – it may not be wise to be a beta site. Leave that to others.

Involve your VAR (Value Added Reseller) 

Your partner, the people who know your ERP deployment should also know SSP solutions and can guide you in a selection process. More importantly, they should work with the SSP during selection and implementation. If a customer leaves out the VAR, this opens the possibility of finger pointing should the project have integration challenges.   A good VAR knows the ERP software, your business, your deployment and your people. Your VAR should also have your long-term interest in mind.

 

What is the integration? 

If the SSP has used an API or SDK that is part of your ERP, that’s good. Older systems lack these tools making integration trickier and more risky. A good integration will not compromise the core system  

What is the SSP’s footprint?

Ask how many deployments they have done. The more the better as each one provides an opportunity to smooth out their solution. You don’t want the SSP to be high on the learning curve at your expense

Transparent to upgrades 

Excellent Add On’s work well with core ERP’s and require little to no tweaking during ERP upgrades. We’ve seen too many clients who are on old versions of SW and are not re-cooping maintenance dollars because critical Add On’s don’t support the upgrade.

The usual suspects 

Like any other buying decision, ask for references, make sure quotes include all costs (product, services, and annual maintenance). Determine if the SSP has a support desk. What is the company history? And is the solution certified by the ERP provider. Ask how the solution will be implemented and the roles of the VAR and your internal people. Is there documentation, or videos? 

The less usual suspects 

Ask if the SSP solution has an active roadmap for product improvement (example: a cloud strategy). Also ask if the SSP has a methodology for deployment – including testing, conversion and user acceptance as part of the implementation

 

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