Finding the right ERP system for your business might seem like trying to find your way in the fog. There are endless varieties of ERP systems in what feels like even more configurations. It’s dizzying, complex and a giant headache. Yet, for all the pain, the payoff can be huge for your company.
Additionally, it’s not a good idea to “wing it” and create a team to demo every (which itself would be next to impossible) ERP product without a clear understanding of what your business needs are to move the needle and impact the bottom line.
So instead of wasting time in endless meetings where no action is being taken, here is a no-nonsense guide to what conducting an ERP comparison for your company means.
WHAT’S AT STAKE WITH AN ERP SELECTION PROCESS?
In short, everything.
That’s not an overstatement. It shouldn’t be a surprise ERP implementations have the dubious reputation of failing and leaving a wake of disaster in their trail. Most executives can recall stories from friends or colleagues that understandably put people on edge about decisions and cause the project to slow down. While methodical and thoughtful progression is a good thing, slowing down too much can start to negatively impact and ERP implementation.
To better understand what is at risk, part of your ERP comparison time should include a list of things you are putting on the line by implementing or changing systems. A few of those items could be:
Jobs, growth, downtime, training/development or profits.
All that said, with risk comes reward. When you understand what is at stake, you also understand the potential for complete transformation. When successful, you unlock incredible potential for your company.
WHAT DOES AN ERP COMPARISON MEAN FOR ME?
An ERP comparison means you need to dedicate time to evaluating systems that perform the functions that are critical to your business. This is typically in the early to mid-stages of your ERP implementation process. During this period of your project, here are a few details you need to nail down before you can perform a meaningful comparison:
YOU MUST UNDERSTAND WHERE YOUR BUSINESS IS AND WHERE IT IS GOING
One classic mistake executives make when comparing ERP software is they only consider where their business is now to find a right fit. The problem is that a business now doesn’t look like the same place 2, 5, 10 years down the road. As an executive, you’ll likely have a plan or a sense what the strategic vision of the company is so factor this into the ERP equation early on.
DETERMINE WHAT YOU WANT TO GET OUT OF A CENTRALIZED SOFTWARE PLATFORM FOR YOUR COMPANY
ERP products offer a fantastic array of features, extensions, modifications and flexibility. It can get overwhelming if you don’t consider what you want to get from an ERP system. Once you drill into the features that are core to your business needs, then comparing ERP products becomes a much more manageable task.
METRICS THAT WILL DETERMINE YOUR SUCCESS
Success can take many forms for a company. With executive responsibility, they usually all tie into the bottom line. What ERP comparison can do is help you find what metrics relate and how those configure into dashboard reporting to get up-to-the-minute feedback on an organization’s overall effort.
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
Without a meaningful comparison of ERP products, you’re putting your organization down a path that is filled with exponentially more risk. The more you can mitigate and navigate around risk, the more likely you’ll see faster success.The worst case scenario is buying the first ERP system that sounds like it hits all points (believe it or not, that’s happened) in favor of getting the ball moving. On the opposite, but equally bad scenario, is demoing a smorgasbord of software and going with a gut feeling. The problem there is you aren’t comparing the pros and cons, you’re going with first impressions that can be heavily influenced by the skills (or lack-thereof) by a salesperson. You basically might end up missing the right fit for your company.
When you take the time to sit down and compare products, you begin to refine what an ERP needs to have and what features you truly care about.