How do you know you picked the right ERP solution?

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The right ERP solution has the power to transform your business and drive tremendous efficiency and growth. But an ERP deployment also carries tremendous risk. We’ve all read horror stories about failed implementations or implementations that stretch far beyond budget and schedule.

How do you know you picked the right ERP solution?
How do you know you picked the right ERP solution?

 

Evaluating a new ERP system may be one of the most complex technology decisions you’ll ever make. Because ERP touches virtually every aspect of your business, the deployment typically involves lots of people, including your internal teams, executive boards, and even outside consultants. When you have their final recommendation in front of you, how do you validate that recommendation to be sure it’s the right choice?

Western Computer has deployed hundreds of ERP solutions. In working with our customers through the selection and planning process, we’ve identified a few key areas that can help you validate your decision, allowing you to proceed with confidence.

Technology

Foremost, the ERP solution must provide the functionality required by your business. The technical capabilities of the software—or lack thereof—should not force you to compromise on your business requirements. Ensure that the solution will meet the needs of each of the departments you intend to address. Shortcomings in one or more functional areas can interfere with adoption. And can lead to process bottlenecks that diminish the benefits of the project.

Your scrutiny of the technology should extend beyond the core ERP functionality, to the underlying platform. ERP typically requires integration with other infrastructure and core systems; these integrations can be one of the most costly and time-consuming aspects of the deployment. It’s important to easily connect business systems and share data seamlessly across applications. To avoid costly delays or expensive workarounds, ensure that your ERP solution plays well with your other business applications and allows you to maintain a harmonized IT environment.

Finally, you should have confidence in the software vendor(s) you’ll be depending on for the solution. Can the vendor support your business needs as a whole? Will the software vendor be there to support you for the life of the solution? Be sure the vendor has tenure in the industry—and committed to the ERP market.

Resources

An enterprise ERP deployment represent significant time and resources. Even with the support of your deployment partner, you’ll need to commit internal resources including process experts, analysts, power users, and business managers. You’ll depend on your staff to assess processes and functional implementation, make hard choices when necessary, and eventually to validate the deployment.

Work with your deployment partner during the planning stages to assess the exact requirements of your selected ERP. If you can’t spare—or don’t have—adequate internal resources to support the deployment, you may need to reevaluate the solution or the timing.

Lastly, your resources will need to take an active part in the deployment. This includes validating designs and testing your business processes with new solution before going live.  There is a needed commitment for ensuring you have resources to take ownership of the ERP solution to run your business.  Involving them during the implementation is key to the success of maintaining the solution after your partner has completed the deployment.

Budget

Enterprise ERP can represent an extremely expensive IT investment. Beyond the upfront costs of the initial deployment, total costs of ownership include on-going maintenance, licensing, and support and training. In future years, additional budget may be required to upgrade, expand, or modify the original solution to support additional users, new offices, and additional facets of your business.

Work with your deployment partner to forecast costs over the entire software lifecycle. Especially with the advent of cloud computing, ERP vendors offer a wide range of licensing/subscription models and hardware requirements, and TCO can vary dramatically. Your deployment partner can help you ensure that your chosen solution fits your current budget. As well as provide predictable cost forecasting for budgeting of out-year expenses.

Expertise of Implementation Team

Selecting the right deployment partner can be as important as selecting the right ERP software. Your partner will play a critical role in the success of your deployment. And they will ideally support your success over the long term. Does your partner have experience have experience and references? Are they large enough to field a stable, consistent team over the life of your solution? Do your internal resources work well and communicate well with the partner team? Our article on Selecting the Right ERP Partner provides guidance to help you the right fit for your organization.

The Big Picture

The resources or consultants you engage to assist in selecting an ERP solution are frequently tasked with evaluating specific aspects of the solution. They may focus narrowly on specific business requirements, their own functional areas, or areas of influence, such as budget or technology. It may fall on you, as the final decision maker to synthesize their input and look at the high-level considerations to validate their recommendation.

With nearly 30 years and hundreds of successful ERP deployments to our credit, Western Computer can help you step back and look at the larger picture, so you can commit to a solution with confidence. Contact us today.

 

by Western Computer

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