There are many ERP solutions. Selecting the right ERP solution is a difficult task to say the least, but not as difficult as getting users to adopt a new solution. Every business is different, and the needs, desires and available resources of each organization vary greatly. That said, there are some common pieces of advice that apply across a wide swath of different industries, markets and structures. Consider these three elements as you begin the process of selecting a partner and choosing the best ERP software for your unique circumstances:
1. Find the right level of staff involvement
Having just a few executives or high-level managers participate in the investigatory and selection processes for new ERP solutions can create a serious disconnect between perceptions and the specific needs of staff members who will use the software on a daily basis. Conversely, involving too many frontline employees in this ERP search and discovery effort will render efficient progress and effective decision-making difficult if not functionally impossible.
Businesses need to find a balance between involving users at all levels in discussions, recognizing their needs, and maintaining a selective committee for making serious decisions related to ERP. In an interview with Forrest Burnson, a researcher at tech publication Software Advice, Manufacturing Business Technology magazine relayed some important advice: It’s critical to identify heavy future users of potential solutions and include them in a group, along with department heads and IT staff. This approach manages the need to keep the selection group at a manageable size and include the opinions of a variety of users.
2. Understand the services and support a partner can provide
There are some significant similarities between ERP solutions if used without any customization or expansion. While the base features of ERP are critical to effective business management, the real value of the software platform comes from the ways in which it can be customized and integrated with existing solutions and systems. Research into what partners can provide is just as critical as understanding the readily available backbone of the software. A partner that can successfully offer these two aspects of ERP solutions has a high likelihood of providing beneficial returns.
A strong ERP partner can often point to similarities of some kind in previous work, whether it’s in terms of working with other businesses of a similar size or industry or developing or implementing an add-on or interface similar to the one needed by your organization. Be willing to consider a partner with a deep body of work, even if they don’t have previous direct experience – especially if your company is in an especially small or niche industry – but beware of those that can’t offer examples of any similar or related projects, even when separated by a few degrees.
It’s also imperative to consider the support a partner will provide before, during and after the implementation process. Without a dedicated, responsive and knowledgeable partner available to help businesses work through unforeseen issues, an ERP solution simply can’t perform to its best ability.
3. Look ahead and go beyond automation
Automating processes is a major driver of ROI provided by ERP, but it’s not the only consideration businesses should make. As ERP Search pointed out, it’s not enough to just look for ways to automate current tasks and functions. Instead, businesses should consider how these processes could combine or change, and even which ones could be eliminated. Implementing ERP is a time of great change for many businesses, and it provides a chance to remove things that may be unwieldy or inefficient – even if not directly related to ERP concerns.