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5 Tips for Simplifying and Shortening Your ERP Search

CORP Blog 5 Tips for Simplifying and Shortening Your ERP Search LP Header 2021

The search for an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that is right for your business can be exhaustive and time-consuming. For SMBs, these are the tips we recommend implementing to streamline the process and eliminate wasted time and resources:

ERP search tip #1: Designate an internal ERP project manager

Assign someone in your organization with longevity and deep knowledge about the daily functioning of your business in each department. This point person should also have plenty of experience with your current ERP solution, the various software packages used in each department, and how they integrate, interact, and share data.

By assigning one expert to manage the selection process, facilitate discovery calls, and leverage everyone else's experience in the organization, the decision-maker's time investment will be minimized to only what is necessary. A single point person will expedite the process significantly if everyone trusts the ERP project manager.

Focus only on niche ERP systems

  • Niche ERP solutions' have specific industries in mind by design, so they integrate standard business functions such as accounting, sales, and customer relationship management with industry-specific functions such as quality management (in manufacturing) and ecommerce (in office supplies). They are relatively plug-and-play for most organizations within an industry, with few, if any, customizations required. Their capabilities align with specific job functions and facilitate particular business processes. They also enable SMBs to implement up-to-date best practices while integrating all business functions into one comprehensive solution. These benefits shorten the time to roll out.
  • The alternative, customizing a stock, generic ERP system, requires weeks of intensive consultations to determine if software modifications can result in an effective solution. The process is typically time-consuming, expensive, and can be fraught with costly miss-steps. Considering generic systems may also result in deciding not to purchase, putting your team back at square one.

ERP search tip #2: Eliminate vendors who offer no consultancy value

Niche ERP solution providers are experts in your industry and offer value as business consultants. When you have a question about specific software features or problems using system capabilities, your contacts can provide valuable expertise to help you get the most out of your investment. When your employees need help implementing new best practices, the vendor can provide it through in-person training or online resources. When you need to establish metrics and determine which KPIs to monitor on your dashboards, your contacts will have the expertise you need. When you have questions in the learning curve, and you will, your consultant will be there to answer your calls and provide answers.

There is no need to explain how certain features are used in your industry in this relationship because your contacts are likely successful industry veterans and experienced problem-solvers. In crunch time, having a partner who can work with you, an expert in your software and your industry, is one of the best benefits of a vertical-specific ERP solution.

ERP search tip #3: Cross off vendors with antiquated technologies

ERP software should be built on modern development languages and use standard, open databases such as Microsoft SQL Server to store information and a Windows interface. The software should be cloud-based, so eliminate premise-based solutions from contention. Cloud-based software comes with ongoing cybersecurity and software updates from the vendor, so your business does not have to retain IT personnel to perform software updates or monitor and protect against threats.

The software should also include a base package and additional modules to support your business needs as you grow. Modules should fully integrate with the ERP solution to offer one comprehensive system. Finally, the vendor should have a track record of regularly updating the software so that you know your company can rely on it for at least the next 15 years, rather than have to go through another exhaustive ERP search in that timeframe.

ERP search tip #4: Choose a vendor with a successful data conversion track record

Data conversion can be a difficult process, especially if you’re working with inexperienced personnel. Find out from each software vendor early on in the process that they have extensive experience migrating data and cleaning up any bad data. You don’t want to be the test case, helping a vendor work out the kinks in their data migration processes.

Ask for references in your industry and question them about their data conversion experience. Find out who you will be working with through the process and how the references would grade their skills. If those people have left the company, interview the new data conversion experts thoroughly to be sure you are comfortable with their proficiency levels.

These tips should be just what you need to shorten your decision cycle yet still arrive at the same selection you would have made in a longer, more costly process.

About the Author

ECI Staff Contributors love to share their insights and expertise on a variety of topics including sales, marketing, cloud, ERP, and SMB development as well as on product specific education. With offices throughout the United States, Mexico, England, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand, more than 40 employees contribute to blog on a regular basis.