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Are you thinking about investing in an ERP solution or switching ERP providers? Whether you’re purchasing an ERP for the first time or looking to change providers, choosing a new ERP solution is a big undertaking for any organisation. It takes time to find the solution that’s right for you and one that will provide a positive ROI.
Below are ten best practices that will help define your requirements, streamline your decision-making process, and pick the best ERP solution to grow your office equipment dealership:
1. Know your business requirements and document them
When shopping for an ERP, there will be some key differences between solutions. Depending on your organisation’s goals, some of these will be ‘nice to haves’ as opposed to ‘must haves.’ All stakeholders involved in the project should define and document their key business requirements and their objectives. Starting with a definitive list of features and functionality you need will help you create a working shortlist, eliminate solutions that don’t meet your needs.
2. Align your ERP providers’ competencies with your requirements
If you’re using generic business management tools or accounting packages like QuickBooks and Sage, there’s a good chance you’ve developed workarounds to make them work for you. Ensuring your ERP provider has experience in your industry and familiarity with your unique needs should be top priority in your discovery process. Are they familiar with operations that are similar to yours?
3. Ensure you have management and stakeholder buy-in
ERP solutions can be a hard sell to your internal team. To create enthusiasm for the project, you’ll need all levels of management on board. Keeping the lines of communication open, being transparent, and ensuring employees are involved in the change-over will ease the tensions that often comes with significant change like implementing an ERP solution.
4. Treat your ERP switch as a change-management project
One of the biggest mistakes organisations make when bringing in a new ERP solution—and a chief cause for failure of a new system—is not putting the necessary infrastructure in place before implementation. Your ERP will impact all areas of your business, from sales to finance to service, so be sure to allocate the appropriate time and resources necessary to successfully implement your solution.
5. Nominate a project sponsor
A body without a head doesn’t get very far. Your project sponsor is responsible for keeping all employees at all levels informed of the project’s progress and how it’s impacting the organisation. What changes can the team expect? What are the project milestones? When will the system be up and running? These are all questions your project sponsor should be able to answer.
6. Check your ERP providers’ training and support resources
Training and support are part of the day-to-day relationship you will have with your solution provider. Ensure they can provide the ongoing support you need to not only implement your ERP solution but stay up-to-date on the latest features and continually improve your processes. Ask about ongoing training, webinars, technical documentation, industry events, support staff, and account manager accessibility.
7. Don’t skimp when allocating internal resources
Having appropriate internal resources will help establish realistic ERP expectations, protect key business processes, mitigate chaos, and minimise project creep. No ERP is a ‘set it and forget it’ solution; it’s a critical business tool you use to manage all areas of your operation. For that reason, you need the right people in the right place to capitalise on the benefits of ERP and realise the best return on your investment.
8. Focus on data migration early in the process
An ERP solution runs on data and the more places you store critical business data, the more organised you need to be when looking to consolidate your systems. As a best practice, you should develop a data migration strategy outlining key data requirements, document your policy, and clearly communicate it to relevant stakeholders. You should include plans for how to handle open invoices, accounts payable, open purchase orders, and accounts receivable.
9. Find out what other customers think
Many ERP providers are quick to cite the features and benefits of their solution, but it’s better to go directly to the source. Ask ERP providers for customer case studies and testimonials to better understand the value they can offer. Customer success stories are a great way to see how ERP has benefited similar organisations and may even give you some ideas about how you can utilise the solution in your own business.
10. Determine your ROI
Some of the scariest statistics around ERP solutions have to do with ROI. Many businesses don’t fully realise the benefits and cost savings of their system due to unclear expectations early in the purchasing process. Calculate what your total costs would be for each ERP provider and what business benefits you can expect. This not only helps you grasp the big picture but also provides the information your senior leadership team needs to facilitate the approval process.
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