4 Things to Consider When Evaluating ERP Software Options

An ERP software solution promises a lot. Data created once, accessible from everywhere. Everyone on the same page, never mind that the sales force never goes near the factory floor.

Visions of a homogeneous IT structure, where department software systems don’t give each other the cold shoulder. It all sounds great, but successfully implementing an ERP software system is quite an undertaking. Here are several points to consider:

1. Noggin Out of the Clouds, Please

For all the promise of an ERP system, you must be fully aware of the risks — for instance, botching the implementation or choosing the wrong the vendor. An organization can lose big money and tarnish its reputation when an ERP software implementation goes awry.

Forbes details several firms that have suffered from bumpy implementations. Several years ago, for example, Hershey missed out on Halloween to the tune of $100 million and an 8 percent drop in stock value. Nike lost $100 million in sales, faced class-action lawsuits and watched their stock plummet 20 percent because of an ERP software glitch. Yikes!

The point is you should do your homework before selecting an ERP software solution and creating an implementation strategy. Start by looking at which ERP software packages have a good track record within your industry. You simply cannot buy ERP software off the shelf and cram your business model into it.

2. All Hands on Deck

Choosing an ERP software solution needs to be a joint effort. ERP solutions and business processes go hand in hand. That’s why it’s so important to have top management’s involvement from the get-go. Buy-in from management is also important because some business processes might need to change as the ERP system is implemented.

3. Don’t Forget Your Techies

While an organization’s business model and business processes might drive the ERP software search, don’t let anyone forget that a system of this magnitude doesn’t install and run all by itself. For example, without input from high-level technology employees, management could choose a cloud-based ERP software package while IT is undergoing a hardware upgrade that’s incompatible with the ERP software selected. Implementation of such a complex software system has little chance of success if the company’s ERP experts aren’t consulted early and often.

4. Hired Gun, Anyone?

Let’s face it: All ERP software companies claim that their product will save you stacks of cash in operating costs. You know your business well, but it can be hard to know which ERP software really fits your needs. Consider hiring a third party that specializes in matching an organization with the best ERP solution. These unbiased professionals know the strengths and weaknesses of each ERP software package and can give you important information about which one best fits your business. As an added bonus, they have the industry knowledge to help bargain for a favorable contract.

Implementing an ERP system is quite an undertaking, but the benefits to your company can be huge. By taking time to define your needs and include the right people, you can find the ERP software solution that’s right for you.

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