How To Successfully Select An ERP System in Eight Easy Steps
What is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system?
It is a series of software applications or modules that collects data from your sales, purchasing, finance, inventory, supply chain, manufacturing and quality functions into a common database so that your company can share the information, coordinate activities and collaborate.
Are you looking for your first ERP system or looking to upgrade from an existing system?
The evaluation, selection and implementation process is a long-term strategic decision for your organization. This article will help guide you through the process.
These are the eight easy steps to successful select the best ERP system for your organization:
Step 1: Evaluation
Form an evaluation committee that includes top management, functional experts that I call SME (Subject Matter Expert) from each department within your company. Consider hiring us to assist. Throughout the selection process, end each step with a consensus of all members to gain enterprise-wide acceptance of the decided upon ERP system.
Step 2: Make An Assessment
Assess your existing business processes and the scale of your operation, so you can determine what’s being done well. Identify gaps, duplicate work, inefficiencies and key challenges that could be solved by implementing an ERP system.
Step 3: Establish Criteria
Based on that assessment, Develop criteria to evaluate available ERP solutions. Criteria could include required functionality based on findings from the assessment step. This could include specific features that could related to your unique business processes, desire a platform that integrates easily with your existing customer’s data or systems, available budget (Cost) or anything else your committee can think of. Group the criteria according to importance to your business, i.e. very important, important, and less important. Assign a score to each to make the evaluation easier.
Here are some example criteria:
Industry Expertise: How well does the ERP vendor understand your industry? Does the vendor offer industry best practices or pre-defined processes that are generalized or horizontally focused? ERP solutions should at the very least address your mission critical business requirements specific to your industry.
Total Cost of Ownership. Determine the long-term TCO for hardware, software, and support—pre- and post-implementation.
Customization without consequences: If you need to modify the ERP system for it to match your business processes, ensure your ERP vendor provides a platform or customization layer that doesn’t prevent you from upgrading from one version to another with out more out of pocket expense. Does your ERP vendor’s architecture punish you due to customizing the software to match your business processes?
Multi-Site Operations Support. If you need to collaborate with multiple operations then ensure your ERP vendor can support multi-site operations. Can your ERP vendor support all your locations with a small centralized IT staff? Do they require complicated architectures?
Customer Support. Does the ERP vendor have its own in-house support or does it outsource? You’ll gain the most out of your investment if you have access to a customer care center that can answer your key application and technical questions, solve your complex technical or software related issues, and advise on best industry practices.
Step 4: Schedule Consultations
Arrange a 10-minute phone consultation with both a sales representative and product expert from as many different ERP vendors as possible. This “discovery call” will provide you with better insight on the vendor and its solution than if you were to rely solely on brochures and sales literature.
Step 5: Create a Shortlist
Shortlist three to five ERP solutions that best meet your business needs. Your discovery calls will help you eliminate the solutions which are poor fits.
Step 6: Make Contact
Contact the vendors of your shortlisted ERP systems to arrange presentations and product demonstrations.
Step 7: Prepare Questions That Address Your Concerns
How each vendor responds will help you determine the best fit for your company.
Step 8: Check Vendor References
Visit and consult companies where the ERP system has been implemented. Find out if the system is working as expected, and what the company likes or dislikes. If there were issues, then determine how the vendor resolved them.
If your company followed these 8 steps, your evaluation committee will be able to select an ERP solution based on how well it met your selection criteria, how it performed during the demonstration, and how the references checked out.
Finally, with your selected ERP vendor, spend the time to scope the entire project, from start to finish. Work with your ERP vendor to map your critical milestones and chart your course to success.
Why choose Ludwig Solutions to help you select your next ERP?
Ludwig Solutions drives business growth. We provide flexible, industry-specific knowledge to assist you with selecting and implementing the best ERP product to make your business processes more efficient and give your executive team the tools to make proactive decisions. Giving you the tools to become the leader in your industry. While following these 8 steps, we’ve found recommending Epicor ERP E10 has benefited the majority of our customers. Epicor ERP E10 is designed for manufacturing, distribution, retail, and service industry customers. The Epicor product has more than 40 years of experience. Our customers’ unique business processes and operational requirements is built into every solution we implement. With a deep understanding of your industry, Ludwig Solutions spur growth while managing complexity. The result is a powerful solution that frees up resources allowing your business to become more profitable.