Investing in an ERP solutions serves as the first step in growing your business. However, finding which product to buy overwhelms many. The choices appear endless and choosing the right product becomes critical. By taking certain steps, businesses find they can overcome this challenge and choose the right product for their unique needs. To do so, business management first needs to determine what they require in an ERP.
What are they trying to accomplish with the purchase, and how do they want it to make life easier for the staff? This provides clues as to what functions are needed in the ERP for the best return on investment. With this information, a business finds they can begin researching NetSuite and other available products to discover the one that helps them achieve the stated goals.
What functions might appear in an ERP? Financial management remains a priority for many when selecting a program of this type. However, others find they need a program that assists with human resources tasks or capital management. Inventory management and purchasing features help many who use a program of this type, while other companies find features related to supply chain management benefit them the most. Customer relationship management simplifies when a company uses an ERP as does business intelligence and reporting.
Companies rarely require all of these features. What an organization needs depends on the type of business they run. For instance, many ERPs focus on features necessary for manufacturing or distribution. However, other solutions now focus on a particular industry and contain the features most commonly used in that sector. For this reason, every company must conduct thorough research to find a product that will provide them with the most benefit. This involves determining what the company requires before the search for an ERP even begins. How can one go about obtaining this information?
When conducting research to determine which features, they require in an ERP, a company needs to speak to individuals in every department that will make use of the program. This includes accounting, human resources, shipping, sales, and more. They know best what they need in their department and which features will make their tasks easier. Learn what will allow them to work more efficiently, what problems they see with the current workflow, and what features may help them as the business grows. They are the ones who will use the program daily, so they must embrace it. A failure on their part to do so leads to wasted money for the company, so always get their input before proceeding.
Another way to determine which features will provide the most benefit is to carry out a transaction from start to finish. The steps involved in this transaction vary by the company, but this process provides a great deal of information about what it is working and where they need to make changes. When the ERP is being purchased to improve in the area of human capital management, carry out similar research. Create a fictional employee and take them through their journey with the company. This identifies any issues with the finding and assessing of candidates, time management, scheduling, and more.
Companies looking into ERPs to improve their financial management tasks need to assess what the program offers. Will it help with accounting and closing, or does it focus solely on cash flow management? The goal must be to find a program that provides the features needed to keep the business profitable. Once this information has been gathered, it’s time to set a budget for the purchase.
Companies must take into account more than up-front costs, yet many businesses don’t do this. The ERP system serves as an investment in the organization, with the goal being to get a high return on investment when they implement the solution and employees use it properly. Don’t make the mistake of focusing solely on the purchase price either. Other costs may come into play when purchasing and implementing the program.
Any business looking at on-premise ERP solutions will need to factor in the hardware’s cost to run the program. In addition, calculate the estimated ongoing maintenance costs. Determine if you must purchase additional servers or networking equipment to run the ERP. Hardware serves as only one element of the equation, however. The company needs to examine the utilities to ensure they provide the power needed to run the desired ERP, and whether they must hire more people to implement and maintain the hardware. Space becomes a consideration along with the potential need for outside services to implement the program and keep it up running.
Cloud-based solutions eliminate the need to answer these questions, but they come with their own concerns. They require a reliable internet connection and ample bandwidth to allow multiple users to work with the ERP simultaneously. In addition, certain factors come into play regardless of whether the company uses an on-premise or cloud-based solution.
Training, customization, and data migration are concerns with either solution, and take into account productivity when you deploy the program. Expect it to decrease at first, as staff members must roll out the new system. Know when they will deploy the program and recognize implementations don’t happen overnight. In fact, some programs take years before they are fully implemented. This depends on many factors.
The time needed for deployment depends in part on the business size, the amount of legacy data being transferred to the ERP, and any plans for customization. Consider implementation as a marathon rather than a sprint. Take the time to ensure everything is in place and has undergone rigorous testing before the program goes live. Don’t make the same mistake other companies have.
They implemented the program before it was ready, which led to a disruption in operations. In fact, one company found it wasn’t able to process orders totaling $100 million. The product was on hand, but they couldn’t fulfill the orders when they were at their busiest.
Never fast track the selection and implementation of an ERP. Expect problems and prepare for them as much as possible. Doing so ensures you have a smooth transition and a program that will benefit your business for years to come.