Top 10 Key Criteria When Selecting an ERP
It is already known that ERP solutions are mission critical systems for the company or organization. They support the organization’s core business processes and store very valuable information that will be key input for the management team when taking important decisions.
Like any software, ERPs have a limited lifespan and, on average, every 7 to 10 years the system will need a replacement. However, implementing a new ERP solution is a complex process that will require an initial investment, an external expert help from an implementer and a project that will take several months of work to fully complete the system configuration and customization according to business requirements. In addition, the new ERP software will also have a big impact on the organization, as users will have to learn how to use it to be productive in the shortest time possible.
Bearing all this in mind, it is clear that selecting the right ERP software is a strategic decision for the company that will have a huge impact on the business’ or organization’s performance. Below is a list of the 10 key criteria we recommend taking into account when choosing a new ERP solution.
1. Meet functional requirements. The first analysis to do is mapping the functional requirements with the system capabilities. When doing this exercise, it is important to distinguish must have from nice to have needs and prioritize them accordingly. ERP implementations are usually phased and it is recommended to focus on must have requirements in the initial phase, leaving more advanced or complex needs for later phases.
2. Platform flexibility and scalability. Although we might have a clear list of functional requirements that need to be addressed during the implementation, the reality is that some of the current organization’s needs probably won’t be fully covered with standard features or new needs will appear in the future. We need to be sure that it will be possible to address them. Software flexibility and scalability will remove possible limitations in the present and in the future.
3. Ease of use and intuitive user interface. Usability is a very important criterion that needs to be taken into account. In the end, the easier the system is to use, the greater return it will provide. Users need to be productive and self-sufficient when recording new transactions and searching for the information they need. This will even have an impact on customer service quality.
4. Innovative technology. As ERP systems have a long lifespan, it is important that their technology is innovative enough to not to become obsolete too early. Technology evolves very quickly and what can be enough today, might be a bottleneck in the future. Currently, cloud-ready solutions that can be accessed from anywhere and any device are a must.
5. Competitive pricing and flexible financing. The ERP implementation will be an investment that will provide a return. As with any investment, it is important that costs are properly distributed over time. If possible, it is advisable to avoid big upfront investments and go with a model that allows you to pay a similar amount every year.
6. Similar customer references. Certainly, your company or organization will not be the first one in your market segment willing to adopt specific ERP software. Another proof of having made the right selection is knowledge of other similar companies or organizations using the same solution.
7. Local implementer and support. Choosing the right software is important, but working with the right partner is key. In an ERP project, there are 3 elements that are equally important: product, implementer and company involvement. Make sure your implementer is experienced in both the business and technology areas and can provide local support when needed.
8. ERP vendor backup. An additional guarantee that the implementer will be able to provide the right support you need is having ERP vendor support. Working with an official vendor partner is essential. Ask for the SLAs the vendor has agreed with your implementer when receiving support.
9. Freedom to access source code. Once you are sure you will work with the right implementer and vendor, make sure you will have enough freedom to change them if needed. Being able to access the source code and using standard languages will be a guarantee of freedom in case you need to find another partner.
10. Compelling product roadmap. Finally, it is also advisable to look at the product roadmap for the coming years to check if the vendor’s vision is aligned with yours and your future business plans. Make sure the ERP software will also evolve from a technology perspective so that you can benefit from future innovations in this field in addition to new features.
If you have already gone through this process, we invite you to comment on this blog to find out how your experience has been.