Considering the important investment required to implement an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, the process of selecting the right vendor is not a decision to be made lightly. ERP software is a solution that touches on almost every aspect of a business, from HR to Sales to Distribution, and everywhere in between. Knowing exactly what you need and what you don’t can be challenging and often times overwhelming. Below, we’ll dive into some of the things to look for when selecting an ERP vendor and their software solution.
First and foremost, you need to be prepared for the level of IT sophistication your company will need to possess in order to onboard an ERP solution. Do you have the in-house IT resource to help with installation and maintenance of your software system? If not, it might be wise to consider if an ERP vendor offers a deployment different from the traditional on-premise solution, such as a cloud (hosted) or mixed deployment. A cloud-based enterprise resource planning solution won’t require the hefty IT requirements to maintain the system since it will be housed on a private, secure cloud server. In the initial stages of the selection process, you’ll want to ask the vendor what kind of deployment offerings they have available, and which one might be the right fit for your company’s unique needs.
Is the software continuously being supported? Are there new upgrades and features being released on a regular basis? If not, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. The last thing you want to happen is to end up stuck with an expensive, outdated ERP system that’s not being supported by the vendor and has no new features or upgrades available. Instead, you’ll need to find a fully-supported solution with a vendor who knows what they’re talking about, has the proof to back it up, and will be sticking with the system for the long-haul.
Let’s make this very clear: choosing the right vendor is just as important as choosing the right software solution. While it may seem like the software is the only major consideration, the vendor can make the difference between a successfully-executed deployment and a failed one. Your vendor will be the team helping with the implementation and overall management of the system, as well as the ongoing support you’ll need down the road. Don’t just focus on the cost of the software if it’s extremely cheap compared to competitors, it might mean they don’t have the customer service or support team to back it up as your business grows and your needs and demands change over time.
At the end of the day, you need to invest in the software package that has all of the features you’re looking for. From HR and accounting to materials, production, and supply chain, there’s a breadth of product features you and your team need to choose as your must-haves. Keep in mind: there’s a pretty strong chance you’re not going to find a system with every single feature you’re looking for. And that’s OK. Make a note of the features you absolutely need to have, and the ones you’d love to have if possible. This will make choosing an ERP system easier for you and everyone on the selection committee when you’re sorting through RFP after RFP.