How to do an ERP Comparison

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software has proven to be a viable implementation for any company seeking to integrate clear visibility and real-time information sharing across multiple platforms. The challenge in selecting the right ERP platform is found in the ERP comparison – how do you effectively implement the solution you need to solve the problems that currently exist? The first step in your ERP comparison is to define the problems that need to be addressed.

What Problems Do You Hope to Tackle with Your ERP Comparison?

As you begin your process of identifying problems that need to be addressed, you need to involve key people in your ERP comparison. ERP systems aim to integrate your management, equipment, staff and business systems into a coherent whole, enabling you to manage inventory, accounting processes, warehouse management and manufacturing on a single platform. Invite key players from each of these divisions to serve on your committee to identify needs. You may not know that your inventory managers need information updated in real-time from the accounting department and that spreadsheets are getting cumbersome. Getting these individuals involved and asking questions is an important step.

Your Needs are Identified in the ERP Comparison – Now What?

Now that you have identified those problems that your ERP comparison will aim to solve, what happens next? At this point, it’s time to discuss your delivery options. Do you want to implement a full ERP system in-house, migrate your operations to the cloud or leverage a hybrid system that allows you to do both?

Knowing the answer to this question will provide you with the information you need to complete your ERP comparison. If your IT team cannot handle sending information outside of your firewall, it may be too soon to consider a cloud-based ERP solution. Likewise, if you have numerous employees who work remotely and access to a hosted model would best suit their needs, an on-premise solution could limit their ability to leverage the system.

Out of the Box or Customization in ERP Comparison?

Once you have determined the delivery method that best suits your company’s culture, you can focus on customization versus out of the box functionality. A one-size-fits-all approach could offer you the functionality you need packaged in an affordable platform. If you focus on a niche industry or have unique needs, customization is the better option. Both approaches offer benefits and obstacles, so investigate each method closely to determine what best addresses the problems you aim to solve. If you can do that cost effectively with a solution that requires no customization, you may be able to contain your costs. Think long-term, however, can that solution grow with you?

Does Price Matter in Your ERP Comparison?

To suggest that price should matter in your ERP comparison is the equivalent to suggesting that you aren’t actually in business to make money. Yes, price does matter, but it shouldn’t be the leading factor in your decision. If you purchase your ERP platform based on price alone, you won’t get full value out of the platform and you’ll likely spend more money trying to fit the wrong solution. This doesn’t mean you can’t purchase with a budget. Instead, design your budget around your needs assessment and delivery evaluation to determine the value you will receive from the implementation. At that point, price won’t be nearly as important as the return on investment.

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