What is an ERP Selection Process?
How To Select an ERP System
As your company grows and seeks to work smarter, a big issue often emerges: how to select an ERP system that’s right for you. Selecting the right ERP system for your company is certainly an important and complex undertaking, and there are multiple factors to carefully consider as part of that process.
The paramount goal should be to select an ERP software system that's a good fit for your company and its particular requirements. One size does not fit all, and you should run (not walk) away from any ERP provider who indicates otherwise. A typical ERP selection process will help you evaluate where your business currently stands and determine which areas can be improved upon, so you can select the right ERP solution that will help you achieve your goals.
Because both (1) an ERP selection process and (2) an implementation of a new ERP system requires people to do their job differently, it is very important to understand the user requirements, not only for current processes but also for future processes. You need to be ready not just for today’s growth, but growth that may occur a decade from now, and your ERP system needs to grow along with you.
Without detailed user requirements, the review of systems for functional best fit rarely succeeds. The requirements must go into sufficient detail for complex processes, or processes that may be unique to a particular business. If not done well from the start, unclear requirements can create complications down the road as the implementation moves forward.
Most important question to answer in a ERP selection process:
- What will the true cost (TCO, or total cost of ownership) of the ERP solution be? Don’t forget that you’re not just looking for ERP software, but for help all along the way, from support to training to updates and far beyond.
- What kind of support and training will be provided? Be clear that your people will need to adopt the new ERP system, and that you’ll need support and training (from a trusted provider) to bring about that adoption.
- What technologies does the ERP solution offer and enable? Be clear on the technology side of things. You may need integrations or other support down the road to take advantage of today and tomorrow’s cutting-edge technologies.
- Which 10 criteria are most important to manufacturers and distributors?
Work with an ERP Partner Who’s Been There, Done That
When you explore how to select an ERP, you also need to ask “who can help us?” The answer needs to be an experienced ERP provider who listens, gets to know you and your needs, has seen all the pitfalls and problems (more on that below), solved them, and helped companies like yours thrive. Experience matters in an ERP provider the same way it matters everywhere else. Someone who knows the lay of the land, who can see the opportunities you have, and who cares about your goals, will help you avoid the potential challenges of any ERP implementation process.
A few of those challenges include:
1. Processes Must Be Clearly Defined. In order for an ERP system to map the processes in your company, the current processes must be clearly, thoroughly documented. Process modeling is complex, and an experienced ERP partner can help you perform the whole process. They’ll also be able to help you find opportunities for process improvement before they are mapped in your ERP.
You’ll need to reevaluate and reorganize your workflows, asking key questions such as: Which processes are really necessary and useful? Which can be made more efficient with the help of the new software? Which workflows have not been updated recently, even though processes have changed? Analyzing and discussing these questions in advance with an experienced ERP partner is crucial.
2. Data Migration. The transfer of old data into the new ERP system is an often underestimated aspect of a successful ERP implementation. The data quality in the new ERP system will only be as good as the quality of the migrated data, so duplicates, spelling errors or card details should be corrected before migration.
After the records have been cleaned up, the process mapping can take place. Only when the new data structure is proven to work in a detailed simulation will it be transferred to the production system. Again, having an experienced ERP partner who’s been there, done that is a major asset.
3. Change can be tough. Not all of your employees will be initially thrilled about an ERP implementation. Uncertainty creates insecurity. After all, jobs and processes are changing, information is becoming more transparent, responsibilities may be redistributed. It’s essential to communicate to each department the benefits of the ERP project for daily work and to familiarize employees with the new system through information flows, workshops, and training. Only when employees clearly understand why the change is happening and the benefits it brings, will they support and assist the ERP implementation.
Again, having an ERP partner who’s helped thousands of companies manage change effectively is a huge help during the ERP implementation process.
Perform Your Due Diligence
Because so much is at stake, it’s best to be very methodical when it comes to how you select an ERP. Being meticulous and performing your due diligence is the only way to go. Making the right choice for your ERP system will improve your business’ operations, automate most data-driven processes, and integrate your entire infrastructure. A failed ERP implementation can be very damaging to your business. So a careful, well-considered approach is needed, as is finding an experienced partner.
Looking for information on how to select the right ERP system for you? Click the image below to download the Guide to Selecting ERP in 7 Easy Steps.