The process of purchasing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software can be a complex one, particularly for companies who have never engaged in a project of this scale or scope before. Here are some quick tips to help you find the best solution to meet your needs and maximize the value of your ERP software.
Outlining the objectives you are trying to achieve or the issues you are trying to solve and identifying the key stakeholders and their requirements will help you best determine what ERP software features you really need. You should also define your project’s critical success factors, as well as any pending business strategies that may impact your back office operations, and ultimately, your ERP software environment.
You’re going to need to talk to several ERP software vendors before you can narrow down the “short list” of ones that can best meet your needs. Conduct a thorough interview of each vendor by asking about their background and history and the features and capabilities of their ERP software applications. You can also ask for a live demonstration, so you can see the solutions in action, and request to speak to existing customers to get their opinions of the company and its offerings.
If you really want to get a feel for how an ERP software package will operate, a live demonstration may not be enough. Ask the vendor to let you trial the application for 60 to 90 days. Although this won’t completely guarantee success, it can certainly help you make a more accurate assessment of whether or not the solution can truly meet your needs.
Enterprise technology negotiations have become increasingly sophisticated, and ERP software is no exception. Keep working with other ERP software vendors, and let your sales rep know that price will be a huge factor in your final decision. Don’t take free stuff you don’t need – such as additional features or modules – in lieu for a discount. Don’t forget about implementation, consulting, training, and maintenance costs, as there may be opportunities for discounts there as well.
Map out your existing workflows, and determine how you want the ERP software to impact them before you implement and customize your new solution. Additionally, make sure your IT team creates a diagram of your existing technology environment and illustrates where the new ERP software will be integrated.
You’ll also need to decide how you want to deploy your applications. Since ERP software affects so many back-office functions, the “all at once” approach may create far too many disruptions. Many companies go with a waterfall ERP software implementation that rolls out the changes over a period of time.
User adoption is crucial to your ability to derive true value from your ERP software. Involve both departmental management and end users at every step of the process, so they embrace the project from the start. By soliciting their ongoing feedback, you can make them feel as though they have a vested interest in seeing the initiative succeed.
Clearly define measurable goals at the outset of your ERP initiative, and monitor the results continuously. This will allow you to identify and correct any problems, so you can ensure ongoing success with your ERP software.