Evaluating ERP systems requires time, focus and organization. Below are a few tips to keep in mind when beginning an evaluation.
- Define specific goals for the project. An experienced advisor will want to research all possible paths to meet the project objectives. Focus on how ERP systems meet defined needs and de-emphasize “wow” features that don’t support the defined business goals.
- Be open to changing business processes. Your organization’s business processes were developed at a previous time for a previous system. Perhaps a process can be simplified or modified in the future, moving toward best practices in the new system. Approach the selection process recognizing that the organization will realize significant benefits by being open to redefined processes.
- Involve an executive sponsor Involve a decision maker, preferably the executive that will have final approval for the project. The executive does not need to sit through every meeting or demo. However, they should have a defined cadence for providing and receiving input on the evaluation.
- Get budget recommendations early. ERP providers should provide budgetary ranges for your review early in the process once they are confident and understand the variables that affect the required budget.
- Remember the 80/20 rule. It is rare that any software is a 100% perfect match (it’s a red flag if no gaps have been identified). Knowing the “gaps” up front will allow proactive planning to address areas that are not a perfect fit.
- Evaluate a few systems, but not too many. Narrow options quickly to two or three. A high-level review of cost and functionality often provides enough information to narrow the field to the two or three best fits.
- Timing is important. An evaluation should not be rushed, nor should it be premature. Depending on the complexity of the project, the selection process may take a few weeks or months. Allow a reasonable amount of time to get to know the provider that will partner with your firm to deploy the system.
- Select a provider that suits your business needs and complements your organization. During the evaluation process, you will work with the provider’s team and see how they approach the process. The business practices, responsiveness and professionalism that are practiced during the evaluation process are a preview to how the partner will approach the implementation.
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