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Whether you’re a veteran business leader, a bright-eyed college freshman, or the average Joe off the street, one of the most important life lessons you should learn through both theory and practice is that you can’t judge all investments equally. Impulse buying a pack of mints in line at the supermarket is certainly different from say, getting a soon-to-be ex’s name tattooed on your body. You cannot and should not view all investments through the same lens.
That argument can be applied to software as well. Choosing ERP system software is a perfect example. Being the premium, multi-year financial commitments that they are, ERP systems can determine where your business is headed in the future. The stakes, then, could not be higher.
That is why committing to an ERP system necessitates a fair amount of research on your part. If you don’t, you risk quite a bit. If you get it right, however, congratulations, you just made one of the best business decisions of your life.
To help you make that decision, we’ve created this guide of questions you simply must ask vendors before settling on any particular ERP system.
Steps for the ERP Selection Process
According to Gartner, the ERP selection process should be segmented in the following way:
- Understand the criteria for ERP application that is relevant to your business needs.
- Rank that criterion according to its relative importance.
- Determine how each vendor scores with respect to each criterion.
- Compare the results and see which one is the best fit for your business.
By being upfront about your needs regarding product capabilities, support, pricing, and more, you’ll be confident about the system you invest in while avoiding implementation failure.
Ask Vendors These Questions to Select the Right ERP System
By evaluating the answers vendors give you to these questions, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision for the ERP system software your business needs.
1. What are the software’s defining features?
Once you’ve researched and determined what your organization’s functionality requirements are, you’ll be able to determine whether a vendor meets your criteria.
- How well can the software be integrated?
- Can routine processes and tasks be automated?
- What are the types of data analytics that the system allows users to report on?
- What do those reports look like?
- What kind of security features does the system utilize to keep data secure?
2. How does the software’s infrastructure utilize new and emerging tech?
A modern cutting-edge ERP system must be capable of harnessing and deploying new and improved technologies that are relevant to your business’s needs. This is what a future-proof software infrastructure looks like:
- Intuitive and user-friendly interface
- Support for multiple tools and options
- Customizable software features to fit specific business operations and needs
- Third-party app integration capabilities
- Implementation of machine learning and AI
3. How much will securing and maintaining access to desired capabilities cost?
Considering the fact that ERP system software is a significant investment, you don’t want to find any surprises down the road that’ll cost you. With that in mind, here are the three main costs you should factor into the total cost of the system during the buying and implementation process:
Initial costs: This includes all upfront costs you will incur before the system goes live.
Ongoing costs: Of course, initial costs don’t present the whole picture. When determining your estimate, make sure to factor in the ongoing costs you will incur thought the software’s life—these range from subscription fees and integrations to maintenance and technical support.
Avoided costs: Most business owners tend to overlook this part of the buying process. Avoided costs are the recurring and nonrecurring expenses from applications that you will no longer be using once the ERP system is implemented.
4. What support services will be available?
Implementing and deploying the ERP system software isn’t exactly the easiest task. There are a lot of disparate applications coupled with a mountain heap of data to contend with. Your vendor of choice should be equipped to offer professional services to help with training and general support right from the time of purchase onward.
Technical support is particularly important for small and medium-sized businesses with limited IT staff and a lack of expertise.
5. What is your current and projected market presence like?
As good as the ERP software is, it’s equally important that the vendor is financially healthy and has a good market presence. If the latter isn’t the case, reliability, and stability will be an issue. If your vendor of choice has a stable financial foundation, it reflects well on the viability of the software. If a vendor is doing well for itself, it usually means:
- Their product is high-quality
- They have a loyal customer base
- They are optimistic about their future
An ERP system is no good to you if it isn’t going to last you long enough for you to benefit from it. You need a vendor that’s going to be there for as long as you intend to use it.
6. How do you intend to improve your products and services in the long term?
Once you’re confident about the vendor’s financial health, you need to determine what their future offerings will be a few years down the road. The ERP market is evolving rapidly, so you need to select a vendor that has a vision for its future products and services.
Does the vendor have:
- A practical roadmap for specific product improvements?
- Plans for implementing new and emerging technologies?
- Viable strategies to remain competitive in the ERP market for the long term?
If you’ve decided that adopting an ERP system is what your business needs and are currently in the process of selecting a quality vendor, get in touch with us at gotomyerp.
We are a premium, licensed QuickBooks hosting provider with an experienced team of industry professionals that provides high-quality ongoing technical and general support to ensure our QuickBooks hosting solution fits your organization’s business needs.