Steps to Take When Comparing ERP Vendors
Companies often realize they have an issue within their organization and determine an ERP will be of great help in resolving this matter.
16:44 29 November 2020
However, they must decide which ERP to use. This depends in part on their departmental goals, as the features found in the program must help to achieve these goals. Imagine what the ERP could do to help the business move forward and use this information to come up with a list of hypothetical product specs you need.
When comparing ERP vendors, you may find you need to prioritize certain features over others. Determine which ones will offer the best return on investment and which may be nice to have but aren't essential. If this seems an impossible task, create a ranking system. Use this system to assign weight to each feature, as this will help you determine your priorities when comparing the vendors.
Factors to Consider
Don't expect to find the perfect program, which is why this step is so important. With the ranking system, finding one that comes close won't be as difficult. What factors should you consider as you move through this process?
Deployment often serves as a priority when companies go to choose an ERP vendor. They may find their own servers in-house aren't adequate for the ERP they wish to use. In this case, select a cloud-based solution, which could narrow the choices. Other organizations, however, find they can choose either an in-house program or a cloud-based one, and this could open up the options they have.
Scalability likewise needs consideration during the decision-making process. People often think about what features they may need in the future and buy a program accordingly. Don't overlook the fact that more employees may make use of the program in the future. Consider the scalability in terms of both areas, rather than just one area. This ensures the program meets your needs as the organization grows.
What is necessary to implement the program? Will it be able to go live in the desired timeframe? Don't overlook integration with current software as you make your choice. If there are programs you wish to continue using with the ERP, now is the time to make certain they will work together. Consider future integrations as well. An augmented reality headset might be useful, or you may need a third-party add-on. See if the ERP integrates with a wide range of products to reduce the risk of needing to purchase a new program at a later date.
Mobile apps benefit many companies, and each organization must determine if this is a required feature or one, they would like to have. Accessing solutions in the field improves customer service, so every business needs to look into this feature. You may also need a program that supports a BYOD system, as many employees use a personal device rather than a company-issued one.
Some companies develop their own apps and add-ons. Will the ERP allow you to do this? If not, keep searching for a program that will. Finally, consider the support and training options offered by the provider. Look into support during the implementation period and for ongoing maintenance. They should offer multiple support options, such as text or phone solutions. Ask if they handle the support remotely or if a local vendor would be available to help when needed. Finally, will the vendor provide training or will this take place within the organization?
With this information in hand, behind researching various vendors. Many ERPs focus on a specific industry and quite a few businesses start with these products initially. A good place to get information about available programs is through an industry association or by speaking with peers who use a program of this type already. Narrow the choices by talking with others to see which programs are beneficial, and which don't live up to their claims. For instance, learn which programs have helped others improve their customer service. Companies recognize their customer services help them stand out in the crowd, so never ignore the importance of this benefit when comparing ERPs.
Conduct Additional Research
Reducing the list of potential programs becomes easier thanks to the above steps. Now it is time to delve further into the programs remaining on the list. Certain vendors work with clients by providing a proposal tailored to their unique business. They may send a representative to your location to do a demonstration. Other companies offer free trials and online product demos. Be sure to take advantage of every opportunity to learn more about a program, as you want a good feel for how it will work within your company. However, don't research the product while overlooking the vendor.
When comparing vendors, learn how long each company has been in business and what their focus is. Certain companies offer ERPs useful across multiple industries, while others focus on a specific industry. If a vendor only works within one or two industries, ask how long they have been doing so. The vendor may have started out offering ERPs that cover a broad range of industries before transitioning over to focusing on only one or two industries. If this is the case, how long has your industry been their focus?
Did the company develop the product, or are they serving as resellers? People often want to know if they will need to go to a third party for help if something goes wrong with the product. Learn about the different pricing and billing options as well as the deployment and hosting options. Consider support options along with training. As mentioned above, companies need to know where to turn if they require help with the program.
One thing to consider when comparing the different programs is the responsiveness of the company. If it is difficult to contact a provider before you purchase the product, how hard will it be to reach them after they have made the sale? Communication needs to be effortless with an ERP. Ask additional questions. Is the program scalable, and how often do updates occur? Do they have plans to change it in the near future? Finally, learn how long the implementation of the program will take.
When speaking to a company, ask what makes them different from other providers. The company ought to provide several reasons their product and service stand out. If they cannot do so, you may wish to consider other options. This shouldn't serve as a deal breaker, but factor it into the equation along with their other answers.
Look for an ERP system that will serve you over the long term, one that stays ahead of its competitors in technology and the growth of the businesses it serves. People often get drawn in by a fancy interface and a few unique features. Delve deeper into the program to find one that serves you and helps you achieve your goals, rather than one with a pretty covering.