Enterprise Resource Planning software is a critical
asset of any business – large or small.
The resources that such an ERP software consumes and the
output that it delivers go a long way in determining the success
or failure of your business strategy vis-a-vis your competitors.
Consequently, it is extremely important that you get the right
software for your business. Here are some questions you must
ask your vendor before opening your purse strings.
Experience in The Industry
Not all ERP software are made equal. Some applications work better for certain industries. While you could compare features of your favorite ERP against competition to see if you are paying for the right solution, one of the most trusted ways to be sure is to check for what your peers in the industry are using. Doing this solves two challenges – first, you could be rest assured that the ERP solution is made for your industry requirements and second, in case of a missing feature, you may still not be losing your edge to competition since they are using the same application as well.
Implementation And Support Provided
Most ERP manufacturers offer some kind of implementation and ongoing support for their products. However, the duration of support and the cost of implementation are important factors to consider. In addition, if you need extended consulting and training for your ERP solution, then it is best to go with a provider that has a network of solution partners. One example for such a partner is Syntax that offers consultation for Oracle JD Edwards, IBM, Microsoft among others.
Implementation Lead Time
ERP implementation is a lengthy and expensive affair that takes as much as a year to get done at a cost of as much as $750,000. Given the resources at stake here, it is imperative for the implementation time to be as optimal as possible. Most vendors provide a pretty optimistic time-frame. However, to verify the actual time taken, it is best to get references about your partner from previous clients who the vendor has worked with. It will not only give you an idea of the time it is most likely to take but also help you find answers to other questions like their reliability, support, etc.
ERP implementation is not a one-time process. Because of the changing dynamics in the industry, ERP solutions need to see constant upgrades. Now this window needs to be optimally placed – too many upgrades would mean frequent system shutdowns as well as a higher expense (since you need to pay for every upgrade). However, too few upgrades would mean your competitors who are on alternate software products could have an edge over you in technology. The ideal software will ensure you get critical updates on time without losing competency. On this topic, it is recommended to look for cloud ERP solutions since these products do not need system shutdowns at your business end for the upgrades to happen.
ERP implementations rarely happen on budget. There are always changes and implementation failures that need to be accounted for while estimating the cost. Therefore, it is important for you to get the right cost estimate from your vendor. If feasible, implement a penalty clause for the vendor if they breach the deadlines or the budget allocations.
Businesses need to realize that ERP implementation is not the end in itself but simply a process improvement for better business. Therefore, ERP must be seen as an enabler that does not cost too much in terms of time or money – only this will ensure that you shall pick the right vendor who can get them implemented at your budget and within your deadlines.
Harini Rao works as a software engineer in Bangalore, India with over 3 years of
experience in enterprise software. She is also a budding technology writer in her free time