The search for ERP software can be overwhelming to say the least. We hope the following tips will help you to keep the project in perspective and avoid costly, time consuming mistakes.
#1 All Aboard!
The success of an ERP implementation hinges primarily on the people. It is important that top-level management is on-board and involved in the process. They drive the company and if they are not invested in the project, it will be evident and will affect staff involvement considerably.
Equally important is to include all staff/departments that will be affected by the implementation. This can be done in several different ways depending on the size of your company and how your business operates. Involving all staff will not only provide the proper perspective when selecting a system, it also greatly impacts user adoption.
#2 Understand your business strengths and challenges
Every business has unique characteristics and ways of doing things. Depending on the industry and the product/service your business provides, there may be processes and procedures that work very effectively and must be maintained.
There are other aspects of a business that are fairly standard and though your business may handle a procedure slightly different than another, the outcome is often the same. An example of this is general accounting procedures.
Have a clear understanding of what processes must be maintained and which ones can be adapted to the software you select.
Keep in mind that customizations can be very costly and affect your implementation throughout the entire use of the software. A good vendor will gain a solid understanding of your business processes and provide you with helpful insight and recommendations based on their experience.
#3 Where you grow, the software must too
As your business grows and changes, your requirements for managing and using information evolves. A good ERP solution will offer full functionality out of the box and will come with a set of more advanced, specific tools that can be purchased and implemented as needed.
#4 Small fish in a big pond or big fish in a small pond? Consider the source
ERP software is generally sold in two ways:
- Directly from the developer/vendor
- Through a reseller or business partner often referred to as a VAR (Value Added Reseller). This is what we are, by the way!
There are pros and cons to each and it often comes down to your preference as it relates to the access to support/customer service and the relationship you have developed throughout the software evaluation process.
In general, the developer/vendor is a large organization with multiple locations and a centralized support and customer service centre.
A VAR on the other hand, is a smaller business that tends to be more geographically focused and often has extensive experience in specific industries and/or functionality within the product.
#5 Lipstick or Facelift? Assess your current technology
If you are not the IT department, now is the time to involve them. It is important to know your current technology environment, especially if you have no plans (or budget) to change it. The type and age of database and servers your business is currently using can limit your ERP search down to those that are compatible with your current technology.
If you intend to replace your servers/databases/hardware, your current environment is not as much a consideration as your budget is. This will also add a layer of complexity to your evaluation process as you asses the best type of technology for your business (keeping in mind scalability) and try to predict the futureto ensure your selection does not become obsolete in the coming years.
#6 It all comes down to the bottom line – understand the costs…all of them
Due to the complexity and reach of an ERP system within your business, there are several costs associated with the purchase and implementation of the software. To avoid surprises and running over budget, be aware of the various costs involved and be sure you have a clear understanding (in writing) of what all of these costs include before you make a decision.
- Initial purchase of the software/software licenses
- Software implementation
- Maintenance (annual fee you will pay for access to software updates and upgrades)
- Support (sometimes an annual fee, can be various levels – gold/platinum or an hourly rate as needed)
- Training (don’t underestimate the importance of training for user adoption and proper use!)
- Hardware/technology requirements (servers, database, workstations, barcode scanners, etc.)
Where do you go from here?
Be sure to consider the source when gathering information on ERP systems. Some ERP software comparisons are sponsored by the developers/vendors and others have been done by independent consultants.
The best way to review and evaluate ERP software is to speak directly with the vendor or VAR representatives, meet in person whenever possible and see the software. The first pass can simply be an online demonstration to help narrow down your selection. Then view in-depth the two or three applications that best suit your business.
Harvest Ventures Inc. is the leading Canadian Authorized Reseller of Macola ERP software and Exact business software. We have been implementing and supporting Macola and Exact products since our inception in 1999 and specialize in building custom Business Automation Tools to further enhance these product lines.
With staff located in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, and the United States, Harvest’s team of professionals offer a complete solution to small and medium sized businesses in many different industries.
We at Harvest Ventures work hard to solve our clients’ business challenges and ensure the software delivers solid operational information to effectively run your organization. Please contact us to learn more about how Harvest Ventures can help your company.