Is it time to start researching new business management ERP systems? Typically when you get to the point of ERP selection searching, there are key areas of business inefficiencies that are driving such a search. This can be a very daunting endeavor. However, having been in business for over 40 years, iCepts Technology Group, Inc, also being a Microsoft ERP Software Vendor, can provide some guidance on a new business software search from our many years of experience consulting with our clients. Feel free to use this 2022 ERP Selection Checklist to provide insight as you start your new software process.
This first step in the ERP selection process should be a thorough business examination of why a change is needed. Chances are your business has been operating with your existing ERP system for some time. Do you remember the reasons why your company selected its current ERP system? How has it held up over the years? Is there a lack of support or confidence that your existing business solution will meet current (and future) business requirements? Perform a deep survey of every department to identify areas of challenges that are not been currently met with your current system and are critical to your operations? What areas are being met however could be improved on? An important question to strongly consider is what return on investment (ROI) can you reasonably expect with a new ERP system. Remember an ROI can both be time savings and revenue savings. How will the new software make your business operations run more smoothly and reach your objectives? How do you quantify success in your new ERP Project Implementation?
Gather Requirements and Consensus:
Now that you have found key areas of your business that are causing enough “bottlenecks” and pain points to justify a new, modern Enterprise Resource Planning ERP Software, it is time to put together an ERP Requirements list. What areas are not being addressed by your current system that your company absolutely must have in a new business system? Create a hierarchy of requirements such as; Critical to Have, Must Haves, Nice to Have, Not as Important, and Not Important. As you start segmenting business areas that of most important to your company and those that are not, now is the time to start thinking about how you are going to communicate these to your ERP partner. It could be your same ERP partner or a new ERP partner. The clearer, in order of importance, the critical and not so critical areas that you want to see in your new system, the better. You can also start with a rough draft, of course, and as more detailed conversations occur with key decisions makers of your company, you can refine to produce a final requirements document or RFP (request for proposal). Also, don’t forget to build a consensus with your team. Envision how a new business management/ERP system will help the various departments across the enterprise by gathering their specific requirements and what is important to them. Frequently employees don’t like change, however, explain the benefits of a new modern business system. Take your time and have your company engaged with meetings frequently to finalize your requirements document, by importance.
Is your Business Cloud-Ready?
The movement to cloud business management systems has been gaining steam and acceptance for some time now. There are numerous benefits to transition to the cloud such as a lower initial investment, updates are steadier, your company typically does not have to rely on your own infrastructure, and the advantage of mobility-access your ERP anywhere on any device. There are also some things you should be aware of in cloud technology in general. Overall, the movement to cloud-based systems in our mobile, on-the-go business environment makes a lot of sense. Employees want to access their information where it is most convenient to them. In addition, having timely updates and in a sense never having to do a major ERP project update is a sigh of relief for most people involved. There is potential downtime if the internet that you are relying your information on is not available or down for some reason. Also, there are potential storage costs (in the cloud), and companies are “renting” their ERP system rather than a sense of ownership. However, companies are embracing the cloud for their next ERP system for both a much lower pricing point and quicker setup to get going typically. Another benefit is adding on any additional business functionality, i.e. business apps, which are also usually a cloud-based solution. Together these add-on systems can tailor to your unique business requirements. It is interesting to note that there are some ERP vendors that still offer the option for an On-Premises Business System. Some ERP Vendors only offer cloud-based systems. The trend, of course, has been moving to the cloud for all of your business management systems and apps.
Finding the Right ERP Partner:
You have your ERP business requirements listed and agreed upon by key members of your team in addition to a decision reached on either Cloud or On-Premises deployment. If all of your business requirements that can help improve efficiencies and solve business challenges can be met with your current ERP vendor; that is typically the best choice. There are literally hundreds of ERP systems on the market today and it can be difficult to choose the right one. As you continue to do your research on what would potentially fit best for your organization, your list of potential matches will get smaller and smaller. Not every ERP software system has the same strengths. If you are looking for another ERP vendor, make sure you interview and research them as much as your potential new business system. Ask some key questions such as How long in business? Have you worked with companies in similar industries? Describe your new ERP Implementation process. Before you just buy licenses and schedule a “go live” date; an ERP partner should spend enough time getting to know your business and what your company is trying to accomplish. Have mutual goals and checkpoints been established? Your ERP solution partner should truly be a partner in your success.
Implementation and Expectations:
At this point, your company has several goals for your new ERP system such as time frame, who will be involved, and when to “go live”. It is paramount to have detailed discussions prior to implementation, and contract execution, of course, to have realistic expectations on your new systems. There will always be some “hiccups” along the road. Communication is so important in new business systems implementations. To have established meetings, before, on-going, and “go live” is critical for a smooth implementation. Remember the goals established for your organization and what is most important in a new business system.
Training and Support:
Training and Support are also key areas that you want to establish during your new ERP system journey. In regards to training, what would work best for your organization may not work optimally for others. Such as on-site, versus virtual training and the ratio for each. Enterprise Resource Planning systems are powerful yet can also be complicated to fully understand and harness their potential to run your business. Proper training schedules and availability for follow-up questions, access to your ERP trainers, and ongoing support are vital to a successful implementation. Your ERP partner should convey the feeling that they are truly vested being a trusted partner and consultant for any of your questions before, during, and after implementation.
We hope this article gives some ideas and guidance when you have decided to look for your next ERP systems for your company. Both new ERP software selection and choosing the right technology partner are vital to ensure success. Feel free to contact iCepts Technology Group and research the ERP system we specialize in called Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. Below are further resources as well. We look forward to answering any of your questions:
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