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5 Things to Consider Before Going on an ERP Purchasing Journey

Do you ever feel like your business is being held back by its technology? Do you feel as though you are poised for tremendous growth, but it is not being realized to the level you envision because of the necessary evil of time-consuming manual busy work like creating invoices, entering bills, recording payments, cutting checks, and reconciling bank accounts? You are certainly not alone.

If this is even vaguely familiar, it’s a sign that it may be time to consider implementing or upgrading to a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to modernize your business.  Whether it’s a new addition to your business or a legacy system that your business has grown or aged out of, harnessing an ERP tool can work wonders to integrate all parts of your business, automate business processes and streamline how work gets done.

At the same time, purchasing an ERP tool is a daunting task. With all the variety in the marketplace and the level of change a new ERP has the potential to introduce, it can be difficult to know whether it’s the right strategic move and whether the time is right for a new ERP. To help you reach a decision, here are five things to consider before going on an ERP purchasing journey.

1. Fortunately, not one size fits all

Gone are the days when the ERP software you chose for your business dictated how you ran your business – in today’s marketplace, there is a solution for everyone. The world’s most popular ERP providers now have variations of their products built specifically for different industries and business models, each with hosts of add-on modules, “configurable” to a degree that can create a bespoke solution meeting your specific business needs. With that said, though, it is easy to get caught up only looking at the most glamorous solutions when it is often the case that a lighter solution is able to handle everything your business needs with its standard out-of-the-box functionality. Other times, it is best to find a middle ground, with the foundation of a lighter ERP enhanced further by taking advantage of third-party providers to offer a highly functional solution tailored to your business at a fraction of the cost. Long story short, in the world of ERP, there are many, many options, so it is always worthwhile to explore fully what is available and not get sucked in by solutions you’ve seen work for others, or the first solution you see can meet your business’ needs.

2. There is a cost to procure and implement

It is no secret that software costs money and can be expensive. Accepting this is typically a prerequisite to embarking on an EPR purchasing journey. What can often be overlooked, however, is a significant commitment required to procure and implement an ERP solution. Whether the business decides to embark on the pursuit entirely on its own or chooses to consult with experts to guide them through the process, the time, resources, and in the latter case, monetary costs can escalate quickly. In either regard though, as in anything, you get out of it what you put in. Implementing the best ERP for your business and learning how to take full advantage of its capabilities can completely transform your enterprise and position it for tremendous growth. This upfront cost must be weighed against the substantial time and resource savings the solution will unlock in efficiency gains, and more often than not is easy to justify in the long run.

3. Make sure the software can “GROW” with your company

Given the fact that a new ERP can be a significant investment, it is rarely an endeavor a business can entertain on a regular basis. When the decision is made, it is something you want to do right, which is why it’s important to consider the fact that what your business looks like today will likely not be what it looks like tomorrow. The natural path of any successful business is growing, and with growth comes expanding business needs, often with an increased degree of complexity. It’s important to seek out and design an ERP tool that can grow and expand with you while offering a platform to drive innovation. This can be as simple as the ability to add additional users or lines of business, or as complex as the ability to handle international operations across multiple business entities using local languages. To get the most out of a new ERP tool, decision-makers should keep in mind the overall trajectory of their business and keep in mind the vision they have for the company, as typically what has resulted in a companies present success cannot guarantee its path to future success. When done right, this foresight will help a new ERP become an enabler, integral to the business achieving its ultimate mission and vision.

4. Consider the end-user and their needs

Transitioning to a new ERP is a tremendous opportunity for a business. It opens up the possibility to transform and modernize the way it operates (i.e. rethink how work gets done today in a digital world), making things monumentally easier for its employees across various channels. Keeping that in mind, though, the transition can be detrimental to a business if it attempts to completely erase its previous life. For this reason, it is vital to consider the end-user, both when making the decision to move to a new ERP tool as well as when configuring the way in which it will be used. Technology is all well and good, but if business owners and employees cannot actually do their job then an ERP transition can cause immense turmoil and has the potential to be the beginning of the end. By considering the needs of the end-user “internal customer” rather than only seeking out the dream-like functionality, you can be sure to select the best course of action for the entire enterprise and make the transition as seamless as possible.

5. Change equals uncertainty, and buy-in is paramount

Part and parcel with the need to consider the end-user is the need to understand what a new ERP tool means in its most fundamental sense for your business – change – and change inevitably equals uncertainty. In large part, it is easy for a business owner or executive to make a business case for transitioning to a new ERP. What can be overlooked, however, is that regardless of the goal to improve the business, the way it will operate will be different, and what it always comes down to is someone having to do the work. Intentions mean nothing if stakeholders do not buy-in to the project, buy-in to the change, and buy-in works its way from the top down. Without it, a new ERP will never achieve its full potential and can possibly fail entirely.  Before embarking on an ERP purchasing journey, consider what it means for the people that will be most affected and make an effort from the very beginning to get everyone on board, working toward the ultimate goal of improving your bottom line. Buy-in equals user adoption which equals more certainty towards achieving Return on Investment.

Looking for an ERP vendor or have general questions about how an ERP system can help you? Contact a Withum consultant online, or give us a call at (212) 829-3240.

 

Author: Thomas Burns | tburns@withum.com

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