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Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software Consulting: 5 Things to Consider When Choosing an ERP System

In today’s fast-paced manufacturing landscape, an effective ERP system is more than just a tool; it’s a backbone supporting your business operations. As you embark on the journey to find the right ERP solution for your organization, here are five crucial considerations to keep in mind.

1. Company’s Reliability, Stability, and Longevity

When thinking about an ERP provider, how long they have been around and working with other industry-specific companies is a good sign of its reliability and overall brand reputation. Sure, startup tech companies have the fire to grow and provide solutions, but the solutions that have been around for some time and have seen the challenges of evolving business landscapes and adapted accordingly are the true winners. Another strong sign of reliability doesn’t come from the company’s website, it comes from their current customers and peers within the industry. Taking time to look into the company’s PR mentions, testimonials and reviews are always a great first step in determining if their solution is right for your business.

Equally essential are the company’s contract terms. A balanced contract indicates the vendor’s commitment to mutual success. After all, it’s a partnership, and both parties should feel its value. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, always ensure you have full access and ownership to your data, regardless of any hiccups or disagreements that might arise. Your data is your asset; ensuring its accessibility is non-negotiable.

Ask them about things like…

  • How long has the company been around?
  • Can you see an example contract early on in the process?

2. Minimizing Disruptions, Maximizing Efficiency 

Implementing an ERP system inherently comes with its set of challenges and risks to your organization. However, these should not include a complete overhaul of your existing business processes to fit how the software works. Though some flexibility may be required on your part when implementing an ERP solution, we’re not about re-inventing the wheel here. Instead, the software should have the capability to align with your current processes, minimizing disruptions and maximizing efficiency. Leveraging a software that is customized to your existing processes and aligns with your technology culture will help cut down the time and cost of training and re-training your team. 

3. Experience with Similar Business Models

There’s a significant advantage in choosing an ERP provider well-versed in your specific industry. They’ll understand the nuances, challenges, and requirements unique to your sector. Beyond this, ensure that the software’s capacity is suited to your business size and can handle your transaction volumes. You wouldn’t want to be in a situation where you’re outpacing your ERP system in just a few years. Anticipate future growth and choose a system that fits your needs and can scale with you.

Ask them about things like…

  • What size companies do you work with?
  • What does your product growth plans look like?

4. Seamless Integration Capabilities

In an interconnected digital world, your ERP system will not be operating in isolation. Whether it’s your CRM, manufacturing execution system (MES), or an accounting tool, the ERP system should play well with others. Smooth and quick integrations can save immense time and headaches down the road. Having a robust API available further promises flexibility and customization, ensuring your various systems talk to each other effectively.

5. Implementation and Ongoing Support

The journey with your ERP provider doesn’t end once the system goes live. Yes, the implementation phase is critical, and having a supportive partner during this transition can make all the difference. However, you should be seeking a long term partner that wants to be involved and provides support that’s proactive throughout the engagement. Something to consider is to take note of additional resources available to help aid in the functionality and adoption of the product within your organization. Are there comprehensive videos or eLearning modules to help your team adapt? How about ongoing support via an assigned representative or live chat? Ensuring your chosen provider offers knowledgeable and responsive tech support for any challenges you might face will save you loads of time and frustration. 

Ask them about things like…

  • What does your implementation road map look like?
  • What training resources are available?

Bonus Item: Software Accessibility

In today’s digital landscape, accessibility is key. Whether your team prefers a web-based interface or an on-premises solution, the software should cater to their needs. Cross-platform compatibility ensures everyone, regardless of their device or operating system, stays connected. A functional mobile app can be a game-changer, especially for those constantly on the move. And, given the diverse display requirements today, from boardroom big screens to mobile devices, your ERP should look pristine and function well, regardless of the display size. Asking about the accessibility before selecting an ERP solution is an essential best practice. 

The Bottom Line…Do Your Homework

Selecting the perfect ERP system can be a daunting process and one you should take your time to do your homework. We recommend inviting your leadership, managers and team who will be working with the software day-to-day to be involved in this selection as well as your long term technology planning process. No matter what you choose, we hope this provides the first stepping stones leading to your ideal ERP solution. If you feel that you are in over your head, your team does not have the expertise or bandwidth to accomplish this daunting task, or you need additional assistance or guidance when developing an ERP system tailored to your unique needs, please reach out to us.

Tom established Swip Systems in 1995 and has been providing business automation, software development, web application, and mobile app solutions ever since. As a business owner himself, he’s aware of the challenges and what’s necessary to stay competitive, which is why he is on a mission to help business owners grow and maintain profitability through technology. Tom is also the founder of Midwest Manufacturing Leaders (MML) and a keynote speaker.

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