How to Choose an ERP System: What's right for your business?
If you’ve come to this page, it probably means you’re looking for a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Choosing an ERP solution is a serious commitment in time, money, and resources, but most importantly, the success of your business depends heavily on its ability to do the job. Unfortunately, companies tend to make decisions like these based on time and money. Worse, they are often in a bind and have to make a quick decision to avoid more problems. Making this decision based solely on any of these criteria can lead to heartache in the long run. We’ve been working with ERP systems for many years from every angle—programming, business process analysis, industry specific applications, accounting—and, although we’re somewhat biased towards Microsoft Dynamics NAV, we want you to choose a product that’s right for your company. So, before you dig into learning more about Dynamics NAV or any other ERP product, here is some sound advice we hope you’ll consider:
Before you look at software…
Determine your business goals and objectives. As ArcherPoint’s project management expert Alan Campbell says, “Testing the success of a project using time and budget are not really good indicators in the determination of success. A project’s true measure of success is based upon the project’s deployed solution fulfilling the business goals and objectives, delivering business value, and meeting the needs of stakeholders.” Read Alan’s blog to learn more.
Determine the scope, then timeline and budget. Once your objectives and goals are clear, you can begin determining the scope of the project. Instead of throwing technology at a problem, you’ll be determining how you can use technology to help you proactively reach your goals and objectives. Once the scope is generally set, you can then determine a realistic timeline and a budget. Scope, time, and budget might shift slightly as you learn more about your options for ERP solutions and as you discuss your needs with ERP providers, but your foundation will be set and will keep you on track.
Now you’re ready to look at software…and a partner
Now that you have your goals, objectives, timeline, and budget in place, you might think the next step is to start reviewing ERP software. This is partially correct; however, it is equally as important for you to review who will be implementing the software. Anyone who has been through an IT software implementation will tell you that the wrong partner can make the right software fail. In fact, most companies on their second ERP implementation rank support provided by the partner higher than the software’s functionality, cost, or ease of implementation. So, as you investigate ERP packages, take the opportunity to interview the partners that represent them as you move along in your research. Here are some questions to ask about the software and the partner:
- Is the foundation of the software (without customizations) designed to fit my business goals and objectives?
- Is the software flexible? Will it fit the way we do business, including integrating with other technology? If customizations are needed, is the partner qualified to handle them, particularly the specific needs of my industry?
- Is the software reasonably easy to implement? Does the partner have a proven methodology to plan and manage implementations with as little disruption to business operations as possible? Will the partner work in a true collaboration with my company, involving our team during every stage of the project, from planning through training?
- Will the software grow with my business? Is the software scalable and easily upgradable? Does the partner have a solid upgrade methodology to ensure a smooth transition?
- Are the software and the partner sound? Do they have a proven track record?
Choosing an ERP system is one of the most important business decisions your company will ever have to make. If you’re clear on your goals and do your homework on potential software and implementation partners, you’ll make the right decision—and when you’re ready to start your search, we hope you’ll contact us to discuss what Microsoft Dynamics NAV and ArcherPoint can do for you.