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How to pick an ERP (And why it's a bit like getting married!)

Getting married is a bit like choosing an ERP system. You get married because you want to spend the rest of your life with your partner. You don’t just get married to anybody though because marriage is a bit of a big deal! It’s like that choosing an ERP. When you do pick an ERP, you want to make sure you pick the right one that’ll keep you happy for a long time!

Are you nervous? It’s OK to be nervous, pre-wedding jitters are common!

You’re probably in the market for an ERP because you’re fed up of laborious things like: manually entering your data, drowning in sea of financial confusion and inaccurate inventories.

Our secret to making sure you get the right ERP system? A simple case of picking the right partner.
In order to find that elusive “right partner” we need to take you back to basics:

So, what is ERP?

Glad you asked. ERP (Enterprise Resource planning) is a software system that helps you to manage different business functions like financials, supply chain and manufacturing. All of these functions get bundled into one system which aims to centralise and automate parts of your business. We’ve written a blog on this before, so go on – take a look.

So now you know what ERP is and does, but how does it help?

How ERP helps your business

ERP helps by centering its principles around improving productivity, collaboration and efficiency.  Confused? Here’s a few examples of what they all mean in day to day terms:

  • Automates certain tasks, like data entry and report generation
  • Boosting data security within your business
  • Single source of data for analytics
  • Improves your inventory management and accuracy
  • Eliminating the need for single-purpose software

If you’re a fan of saving time, working better with your colleagues and having accurate inventory then it’s time to start thinking about picking your ERP!

So how do I pick an ERP?

Good question! Selecting the right ERP system and provider is a pretty tricky process. You need to sit down, take a step back and really think about what issues your organisation faces. Will an ERP really do the trick? Or do you need a CRM as well?

We’ve prepared a list of the six most important things for you to think about:

Before you do anything at all, set some clear objectives so you have a clear idea of what you want and need for an ERP system. You don’t want to make the mistake of failing to define these objectives and ending up marrying an ERP you hate!

Ask yourself things like:

  • Why do I need an ERP system?
  • Can an ERP resolve my issues?
  • Will my chosen ERP support my business in the future?

Consider the cloud

95% of businesses are using some sort of cloud technology in their day to day activities. [1] It’s pretty easy to see why, as cloud technology has helped businesses realise a mobile first workforce. Most major ERP systems have some sort of web interface that’s allows you to work anywhere, on whatever device.

Ask yourself: Would your staff benefit from a mobile enabled ERP solution? Would it help with their day to day? Don’t know about the cloud? We’ve got you covered!

Picking the right product

Now you’ve spent a bit of time doing some homework, it’s time you picked your product. There are lots and lots of different ERP software out there – but you can only walk down the aisle with one! So which is it? Look at the requirements of your business. If you’re struggling with inventory, then perhaps Microsoft Dynamics NAV is a good idea? If it’s financials then Microsoft Dynamics GP is the “one”.

Have a read of some blogs, download some whitepapers and educate yourself on what does what.

Get in touch with an ERP provider

They’ll probably want to call you, as buying an ERP is a pretty big deal. They’ll take some requirements from you over the phone, so have all of your notes ready.

Make sure you do your homework on the reseller too. Find out how long they’ve been doing business for and how satisfied some of their previous customers have been. It’s important that you have total confidence in the reseller, as they’ll be working very closely with you to ensure the ERP system they sell is set up and operates exactly the way you need it to.

Cover ALL your bases

In any partnership it isn’t plain sailing. Sometimes things go wrong and it’s very important that you have a strong support system in place to manage this. A good place to start would be checking out what your ERP provider does? What kind of support do they offer? What’s their SLA? What are their support hours?

Price it all up

Weddings are very costly affairs. Hidden extras can tot up in the thousands and it can surprise even the shrewdest of wedding planners. It’s the same with an ERP system too!

Get your ERP provider to give you a cost of everything. Some ERP providers have been known to compound and confuse things with lots of different pricing options. Make sure your selected ERP partner is very clear with exact costings. For example:

  • Upfront costs
  • Support cost
  • Add-on costs (Third party plugins)
  • Persistent costs (Costs associated with SaaS subscription models)

Happily, ever after?

And there you have it! You should have enough tips to go on to find your perfect ERP system. Now all you need to do is go ahead, take the plunge and commit to your partnership with your ERP.

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