1. Decide upon your unique needs
It’s a cliche, but it’s a cliche because it is true — all businesses are unique; the specific needs of two businesses are never alike. This is very important to consider when you are selecting which ERP software provider to partner with. Before you set about finding different software partners and narrowing down a shortlist, you first need to know your own business inside out. Specifically, you need to know the current business challenges you are trying to address and the root cause of these, as well as where you are aiming for your business to be in the future. With this in mind, what are you hoping to achieve from your ERP implementation project?
- Are you looking for better quality data and record-keeping?
- Are you looking to gain more insight from the data you are already gathering?
- Do you need a software solution that can pull together multiple aspects of your business?
- Are you looking for solutions that scale alongside your business?
- Are you looking for all of the above?
Once you have defined your aims, you need to think about how these aims relate to the nuance and idiosyncrasies of your specific business. Think about:
- the niche you operate in
- your annual turnover and profit
- your unique selling point in the market
- your value proposition
- the unique elements of your business.
This will provide you a good foundation for determining the right ERP software solution for you.
2. Consider which needs cannot be compromised on
Just like no two businesses are alike, few ERP solution providers are alike either. This is why the process of selecting an ERP software partner is sometimes difficult and confusing. Unlike several years ago, for medium to large-sized businesses there are no ‘out of the box’ or ‘one size fits all solutions’ anymore. Instead, there are base solutions with a number of different customisation and specialisation options available. This means that businesses can get closer than ever before to a tailormade, fully customised ERP software solution without paying bespoke prices. But not all the way. There may still be an element of compromise involved when you choose your solution. With this in mind, rank your aims and needs in order of performance. Think about the elements that cannot be compromised on — that you simply have to have. These are the big rocks of benefit that drive the right ERP solution for your business. You need to be certain that any service and software provider you partner with can hit these targets without fail. Life is about compromise. It’s true, but there are certain things we cannot afford to compromise on.
3. Decide on whether to use on-premise solutions or cloud solutions
You need to decide on whether you will handle your ERP solutions on premise, or if you would prefer to use a cloud ERP solution. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, depending on the level of internal resources you can draw upon.
Cloud solutions are hosted in cloud structures. They are remotely accessible from anywhere on the planet provided you have a compatible device and an internet connection. They are flexible and powerful, and are typically managed by an external MSP (Managed Services provider). This means they may not necessarily be tailored to the exact specifications of your business. On-premise solutions are hosted on-site in servers operated by your business. They can be completely tailored to your needs, but you are responsible if anything were to go wrong. They are also not remotely accessible, making them less flexible. Hybrid solutions combine the best of both worlds, with remotely accessible cloud-based components integrating with internally managed, server-based components. These solutions may be internally run, or they may be taken over by a Managed Service Provider, or MSP. Using an MSP is generally the better option for lower-level businesses who cannot draw upon vast amount of resources.
4. Consider your industry, and the set up and size of your business
The most suitable ERP solution will depend greatly upon the industry you operate in, as well as on the size and structure of your business. Looking for solutions that are geared towards success in your field will help you find a suitable fit for your company. There are also different ‘tiers’ of ERP solution available:
- Tier 1 solutions are for very large, enterprise-level businesses. SAP is a tier 1 solution.
- Tier 2 solutions are suitable for medium to large-scale businesses. Epicor is a tier 2 solution.
- Tier 3 solutions are for small businesses. MYOB or Xero are examples of tier 3 solutions.
Consider your business, consider what you need, and get the right solution. The pricing of these different tiers varies greatly, but then so does the functionality and the return on investment you receive.
5. Find ERP support options that suit you
One of the key words we have touched upon a few times already is ‘partner’. This is because when implementing an ERP software solution for your business, you are not simply purchasing a basic, off-the-shelf product. Instead, you are looking for candidates who not only provide the best software solution but who also provide the best customer experience. This means ongoing support that will assist you as your business grows and changes. What happens if you have a problem with your solution the day after you implement it? What if the problem does not arise until one or two years down the line? You need to know that your ERP solution partner is there for you when you need them. The best ERP solution partners will become an extension to your team, understanding and facilitating your needs throughout implementation of your software solution and beyond from business foundations, through to improvement and full digital transformation.
6. Look at past interactions
Consider the search for an ERP software partner in the same way you would consider the search for new staff. If you were looking to hire a new member of your team, you would seek references from past employers. You need to do the same with your software partner candidates. Seek out references or relevant customer case studies so that you know a little more about the candidate ahead of time — make sure that you know how the candidate treats their existing customers, so you can ascertain what sort of experience to expect from your own interaction.
Putting it in to practice
Keep these tips in mind, and you should be able to cut through the noise in the marketplace and find the best ERP software partner for your needs. With the right software and the right partner, your business will experience all the benefits of a great enterprise resource planning solution. Want to find out more about what we can offer medium-sized Australian businesses looking for an ERP software solution? Book a 15-minute informal phone discussion with one of our ERP solution specialists to see if we are the right fit for you.