The right ERP, or Enterprise Resource Planning, software is crucial to any business. When you have different facets, areas and departments all utilising information and other computer systems, you need a fluid, practical and secure way to manage this sensitive information.
Of course, technology is also being constantly updated. As such, there often comes a time when you may be thinking about implementing new ERP software. To help with this difficult decision, here are 10 things you need to consider:
The cost is always something that is going to be important. As a business, you have to justify any cost. More than whether or not something is affordable, you need to ascertain its value. This is most easily done by comparing its price with how it performs with the other factors on this list and comparing it with its competitors.
Given the sensitive data and the multi-functional uses of ERP, you need to consider and look into how much a new piece of software would implement itself into your business. Is it compatible with your other software, or is extra work needed to make it coherent? Extra work, of course, reduces its potential value. As an example, Microsoft Dynamics looks a lot like its Office suite, which makes for easier interface for most staff members.
Given the sensitive data, from payroll to financial and personal information, it’s important to have a secure system. As such, every new piece of software needs to adhere to modern security standards and certificates. Security also ties into the cloud, as well as the process of integration. If your new software doesn't integrate effectively enough, will that leave potential back-door exploits and holes in the system’s security?
Likewise, this can also be seen as a waste of time. How much time does this software take to implement? On a similar note, you should also consider how much time it would take staff to be trained or become familiar with the new software. Failure to adapt quickly may affect other elements of your business, but taking time out to learn a completely new interface could present just as many problems.
Similar to time, productivity is a key area. If this new software isn't as intuitive as the existing system, for instance, your staff may be forced to input things manually. However, something that fits in more effectively and frees up your employees a bit more could increase potential productivity as a result.
As already hinted at, your choice of ERP software might also depend on your staff. If you have an in-house IT department, are they comfortable with your choice of software? More than making sure staff are familiar with it; it’s your IT staff that will be in charge of running, monitoring and keeping the software working. If they aren't comfortable or able to adapt to your choice, you could run into potential problems.
7. Size of Company
Bigger companies arguably need to get more from their software. Your company size will affect a lot of things. How many people need to access it at once? How many different departments need to use the software between each other? This will also affect your computer network or system; smaller companies may not have the resources required to monitor your own dedicated servers.
8. Cloud v Client-Side Storage
There is a general move that is evident in a lot of ERP, including the likes of Oracle and Workday, to move to the cloud. Whether this is beneficial or not depends on both your practicality and the nature of your business. If you have sensitive information, for instance, you might want to trust and invest in your own secure servers. If you do go for cloud, the security and reliability of the remote server is important, but it does free up space, expenses and the sheer resources required to monitor your own servers.
9. Support and Backup
If something does go wrong, how well supported are you? Sometimes this is down to the software, such as whether it can keep backup files (another aspect of using the cloud you need to consider) or the actual company behind the software? A reliable company offering proper support, potential patches and other assistance is arguably a wiser investment. Also consider the benefits of SaaS, Software as a Service, as this encourages software providers to offer better support.
10. Growth Potential
Finally, what's the future growth potential for both you and the software? All the previous factors can arguably be considered within this. If you're expecting to shortly take on new staff then you need software that can cope, adapt and expand alongside your business.
If you have to improve your own servers or tweak your entire system/network to adapt, will the software transition be smooth? Likewise, you arguably want software near the beginning of its lifespan, but it’s difficult to determine exactly when. If it’s near the end, the provider is reducing its ongoing support and updates, which is bad for your future growth. Too early, and much of this might not be implemented yet. As a suggestion, you can tell a lot of this from the previous history, success and acclaim of the company providing and developing the software in question.