With so many options designed for so many different industries, the process of choosing the right ERP software for YOUR specific business and needs can be overwhelming.
But we’ve got some good news – at DWD Technology Group, we’ve helped hundreds of clients move through the ERP selection process and find software that fits like a glove.
In this article, we’ll share 5 simple steps in our proven process that will match you up with the right technology.
1. Identify Your Unique Processes and Requirements
Some companies make the mistake of focusing too heavily on software features. Instead, we recommend that you start by putting your business first. Gather a group of employees, create an evaluation team, and dedicate time to document all of your critical business processes and related workflow. Then, you’ll map these processes to software features that will allow you to perform them faster and more efficiently.
Gathering input from different departments – from sales and accounting to the warehouse and shipping – will ensure that everyone’s needs are considered. This also helps get the entire company vested in the success of a new ERP solution which can boost enthusiasm and user adoption, while fighting a natural urge to resist change and continue doing things the old way.
2. Create a Detailed Needs Assessment
During the second step of your software search, you’ll create a detailed needs assessment that helps you determine what features and functions you ‘need’ to have versus those you ‘want’ to have in your new ERP software solution. These will align with the critical business processes and operational requirements documented in step 1.
The software needs assessment process helps you narrow the field of potential ERP software candidates based on objectives such as:
- Problems you are experiencing with the current software system
- Functionality that’s critical in the new system (must-haves)
- Number of user licenses needed in the new ERP software (sales, inventory, accounting, reporting, etc.)
- Existing systems that will remain in place and need to be integrated with the new ERP software
- Reports that need to be generated from the new system
- A realistic budget that covers software cost as well as any hardware, training and other project implementation requirements.
Note: Most ERP applications won’t provide everything you need right out of the box. So it’s also important to consider cost and availability of add-ons or customization that might be required.
3. Evaluate Software Solutions
With your documented needs assessment in hand, you are now ready to begin evaluating software solutions that will potentially meet your needs. While many software vendors offer self-running product demos and even limited-time test drives, a critical part of this process are the personalized and detailed demonstrations designed to address your specific needs and questions.
Key things to expect during a personal software demonstration include:
- An in-depth product walk through that’s more than just a high level demo of the software’s bells and whistles.
- A reputable reseller or authorized partner will provide input about both the strengths and weaknesses of the ERP application as it relates to your specific business or industry.
- A demo that lasts 2 or more hours depending on the complexity of your business and the level of functionality you require.
Keep in mind that it’s important to consider whether a potential ERP solution will not only meet your needs today, but can scale up and expand if your business grows over the next several years.
4. Choosing the Software and Provider
It’s the moment of truth and perhaps the most nerve-racking part of your software selection process: choosing the one ERP solution that you think is the best fit based on overall needs, match, capability, and budget.
By now, you’ll probably have formal proposals from several potential technology providers. If you are evaluating multiple software solutions, be sure you compare apples to apples as it relates to the total cost of ownership – not just software cost.
Costs that should be included on a formal proposal include, software, implementation and setup, training, ongoing support, and software maintenance fees which include future updates and upgrades from the vendor.
It’s also important to evaluate the reputation and stability of both the software publisher (i.e. Sage, Acumatica) and the authorized partner (i.e. DWD Technology Group) that will implement the solution. This ensures that the ERP product will continue to receive R & D investment and improve as technology changes (from the vendor) and that you’re working with a reliable partner that can provide continuity and responsive, personalized support when needed.
Note: ERP software is only as good as the company that implements it. So, don’t overlook the importance of choosing the right implementation partner – which is most often the one that spent the most time and effort to understand your business and address your specific requirements during the evaluation and demo process.
5. Software Implementation and Go-Live
Behind every successful software implementation is a sequence of documented steps and milestones that guide the process. Working with an experienced software partner that has developed and refined a time-tested project implementation methodology is critically-important.
Here are some of the major steps to consider during a typical ERP implementation:
- Kick-off meeting
- Procedure and software setup meetings
- Data conversion
- System testing & practice
- Ongoing support
Choosing the ERP solution that can transform your business is a big decision. But if you document your needs, break the process down, and follow our 5 simple steps, you’ll put yourself on the path to choosing ERP software that’s the best fit for your business.
Remember you aren’t in it alone – all you need to do is contact DWD Technology Group for guidance and support throughout the process and gain the confidence and experience you need to make the right choice.