Comprehensive ERP functionalities used to be available only to giant corporations and big-sized businesses. However, no matter the size, each growing business wants to stay relevant and competitive in today’s market. Today, small and mid-size companies can also see how full-fledged ERP solutions make a substantial difference to their bottom line. That’s why an ERP system is a modern necessity, not an option.
Very often, we see how the following scenario unfolds: a company owner or management team decides that it’s time to start using an ERP system. Then, they give a team member a task to lead this project. This person does the most natural thing: asks Google what solutions are available, how much they cost, what they offer, etc. But unfortunately, this way almost never leads to a successful implementation of the system that meets all ERP requirements of a given company. The reason? Some critical steps were skipped. Of course, online research is always part of the process, but internal discussion and project kick-off are vital. Here’s how to set yourself up for success before booking your ERP demos.
Put Together Your ERP Choice Team
Since any ERP system, for example, NetSuite, affects every department in your company, you’ll need input from each group that's going to feel the impact of this change: Finances, Accounting, HR, Sales, Warehouse & Distribution, etc. The best way to getting the most relevant input is to find individuals who not only work for some specific team but also have a deep understanding of how everything works within their department and how changes might affect or interfere with the processes.
Your ERP project team will have certain responsibilities:
- Interviewing system users to define ERP requirements and set goals for the project
- Looking for, comparing, and selecting the solution
- Managing the transition to the chosen system
Evaluate Your Company’s ERP Readiness
Here, you’ll need to look at how ready your company is from two perspectives: business processes and culture. First, let's scrutinize the operational side.
Is there a need for ERP?
If you’re reading this, you probably have a positive answer, but look at this question again. You need to assess your current operations and systems to identify if you have a strong need for an ERP solution. Yes, the first stages of any ERP project are all about questions, but they are essential at this moment.
- Are there any areas where information is falling through the cracks, and your systems are falling short?
- Do you have a solid understanding of your business’s performance? Do you rely on real-time, accurate data to take action?
- Does your team operate efficiently without wasting time on unnecessary manual data entry and dealing with errors?
These questions will help you gain insight into three important areas: visibility, performance, and efficiency. If any of them needs improvement, ERP is your best choice.
Is Your Team Ready to Go ERP?
The human brain is resistant to change. While you might realize that ERP implementation can be a key driver of your company’s growth, if your team is not truly ready, it can be costly to proceed.
How to find out if your company is ready for an ERP system? Again, assessment and evaluation. Run an ERP readiness assessment to check how prepared your business is for such a massive change. If it turns out that you’re not totally ready, channel your efforts into communicating the benefits inside the company. When your team understands why the change is required, it’ll be easier for them to get on board.
Identify Your ERP Project Goals and Requirements
You can’t achieve what you can’t measure. That’s why you need to have clear ERP objectives driven by the overarching goals of your company. The clearer you can define the operation areas that need improvement and the ways you are going to measure success, the better equipped you’ll be to choose the right ERP system to do the job.
Having a clear picture of your goals, you can start building a list of ERP requirements – features and functionality you want to see in your new system, or another way of looking at the requirements is identifying what tasks you want the system to help you complete. To build this list, you’ll need to look at a typical day of your team: how they work, what they need to execute, which processes can become more efficient, what roadblocks your employees face with the current system, etc. Remember that your team consists of people, not robots, and they have unique ways of working with data and interacting with the system.
Define Success Factors
After talking to your team members and building a long list of needs, wants, and requirements, you need to revisit this list with the idea that not all items will be critical to the project success. Now, it’s time to identify the elements that are vital to achieve your goals and filter out the ones that are not critical success factors.
First, look at the actions that have an immediate impact on your cash flow and affect the bottom line. Then, with your selection team, take another look at that shortened list of goals and requirements and try to prioritize them, using a numbering system, for example. This will help you find the deal-breakers when it comes to reviewing available solutions.
Build a List of ERP Vendors
Now that you know what you’re looking for in an ERP solution, you can start searching for market options. First, pick the type of ERP that can bring more value to your business. Generally speaking, there are three types of ERP solutions:
- Off-the-shelf solutions. They have a set of built-in features and can adapt to operations across various industries. Also, they offer maximum flexibility.
- Vertical ERP software. Such products are designed with a specific industry in mind.
- Custom-built ERP. If you need deep, heavy customization (and a budget, let’s be honest), this type is right for you.
Keep in mind that flexibility and scalability are vital when selecting an ERP system. The solution you choose must meet your needs now and in ten years, so try to envision your business growth in as much detail as possible.
Book Your ERP Demos
At this moment, you should have two or three (even one would work) potential solutions. The members of your ERP project team should be ready to attend the demos, so take time to prepare them by going through your business requirements and goals, evaluation guidelines for the solution and the partner, etc.
How Does a Good ERP Demo Look Like?
First and foremost, an ERP demo shouldn’t look like a cookie-cutter walk-through everyone gets. The ERP partner should be prepared to demonstrate how the system will manage to support or streamline a couple of your key business processes and show how the gaps you found in your current operational models will be filled. Besides, it’s best practice to do demos in a live version of the software, so never agree for a PowerPoint “demo.” Remember to ask questions, for example:
How can existing processes be improved? How will this new capability affect my business?
Here, at Flawless Inbound, we can take you through the whole journey from end to end and find answers to all the questions listed above. It’s our job to ensure you choose the right ERP vendor to meet your business requirements and to empower your team with a functional ERP system for years to come. Feel free to contact us today to find the best way to start your digital transformation.