Conducting an ERP software selection and evaluation can be a difficult task. Here we apply our 30+ years in helping businesses with IT technology and software with our top tips for selecting an ERP software, broken into 3 parts.
Part 1: ERP Software Project Support and Naming a Champion
Major technology changes always start at the top of an organization -- CEO's and company Presidents should have approved an ERP project before you begin. You’ll also want to name a project champion who will head the selection and evaluation project.
For timing and investment, work with your CFO to establish a rough idea of budget and decide the fiscal year in which the investment will be made. Sometimes a capital purchase will have tax advantages, and they will be in the best position to explore them.
Decide when you want to go "live" on your new ERP software, and working backwards determine when you'll need to make a final software decision. You can use the following timelines as a minimum guide:
Allow 2 months for selection, evaluation and final decision
Allow 2 weeks for establishing financing
Allow 3 months for software installation, process reviews, implementation and prototype
Allow 2 weeks for final configuration and training
Conduct an analysis on the current software in use within your company, the number of users you will need and gather all major functionality required. Document as you go, as this will be helpful when working with a software partner. Much of the functionality your business needs is already covered with ERP software incorporating best practices, so your analysis doesn’t need to cover the basics. Focus on your top priorities, and the things that make your business process unique.
Determine priority of requirements and functionality, and have a rough idea of what needs to be in phase 1, and what can be put into a phase 2 and covered later. It makes sense that you’ll want to cover business basics such as accounting first before undertaking advanced applications.
Part 2: ERP Software Selection and Evaluation using F-A-S-T
Prepare a list of eligible, qualified software and partners. Contact these partners and be prepared to answer basic questions about your business, your current technology infrastructure and your future requirements. Most will conduct an onsite discovery call to learn more about your business. We break down ERP software selection into our F-A-S-T methodology:
Facts: Document your top software requirements, user definitions and gather estimated cost
Apples-to-Apples: Prepare an apples-to-apples comparison of all software prices, implementation strategies and partners. Establish ROI.
Strategy: Have a clear strategy for implementation success
Technology: Understand the IT infrastructure and environment including hardware requirements, user definitions and gather estimated cost
Getting a demo of the ERP software helps understand how it works, and the process flow across business departments and functions. Of course, you can review product videos in advance to get a sense of software look and feel, as well as the modules included. For a custom demo to your team, establish the right audience for a product demonstration, including major department heads and senior management. Plan on a couple hours for an adequate demo.
Part 3: Final Decision and Implementation Kickoff
For the final decision on the ERP software, start by trimming the list of qualified providers to your final 2, or final choice. Perform one or two reference calls, or review published case studies of similar customers in your industry.
- Make a final decision on ERP software and partner.
- Work with partner to obtain a final proposal and end user license agreement
- Establish hardware or cloud hosting environment
- Schedule an implementation kick-off meeting to start the ERP implementation project
Summary of How To Select ERP Software
A methodical, analytical approach is the best way to make an educated decision about automating all or portions of your company with ERP software.
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