Around the world in today’s volatile market, businesses are looking for anything that can help them gain an edge. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are one thing that continues to help companies of all sizes run more smoothly and stay competitive. ERP helps organizations manage business processes, provide better customer service, and improve overall efficiency. Not just any ERP will do though, it’s essential to select the right ERP system that suits your company’s needs before implementing it in order to avoid wasting time and money on a system that won’t be the best fit for your business. To help you choose the right ERP solution, there are some important factors to consider when selecting an ERP system for your small business.
Why Is ERP So Important for Small Businesses?
Enterprise resource planning refers to any centralized system a company uses to manage all its activities and data; however, there are two distinct kinds of ERP: operational and customer relationship management (CRM). CRM focuses solely on sales and marketing while operational involves financial management. An enterprise resource planning system involves processes such as customer information management, inventory control, and accounting integration—all of which are vital components of successfully running a business. Without a modern ERP in place, your organization could be doing everything manually, with separate silos of information performing at less than optimal levels. For many, this is an ongoing issue simply because it’s the way it’s always been done, but that’s no reason to leave efficiency on the table.
Finding the Right ERP Solution
Choosing your ERP system is one of, if not the most important decisions a small business owner can make. Figuring out what you need ahead of time can help clarify the situation, but where do you even start? When searching for new enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, there are many things to consider. However, making a decision may be easier than you think if you follow three simple tips:
1. Determine what it will cost
Before spending hours going through demos or testing different products, it’s important to determine how much purchasing and implementing a new ERP system will cost your business in both time and money. If you aren’t ready to pull out your checkbook, speak with others who have implemented similar solutions and see how long they took; consult with them about their experiences as well. If they were happy with their product, they might even be willing to give feedback on which solution was best for them.
Once you know approximately how much it will cost upfront, then begin looking at pricing models and payment options. Depending on your size and industry, customizing an off-the-shelf system might also be possible. This will depend greatly on what kind of customizations you need to make. While cost isn’t everything when making a buying decision, knowing upfront exactly how much something costs can help narrow down your decision considerably.
2. Compare functions offered by various systems
Along with comparing prices from different vendors offering similar solutions, it’s also necessary to compare functionality across multiple platforms and systems. In fact, there’s no guarantee that simply selecting the cheapest option will provide all of the features you require. First, write down what each potential platform must do to meet your company’s needs. With that list compiled and prioritized based on necessity vs. want, sit down with two sheets of paper next to each other; on one side will be your ideal requirements, while the other side should include all of your current vendors. The goal here is to first identify gaps in offerings from certain providers and then attempt to fill those gaps from another vendor (s).
3. Confirm security and compliance
It’s not only important to confirm that an ERP solution meets all of your technical and non-technical wants, it’s also important to confirm that a system will meet federal regulations, local laws, and internal policies. One way to accomplish that is by confirming that a system has been reviewed and approved by your IT department, legal counsel, and/or auditors. When you’re evaluating solutions, ask plenty of questions regarding security and compliance standards. Another way to make sure a system is compatible with your business policies and standards is to run a proof-of-concept test. Either way, knowing that there are solutions on top of solutions helps put you at ease when choosing a new ERP provider for your business.
Regardless of the industry you serve, choosing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is guaranteed to be no easy task. There are a number of solutions available with have a wide range of options and price points available, so figuring out what’s right for your business can seem like a daunting process. With a little understanding of the process, along with adequate research into what solutions will work best for you, you’ll be able to find the right ERP for your specific business needs.