Not too long ago, in a galaxy far away, we talked about the ERP demo process, and how not to get dazzled by a great demo that really doesn't address any of your needs.
Truly, ERP software selection is in need of a good healthy dose of common sense. Recently, Capterra released the results of their 2013 Software Buying Trends survey and it caught my attention. Why? Because it included some good old fashioned common sense.
Manufacturing is already innovative by necessity, and relies upon technology that other industries have usually never even heard of, much less seen. But has the innovation and technology available blinded some manufacturers to the common sense needs of their business?
So, in the spirit of getting back to the basics and some good old fashioned business decisions, here are some tips when venturing out into the ERP landscape.
1. Make sure your software selection team is actually inclusive of end users. Every department should have a representative on your selection team. Your manufacturing facility is robust and has many moving parts that require different points of view. The software selection team should mirror this.
2. Compare ERP Software on a level playing field. Most of us have heard of Quickbooks, and have even used it, but how many of us have used Timberline, Great Plains, or some other higher end accounting software? Have you even heard of them? The point is, Quickbooks is readily accessible and meets the needs of a small, simple business. Other Accounting packages are highly customizable and more robust. You cannot compare a Quickbooks to one of the higher end packages on any level, and certainly not on price. So when you see the price tag on the ERP packages that you are comparing, make sure they offer the same level of usability. What technology are they built on? How difficult and costly to modify or upgrade? Are they mobile enabled? Social enabled?
3. Create a list. This may actually be the first thing that your software selection team does, and it should be the barometer for the whole process. The key to choosing an ERP system that works for you, is to know the functions that cannot be compromised. ERP software offers a lot of bells and whistles these days, so determining the "must haves" vs. the "could be nice" features are imperative for a positive end result.
4. Don't forget to consider implementation and post implementation process. How many times have you started working in an upgrade to your current system and there have been slight modifications in the software that require major modifications on your end? Considering the process of implementation and your service needs post implementation are other factors that need to be included in the budget. Don't short yourself on these items in order to add a bell or a whistle.
5. Finally, don't demo every ERP package you read about. It is confusing, time consuming, and somewhat pointless. The truth is, you should be able to count on one hand the number of vendors that you are evaluating and inviting in to demo their product. This will not only streamline the process, but will give your ERP selection team adequate time to evaluate the product without being overwhelmed by the choices that have been presented. Demoing too many vendors can often lead to a "hung jury".
So, save yourself some time and money, and rely on a good old fashioned common sense approach to ERP selection.