While there are several features of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that are of great importance, these are the ones I consider to be most important.
Selecting your future ERP system can be a daunting task, and it is not always easy to determine which features really matter and which are of less importance. Having been involved in on several ERP implementations and selections at IFS, here is what I consider the most important features of an ERP:
The whole purpose of an ERP system is to be able to plan and capture business transactions. The results are used for forecasting, accounting and reporting. The ERP does this by mirroring the processes of your company. It is extremely important to check that the out-of-the-box processes included in your future ERP are well aligned with your business. Maybe not perfectly with your current as-is state, but rather with your future state.
To do this evaluation on a detailed level can, of course, be very demanding and difficult to accomplish as part of a selection process. One way to work around this is to look closer at a few specific and critical scenarios. This gives potential vendors a chance to prove their solution where it matters most.
The second step for evaluating functional fit is to speak with companies similar to your own that are currently using this ERP. Not only will this confirm whether their software is a good fit for your company – but will also show whether the ERP vendor is knowledgeable about your business and industry.
Ability to Implement
The perfect ERP will be useless to you if it’s not implemented successfully. By this I mean that the company who takes on the implementation must not only prove knowledge in the software through certified consultants, they must also be able to prove knowledge about your particular industry as well as presence and understanding of the legislation and business practice for the geographies in which the new ERP will support.
Can They Keep Up with Technology & Innovation?
The perfect vendor today is not always the perfect vendor for tomorrow. We have seen many functionally capable products disappear from the market because vendors aren’t able to keep up with new technology and innovation. All companies are affected by mega-trends such as digitalization, corporate social responsibility, globalization and talent management.
To remain competitive, your company needs to develop a strategy on how to turn these challenges into a competitive advantage. Make sure your ERP vendor knows their role in this and that they can provide a credible roadmap moving forward.
Same thing with technology innovations, take for example IoT (Internet of Things), cloud computing and new mobile user interfaces such as smart watches. Can the ERP vendor prove they have a track record for successfully including new innovations for their product to deliver customer value within a reasonable time to market?
Enterprise Resource Planning for Process Manufacturers
There are, of course, additional areas of importance. The total cost of ownership, technology, support and documentation are a few that I believe matter a lot. For process manufacturers like yourself, we have written a comprehensive white paper titled, Software Selection for Process Manufacturing, which you can download to help guide you through the ERP selection process, ensuring you select the one that’s right for you.
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