So you’ve explored your options, looked at what’s trending and evaluated the general needs of your business, and you’ve now made a decision: it’s time to implement a new ERP system for your organisation. But the choice of which one to go with is not straightforward, as there is no single answer to which solution is the ‘best’.
You need to choose between on-premise and SaaS, smaller brands or big-name vendors, industry-specific packages or more general solutions. It’s little surprise that companies frequently become stuck at the stage of ERP system selection when faced with so many questions.
This is why it is very important to work with a good implementation partner. These companies have worked with many organisations to help translate business needs into a successful ERP deployment and many will have tried-and-tested processes for advising on systems that would be a good fit. As experts in this particular field, let us break down the ERP selection process to help you with finding the right ERP software for your needs.
Step 1: Discovery
Before you think about anything else, you have a single fundamental question to answer: what functional elements need to be accomplished by your new ERP system? Do you require a system that improves order processing? Are foreign currency exchange gains and losses a priority? What about the optimisation of various account functions?
As part of your due diligence, you should compose a list of all the functional possibilities that might be achievable with the ERP system of your dreams. This process needs to be carried out collaboratively with input from all the teams and departments that will be using the new system. As you discover more cross departmental functions, your list is likely to become more comprehensive, so devote the time needed to ensure this process analyses all the right needs and involves everyone it should.
- Carry out interviews with teams and individuals.
- Review current accounting policies.
- Understand the current usage of reporting packages.
- Evaluate the data flows behind existing processes.
- Consider where you see your future and consider scalability requirements.
Understand that Discovery is the most fundamental step in the process of ERP selection. It is impossible to overstate the importance of ensuring you involve the right stakeholders at this point, as this will enable you to accurately identify the full range of needs your company has. The more thorough you are at this stage, the more boxes your ERP system will tick once it is deployed.
It’s prudent at this stage to create an implementation team, consisting of various members of your organisation who will see the project through to the end. You can learn more about what this team should look like in our article Building an ERP Implementation Team.
Step 2: The Business Requirements Document
Once all the research for Step 1 has been carried out, you will have collected a vast amount of data across all business areas. Your next job is to compile it all into a business requirements document. It’s important to include all the critical functions you determined in the previous step along with all the non-functional things you wish to achieve.
Have you done some research into vendors to assess how financially stable they are? Do you know which vendors are reputed to offer a high level of service? These considerations don’t relate to the features and functions of the ERP, but their relevance to your selection process is undeniable so it is wise to document them formally.
Once you have compiled the document, review it with key stakeholders to order each item in terms of priority. This step will be useful when you reach the point of comparing two or more packages that look relatively similar on the surface. It will enable you to identify functions that rank more highly in your list of priorities to differentiate between packages.
Step 3: The Initial Selection
After your internal needs are established, you are ready to compose a list of viable options. To do this, you will need to conduct quite a lot of exploratory research that may take a few weeks or more. During this time, it might be helpful to set up calls or in-person meetings to share information and explore the needs you established as high-priority.
Your list of ERP goals should be your compass here, and it will enable you to eliminate certain vendors that simply don’t deliver what you need. The objective of Step 3 is to zero in on two or three vendors that you would like to explore in further detail.
Step 4: Product Demos
Once you have your sights on a handful of vendors, you are ready to take a deep dive with product demos. These demonstrations typically last 2-3 hours. In the lead-up to the demonstration, vendors commonly work with your company to highlight the business functions that you are most interested in exploring. For a demo to be well-run, it should be built around your business and the industry it operates in – this will give you a strong sense of what the software might be able to do for your daily operations.
Once the demo is over, discuss and assess with your team. Do you see any challenges the software might present? How well does it address your main priorities? Are there functions you would like to see again? In most cases, a second demo is a good recommendation to ensure you can broach any lingering concerns or questions. When only two vendors are under consideration, a second demo can help bring some clarity.
Be sure to check references at this point. Most vendors will supply these for you, but you should also conduct some independent research.
Step 5: The Decision
When you reach this step, you deserve a pat on the back. You have done the hardest work in the ERP selection process and all that extensive research is now behind you. Any lingering uncertainty can be helped by making up a scorecard for the team with line-itemed business requirements like the things listed in Step 2.
Have all the stakeholders give a rating for each line item then summarise the results to establish a winner.
The ERP Selection Process Summarised
- Step 1: Discovery – the fundamental step of taking an honest look at your business and identifying all the functionality you will need from a new ERP system.
- Step 2: The Business Requirements Document – compile all the information you gather from Step 1 into a formal document and include non-functional needs from the vendor.
- Step 3: The Initial Selection – explore the options for vendors and platforms and try to narrow it down to a list of two or three potential choices.
- Step 4: Product Demos – engage the vendors from your shortlist to demo their products for you then evaluate everything with your team.
- Step 5: The Decision – make your final selection. If necessary, work with your team to complete a scorecard that assesses how well the options meet your high-priority requirements.
There is a lot of research and due diligence involved in the ERP selection process. It’s important that you don’t take shortcuts at any point and don’t neglect the importance of involving everyone who will be using the new system. The final step may be the fastest one, but you then move on to the complex and critical process of implementation.
If you’d like to learn more about ERP implementation, please read our informative article ERP Implementation – A Step by Step Guide.
The 5 steps listed in this article are a good starting point, but you will benefit from bespoke, expert advice along the way. A good ERP implementation partner can provide consultation on this to give you some guidance as you progress through the selection process, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of their expertise.
Why choose Eventura as your ERP implementation partner?
Eventura has been providing robust business solutions to countless organizations for over two decades. We are ERP experts and can identify all of your business needs, and deliver a comprehensive ERP solution that works for you.
As Sage 200 Partners and NetSuite Solution Providers, we can help you identify which solution will fit your business needs the best. Our expert team of business analysts, developers, consultants, technicians and support staff can guide you through your entire project, from initial scoping through to implementation and on-going support.
We’re also managed IT service providers meaning we can help you identify your entire IT infrastructure requirements from day one. If you would like to speak to one of our ERP experts, you can request a free call back here.