If you are currently considering implementing an ERP (or a Manufacturing, Inventory) solution within your business, you will most likely have many questions and have been presented with a host of options by a variety of vendors, but are you sure you are ready to make the quantum leap?
What you may not be aware of is the areas that many vendors and resellers avoid or skirt around as they present hurdles in terms of their sales cycle, these are areas that you should not only be aware of but you should actively plan for. They may include:
So, you been through the demos and the proposals and you have chosen a vendor that suits your requirements, that is great, but do you have a project plan or at the very least project milestones that can be measured in terms of deliverables and sign off points? If you are a small or medium business, not having a clear path forward can be a major drain on your resources and will impact all areas of your business so make sure that you have a detailed plan of attack that can assessed and modified to reflect any potential change management issues.
Implementing software into your business will have an impact, make sure is it a positive one from the outset, if you doubts, make sure you address them now!
When implementing an ERP, Make sure that you are very clear when it comes to your business objectives and future goals and that the solution you purchase provides only what you need so you don’t overcomplicate things. An expensive solution does not always mean that it will be more effective in your business, nor does a feature rich system when you only have basic requirements and workflows, but plan ahead and ensure that you can upgrade as if you need to purchase another system down the track the whole process will need to be navigated again!
OK, always a sensitive point and rightly so as implementation of any software system that is not a perfect fit for your business can result in spiralling costs in terms of customisation, implementation and endless training, not to mention stretching your resources and reducing productivity. On the other hand you don’t want a quote that is light on the upfront costs as it is imperative that your selected vendor understands your needs and spends enough time implementing and training as it will reap instant rewards in terms of productivity.
Budget can be a bit of a balancing act when implementing an ERP and it may pay off to separate the costs and run with estimates in terms of scoping and implementation based on day rates or maybe even pre purchase a block of time which can save money if your vendor offers this option. Ensuring that your proposal includes all costs, time frames and payment terms will allow you to budget in terms of cost and time and may also assist your cash flow, you can always ask a vendor if they would be prepared to offer extended payment terms as some may entertain this as an option to secure your business. Remember that many vendors utilise business partners or resellers and to a great extent they make a living from service related fees so you need to be able to fix the costs as much as is possible. Other options worth considering are subscription models, outright purchase or even finance for your software purchase, yes it is an option although there may not be too many finance companies that will finance software and services.
So many projects hit a barrier when it comes to API’s or integration requirements with 3rd party software vendors, it pays to work with companies that really understand the software and it’s capabilities and have carried out integrations previously or use restful API’s. On the data migration side, it really depends where your data is now and in what format it can be supplied. The usual is .csv or Access/Excel format and most systems allow the import of data via these file extension types. When implementing an ERP, you need to bear in mind though is that it is well worth considering a data cleansing exercise before migrating your data into the new system and whether the vendor has costed data migration into their proposal. This is the perfect opportunity to ensure that the data you have been working with for years is de-duped and any incorrect or orphaned records removed. As they say data in data out, its all about the quality of the data!