All medium- to large-scale manufactures will face a tough question at least once every 10 years: How do I choose a new ERP system? We’d love for the answer always to be “Hey, Sage Enterprise Management is perfect for you and Practical Software Solutions should implement it!” — but that’s not feasible or logical.
For manufacturers, choosing a new ERP system isn’t like choosing a new home office accounting system. You can’t go down to your local Staples or Office Depot and compare boxes side by side. You can’t purchase it in a store. And you certainly can’t install a new ERP system from either a disk or a simple download.
When choosing a new ERP system, manufacturers face tough questions: Which software system is right for us? How will I know who to partner with? Are we getting what we truly need?
To help manufacturers solve these issues, Practical Software Solutions offers three pro tips when choosing a new ERP system:
Pro Tip 1: Lay out your goals for implementing a new ERP system
One of our favorite sayings about implementing a new ERP system is “begin with the end in mind.” There must be an end goal to a project of this magnitude or else it becomes a quagmire of results that may hinder a company more than it helps.
Setting goals is one of those things you can’t look up in a manual, or even copy from someone else’s project. Each and every manufacturer has their own reasons for choosing a new ERP system. Sometimes they may be the exact same issues but different reasons for finding a solution.
Writing down a set of goals also will prevent scope creep or setting sights too low. If a manufacturer’s main goal for a new ERP system is to have vast improvements in data visibility throughout their organization, a fully integrated modern system may be the key. A company that sets a goal of modernizing their accounting system may find they need a much less extensive product.
Setting goals as a team also can eliminate “ego-based” items. “I want a new ERP system because my competition/brother’s company/friend at Rotary Club has it” looks really bad against more solid goals like “Improve stock-outs in Warehouse B.”
Pro Tip 2: Create a scorecard to judge new ERP systems
Everyone’s familiar with creating a scorecard to help find the good and the bad of something. Just draw a line down the middle of a paper or a whiteboard and you have a way to map out positives and negatives.
However, we’ve seen manufacturers use black-and-white comparisons when using a scorecard, like features or prices. While comparisons like which ERP system is more expensive may have some baring on a decision, it shouldn’t be the main driver. It has to be more nuanced than that.
We recommend using a pro/con list to get a better view of what solutions will help solve your company’s issues. It also ties in neatly to our first tip. By first setting out goals, your pro/con list can then make sure the pros lead toward choosing the right ERP system to achieve your goals.
With a pro/con list, something like the price of an ERP system becomes one of many instead of the only factor being looked at. One ERP system may have “cost” in the con side, but exceeds all expectations for achieving goals. Another might have “cost” in the pro side, but has many more items on the con side of the ledger.
Pro Tip 3: Choose a partner and publisher wisely
I’ve said before on this blog that modern ERP systems are relatively the same. That’s still true in general. However, if you’ve completed Tip 1 and Tip 2, you’ll notice the slight difference that may push a company toward one publisher over the other. That’s not to say Publisher A is bad and Publisher B is good. Publisher A might have an ERP system that’s the right fit for one company’s needs but not another’s.
Manufacturers also need to look for the right fit for a partner to help implement the new ERP system. Choosing a partner solely because they’re the closest one to your manufacturing plant is as narrow-minded as choosing a new ERP system solely on price. Again, you may choose the nearest partner or the least expensive ERP system, but it shouldn’t be the only basis for a relationship.
Relationship is the key word. There’s a reason why Practical Software Solutions is called a Sage Partner, and not a Sage Vendor or a Sage Implementer. A true partner’s best interest is in a successful, long-term relationship. A relationship allows both sides of the partnership to succeed instead of seeking an edge.
It’s fine to choose a software partner based off how well you (and other employees) get along, how knowledgeable they are, how willing they are to guide everyone through the process, and how willing they are to learn about your company.
By following these three tips, you can find success when you choose your new ERP system.
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