If you’re managing a small business, there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing the best ERP system to manage your operational business processes and finances. Small businesses, from a few, up to 50 employees, can learn, use, and enjoy the value-added benefits of an ERP. Gone are the days of complex and costly systems once designed for large-size companies only. Today, any small business that’s on the rise, and primed and ready to forge ahead, can generate measurable value from an ERP system.
But just where and how do you jumpstart the selection process? Let’s take a look at what you need to know to make “smart” choices, from the get-go, and select the best ERP that meets the needs of your small, but growing business.
An important note: This article is intended for general information purposes only. Priority ERP is not recommended for small-size businesses, such as small retailers/shop owners, service providers, etc.
As your small businesses expands its operations, takes on additional employees, and generates more sales, chances are, you’ll find that you’ve outgrown your manual processes – and your legacy systems. While you may be familiar with the “ins and outs” of ERP, choosing an ERP system is no easy feat. That’s because there are numerous options to choose from, all varying types and sizes, and lots of different options available for each and every system.
While the “shopping spree” can be arduous, it’s essential that you do your due diligence – and do your homework, first. If you’re turning your attention to ERP and considering implementing an ERP system in your organization, determining and carefully assessing all of the relevant options, is your first order of business.
1- Find out what’s out there. When you’re ready to take the plunge, you first need to research the market to better understand what your options are, in terms of features, functionality, and price. While reams of information are available on ERP software providers’ websites, it’s easy to get lost in the technical and marketing jargon, but you can still get a good overview of their product offering. Check out software review websites. Super helpful, you can read about the various vendors, what they’re selling, what their customers have to say, and even compare functionality and price amongst leading competitors.
2- What does your business really need? To answer this question, you’ll need to draw up a detailed list of your “real” business requirements – what you need today, and what you expect/anticipate for the future, as your business grows. Compare your list to the various ERP vendor offerings, and determine who measures up, best. Discuss your actual business needs with other managers, such as R&D, Sales, and Accounting, to gain insights on efficiency and productivity, that will help you create a shortlist of viable contenders.
3- Ode to the RFP. Many ERP vendors will help you create your list of requirements, and provide you with a Request for Proposal (RFP) template. The RFP will typically include a list of features and functionality for the ERP system you’re interested in. It’s a practical, useful and very helpful tool for you to understand just who your prospective vendor is, and what they have to offer. Once you have your current (and future!) needs clearly presented, you can use this RFP to assess the strengths and capabilities other vendors as well.
4- Dollars and “Sense.” Without question, the cost of an ERP system is a key determining factor. Since small businesses typically have limited IT budgets, it’s important to understand the various pricing models available (and there are many!). As a small business, you may want to consider cloud-based ERP over an on-premise system that requires extensive hardware and related infrastructure costs. Cloud ERP offers lower capital requirements to access innovation, better and faster scalability, and automatic upgrades. Bottom line? You’ll be able to trim your operational expenses with dramatically shorter deployment time, and achieve faster ROI.
5- It’s time to choose. When you’re ready to move forward, with a detailed list of requirements and costs, you can draft a shortlist of potential ERP vendors. But you’re not done yet. You’ll want to ask each of your prospective vendors to demo the system for you, so that you can see, first-hand, what you’re about to purchase (or not). Be sure to provide a “demo script,” to view your business’s actual use case in action. You’ll also want to ask colleagues and peers, if available, which ERP systems they use, and if they’re satisfied, both with the software itself, and with the vendor’s post-sales support and service. Lastly, request a list of reference customers – and contact them!
Long before you make a commitment to an ERP vendor, make sure that all of your questions and concerns are addressed – and answered.
This is an important milestone for you and your business. While the purchasing process may well be smooth, keep in mind that any new software system will have its fair share of glitches, downtime, and headaches. Remember that your newly-purchased ERP system is in place to help you manage, control, and grow your business, and your bottom line. Good luck!