What You Need to Know Before Buying ERP

By Jelani Harper
Updated: August 24, 2011

One of the most prudent things which behooves a business to be aware of before purchasing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is that while such products have the potential to streamline processes and maximize efficiency by coordinating an organization’s disparate elements, they are no replacement for poor planning and ineffectual business strategy. Such systems only improve the efficacy of a particular enterprise when they are well-researched, thought out, and implemented in a manner that will make an organization as competitive as possible.

Vendor Selection

Although there are several different criteria to consider when selecting a vendor, the selection process that is ideal involves having a vendor bring in its trainer, and not sales representative, for a live demonstration of components which are as similar to an enterprise as possible. This way, organizations will be able to simulate their product while talking to a trainer who will be of continual use to a company, as opposed to a sales rep who is trying to expedite the sales process. Expect to pay for a trainer’s time, however, as any other company (which has previously purchased the vendor’s ERP) has already done.

Vendor Selection Team

Additionally, to determine the most advantageous EPR vendor it becomes necessary to have a team of as many employees, ideally from each of the respective departments that will be incorporated into the ERP, as possible to voice the respective needs of the separate entities which the ERP solution will link. The involvement of these various employees will help organizations ascertain the full amount of benefits, features, and potential costs that such a system will enable. This team should be headed by a selection manager who acts as an intermediary between the vendor and the prospective enterprise.

Module Selection

In order to discern which particular modules will most effectively streamline the business processes of a particular company, it is oftentimes useful to sample the historical data of particular software functions to realize which functions of the ERM solution will grant the most readily accessible and important data. This method allows organizations to gain a degree of insight into the many modules and sub-modules and their specific forms and functions.

Utilitarian Concerns

Standard utilitarian concerns for an ERP system include ease of use, integration/implementation time to get the system operating, quality of literature and training regarding the product, as well as scalability and potential for growth. All of these factors should be researched with a particular vendor to determine if its product will truly be useful in a timely manner.

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