How To Do an ERP Comparison

By Neil Zawacki
Updated: September 14, 2011

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solutions have become an important part of many small businesses. The software allows a company to integrate important management information and automate a wide variety of financial, sales and CRM processes. It can be somewhat tricky to choose a solution, however, since there are so many different vendors available.

You should consider the following factors when comparing ERP solutions:

1) Money saved

ERP solutions can dramatically lower operational and administrative costs at a small business. For the most part, you should look for an ERP solution that will lower your company’s annual IT costs by 70 percent or more.

2) Speed of the system

Different ERP solutions operate at different speeds. Some ERP systems will provide near instantaneous access to information while others will take several seconds for the data to be processed. You will probably need to demo the software in order to get a true idea of how fast the ERP system is.

3) Features available

Most ERP solutions come with the same basic features (inventory management, cash-flow management, project data management) Many of them offer special functionalities that may be useful at your small business, however. Check to see which ERP vendors offer the features you want and which ones don’t.

4) Scalability

ERP solutions often need to be upsized or downsized as the number of employees changes at a company. You should therefore see which ERP solutions can be quickly scaled in either direction. You may want to check into the ease of diversification as well if you plan to invest in multiple assets.

5) Time of implementation

An ERP solution doesn’t have to take several weeks to implement at a company. Go to the different vendor’s websites and read the projected estimates for how long it will take for the ERP solution to be up and running. If you don’t immediately need the ERP solution, this factor can be set at a lower priority level.

6) Efficiency

Your employees are going to waste a lot of time if you purchase an inefficient ERP solution. You should look for an ERP system that streamlines the basic processes and doesn’t require the same information to be entered multiple times.

7) Price of system

This is obviously an important factor when comparing ERP solutions. You should keep in mind that the initial price tag may not reflect the overall cost of the system, however. You also need to factor in maintenance, support, and updates to the software. If an ERP solution offers any of these for free, they could turn out to be a better deal than an ERP solution that costs a little bit less.

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