As companies become increasingly complex, finding an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that meets all needs may be as likely as finding a unicorn. Indeed, in today's global mobile environment, organizations are looking for an ERP system that does more than integrate with a legacy system.
However, with so many solutions on the market, how do you choose the software system that's right for your enterprise, that your different business groups will actually use?
To help you increase your odds of finding and deploying an ERP solution that will benefit your organization (and to help you cut through all the marketing hype), CIO.com queried dozens of ERP experts. Their top 11 suggestions on how to choose and deploy an ERP system successfully appear below.
1. Document business objectives and come up with an implementation and support plan
"Successful implementations are all based on a well-assessed and scoped out business problem," explains Bernd Weidenmueller, vice president, ERP, Avanade, which provides enterprise business technology solutions and managed services.
"The better the business problem is defined the more likely it is that the ERP system can address the problem," he says. Make the challenges you want the software to solve "as specific and as measurable as possible and tie them to your company's overall objectives."
"Gather a list of your most mission-critical requirements, including functional; workflow; systems integration; governance, risk and compliance (GRC); data migration/conversion; business intelligence and reporting; and training," says Greg Pierce, vice president of Concerto Cloud Services, Tribridge, a CRM, ERP and IT services consulting firm.
Next, he says, "define your implementation approach and timeframe. How complex will your data migration/conversion be? Are you looking to migrate summary vs. transaction detail? How 'clean' is your data today? Are you looking to get started with a core group of functions and expand functionality down the road?"
And don't forget about your IT team when selecting a solution. "Do you have a well-defined ERP IT plan?" he asks. "What IT skills do you have in-house today versus skills you need help with?" By answering these questions, you will have a much better handle on what you need in an ERP system and be better positioned for success.
2. Decide on a delivery model
"Ask yourself 'What ERP delivery model is right for my company?' says John Hoebler, managing director, MorganFranklin Consulting. "The three primary options are on-premise ERP, hosted/managed service ERP and cloud ERP solutions," he says.
"Traditionally, on-premise and hosted ERP solutions provide the most flexibility to tailor packages to meet organizational needs, but they're also costly. Feature-rich cloud ERP solutions with robust development tools are rapidly emerging." But before you invest in a cloud-based solution, make sure it meets your needs and that your data will be safe (properly backed up and secured), he says.