3. Compare solutions
"There are multiple ERP vendors operating globally," explains C.V. Leela Krishnan, project director, SAP practice, Hexaware, an enterprise solution and IT services provider. "Each ERP may not satisfy 100 percent of your organization's requirements."
Therefore, it's important to "prioritize and create a matrix of functionalities required by the business and rank different ERPs with this matrix," he says. By doing so, it will be easier to "choose an ERP that provides the maximum number of required functionalities and also gives the expected ROI."
Adds Jon Duncan, senior director of Product Management, Antenna Software: "Enterprises should consider flexible platforms that ... integrate with other back-end systems to provide workers with critical information while offering a rich mobile experience" (assuming mobility is important to your organization).
Similarly, it's important that the ERP solution is configurable. "Configurability doesn't mean re-coding solutions to suit your needs," explains Tim Garcia, CEO, Apptricity, a customer-service oriented ERP and asset management company. "It means having the ability to change settings within the solution so that it fits your organization like a tailored suit. You should be able to define the user interface and how the information is displayed and what data pops up in certain scenarios."
4. Carefully vet vendors
"When selecting an ERP vendor, do your homework," advises Vajira De Silva, CEO of attune Consulting, a global business and technology solutions provider. "By engaging with industry analysts, user groups and other advisors, and by taking a look at other company installations of the ERP system, you will get a strong indication of the vendor's true strengths and weaknesses."
In addition, "Take the time to learn which ERP vendors are staying on the cusp of these trends and are investing in emerging technologies," he says. "It's not enough to solve your business pain points today. The ERP vendor should be able to demonstrate a longer-term growth strategy that can help you stay competitive into the future."
Finally, "ask vendors to provide one or more customer references that share your specialty and business size," says Derek Singleton, the ERP analyst at Software Advice. "When you talk to these references, dig in deep. Ask what challenges they faced with the system; ask how the vendor responded; and ask what they would change about the software if they could."
5. Focus on the essentials
"Avoid shiny object syndrome," warns Hoebler. "Instead of building rich dashboards or automating unwieldy or poorly documented processes, tackle the basics: financials, HR/payroll, supply chain processes and reporting," he says.
"Create a foundation from day one that keeps the business running and forces data standardization. Pie charts and scatter plots look great at board meetings, but not with incorrect data. Establish core processes and data as a foundation for additional functionality and enhancements," he says.
6. Don't go it alone
"Many organizations find that involving outside ERP experts is instrumental in making the ERP initiative successful," explains Steve Litwin, president, Litcom, an IT solutions provider. Just make sure if you do hire a third-party ERP consulting firm that it understands your business and your organizational objectives as well as the ERP system you are deploying.