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ERP Evaluation: How to Choose the Right ERP for You

Topics: Distribution, ERP, Manufacturing, ERP Evaluation

Posted on Jun 10, 2014 9:00:00 AM by Exact Macola

Now that you’ve decided to upgrade from your pen-and-paper or QuickBooks-based system, how do you choose the right ERP solution for you? 

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Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is designed to enhance your business, but not every business is the same. To ensure that you select the right ERP software to obtain the maximum benefits and return on investment for your manufacturing or distribution business, a thorough ERP evaluation process is key.What do you need from your ERP solution?

Your business is unique and so are your needs. The best way to choose the right ERP system is to first have a thorough, holistic knowledge of your business, how it currently works and how you want it to work. Before beginning the ERP evaluation process, obtain input from each of your departments to understand the needs, challenges and processes of information flow. Once you have an idea of what you want from your software, you’ll be better prepared to evaluate the solutions that ERP vendors have to offer, and decide which ones work best for your manufacturing or distribution business.

Many organizations within manufacturing and distribution benefit from ERP solutions with options that include:

  • Planning and scheduling
  • Integrated CRM
  • Warehouse Management System (WMS)
  • Labor tracking
  • eCommerce solutions
  • Business activity monitoring
  • Real-time and secure document sharing

Also look for ERP software that has the capacity to grow and change with your business, and works with your current infrastructure.

 

Additional ERP evaluation considerations

It is common to go through a time period of adjustment when transitioning from one system to another. One of the best ways to ease the transition is through ERP training. When going through the ERP evaluation process, you’re not only evaluating the software, but the resources that go along with it. Ease of communication, flexible training options and staff expertise are critical characteristics that your ERP vendor should provide for you. Your ERP evaluation should include evaluation of:

  • Full training and live support for all features
  • Ease of extracting data
  • Ease of report writing
  • Ability to customize

 

Take a closer look

When you’re comfortable with your level of knowledge regarding your business’s processes and needs as well as the qualifications of prospective ERP vendors and their software, it’s time to take a closer look at the solutions.

Many ERP vendors offer resources such as webinars, demos and customer references which speak to the usability of the solutions and the ways in which the companies do business. Do your due diligence by attending webinars and scheduling personal demonstrations of the software. Often, you can also request to speak with a vendor’s current customer, who may have had business needs and challenges similar to yours.

Your ERP software should provide you with a long-term solution that will continue to work for you for years to come. As the aforementioned are only some of the ways in which you can evaluate ERP solutions, it’s a good idea to continue to research, research, research, and use all of the resources at your disposal when choosing the ERP that’s right for you. And when you do find that ERP that’s just right, you’ll likely wonder why you didn’t start the process sooner!

    
The ERP Blog covers the impact of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), business software and accounting solutions on organizations in the manufacturing and distribution industries.

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