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What to Look for When Exploring ERPs

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  • With so many factors to consider and options to choose, finding the right ERP for your business can often feel overwhelming
  • But by knowing what to ask vendors when considering systems, companies can arrive at a list of potential candidates far easier
  • When considering possible ERPs, focusing on the five must-have qualities detailed below can be a great start to determining what solution best suits your organization

From name brand solutions aimed at every sector to industry-specific systems designed to address specific challenges, there’s no shortage of ERPs on the market. Determining which one is the best fit for your organization requires significant research and comparison as no two solutions are completely alike.

Despite such variance, there are five core traits that any ERP worth considering should possess. Detailed below, these must-have qualities can be used to narrow down an overwhelming number of options to a manageable list of candidates.

Must-Have #1: The Capacity to Support Your Specific Industry

Many of the most recognizable ERPs were initially developed to serve manufacturing and retail businesses. As a result, they excel at processes at the core to those sectors, but often struggle with complexities commonly found in other industries. For example, rental businesses factor in time when calculating charges. This seemingly small distinction poses serious difficulties for otherwise competent ERPs since they weren’t intended to consider that detail. Because of this, when in the market for an ERP, stakeholders would be well-advised to scrutinize how potential solutions handle the finer points of their processes.

When evaluating an ERP’s capacity to support your industry, consider asking vendors:

  • How many companies within my industry use your solution?
  • How does your solution handle workflows unique to my industry/organization?
  • Can you provide a reference from another customer belonging to my industry?

Must-Have #2: Robust Mobile Capabilities

These days, tethering ERP access to a desktop or laptop simply doesn’t cut it. If you are in the equipment rental or construction space, a large portion of your personnel spend much of their day far away from any computer. By not digitizing the entirety of your operations, your teams can only reach a fraction of their full potential efficiency.

That’s why mobility should be a top concern of anyone looking to implement a new ERP. Solutions optimized for tablets and smartphones deliver information to anyone in your organization who requires it, wherever they work.

When evaluating an ERP’s mobility, consider asking vendors:

  • Are your mobile-optimized solutions web applications or downloaded via an app store?
  • Are there any hardware requirements associated with your mobile solutions?
  • How often do your mobile solutions receive new releases?

[T]o get the most out of any ERP, it needs to be integrated with the tools an organization intends to use alongside it. If those integrations aren’t immediately available, they’ll need to be established during implementation, further complicating an already challenging process.

Must-Have #3: Exceptional Support

No matter how feature-rich, easy-to-use, or powerful an ERP is, if its vendor fails to provide adequate customer care, using it will almost always be fraught with difficulties. Conversely, being supported by experienced professionals during implementation and after go-live can make the transition to a new system a (relatively) snag-free process.

But beyond assistance with technical matters, the best vendors help their customers use their solutions to the fullest so that the organizations that user their ERPs can achieve their business goals. Through regular meetings, dedicated customer success managers review metrics with stakeholders, collect feedback, and provide suggestions to help customers get the most out of their software investments.

When evaluating an ERP vendor’s ability to provide support, consider asking vendors:

  • What does a typical service-level agreement from you entail?
  • Can you share any metrics representative of your support team’s efficacy?
  • Can you provide a customer reference willing to discuss the support you provide?

Must-Have #4: Active Development

You might be surprised to learn that, perhaps due to a lack of direct competitors, several ERP systems created to serve specific niche industries don’t receive regular updates. As a result, the companies who rely on these solutions are forced to either develop workarounds to any shortcomings of the platform or fund their own development.

Fortunately, most ERP providers actively develop their solutions, adding new features and enhancing existing functionalities. The best among them leverage the feedback they receive from their customers to prioritize their product roadmap items. This approach helps ensure that the needs of end-users are addressed as efficiently as possible.

When evaluating an ERP’s development status, consider asking vendors:

  • How frequently does your solution receive new releases?
  • How do your product managers prioritize their roadmap items?
  • How are the enhancements included in new releases explained to your customers?

Must-Have #5: Ample Integrations

Just about every business relies on a combination of software solutions (provided by different vendors) to power its operations. As a result, to get the most out of any ERP, it needs to be integrated with the tools an organization intends to use alongside it. If those integrations aren’t immediately available, they’ll need to be established during implementation, further complicating an already challenging process.

Fortunately, such headaches can be avoided by going with a system that has all (or most of) the integrations your company needs right out of the box.

When evaluating an ERP’s integrations, consider asking vendors:

  • Is your solution already integrated with the other solutions my organization uses?
  • How intensive would it be to establish a new integration with your solution?
  • Has your solution been integrated with any IoT devices?

To learn about Wynne Systems’ ERP solutions, reach out to us here.

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