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How Do I Choose the Right ERP System for My Business?

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Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a sophisticated software package that allows a business to integrate the many aspects of the processes of the company. The main aims are to improve communication across the departments and with any satellite offices, to increase cost-effectiveness and to boost overall efficiency and productivity.

Using ERP, data that is inputted into a company's system is always current and decision-makers can quickly access it. This is particularly relevant when it comes to financial control, as the accounts department will have a constant and up to date overview of the company's financial position. Stock control and ordering efficiency is also enhanced with the use of ERP.

A large number of ERP software packages are available, but choosing the correct one to suit specific needs can be difficult. Selecting an ERP system for a company should not be undertaken lightly or without comprehensive information about the system being studied. There are also different packages available from providers at various costs. Expenditure must be justified and has to show a return, either in overall cost savings or profits. The main questions to ask are – how will it save money or how will it help to make money? It is therefore essential to determine exactly the distinct advantages the company would have by using one system rather than another.

Steps in Selecting the Right ERP System

Choosing the right ERP system for a business should begin with self-evaluation. A process review and analysis of all current business processes, strengths and weaknesses, should be completed first. A projection of the desired outcome of utilizing ERP should also be included, as well as what will be required for the business to achieve those goals.

In addition, a business owner will need to determine the software that best fits the business' current technology infrastructure. The cost of implementation and use will also need to be evaluated. These will help to narrow the field of ERP software and system possibilities.

Implementing ERP

The actual steps of implementation should be carefully planned beforehand. Developing a comprehensive plan for implementing the ERP software into the company, including initial installation, testing and usage by employees, should be completely planned out before actually deciding on particular ERP software. A thorough implementation plan will include allowances for multiple test iteration, activities for management of key organizational changes, workflow design and data migration.

Staff Training

As with any major changes in daily working practices, training of staff is going to be essential if things are going to proceed without serious problems. This will incur a cost of course and there will be the inevitable bedding-in period whilst staff members become familiar with the new procedures.

Costs and Benefits

Now is the time to estimate the cost benefits and other potential advantages of implementing particular ERP software. Most companies choose to utilize an ERP system as a means to reduce business costs, increase revenue, and otherwise improve the productivity and success of the business. These are areas that should be analysed and measured in order to determine which ERP software is the best for an individual business.

Upon full implementation of ERP, some businesses decide they no longer have any need for an IT department. This creates a major saving in staff costs, thus helping with the expenditure on the ERP service. Any hardware problems can be outsourced and, if the ERP is cloud based, then software problems are quickly resolved and the provider regularly updates the system.

Finally, it is a good idea to seek out advice and expertise regarding ERP systems and what software may be the best fit for the company. Talk to colleagues who may be using an ERP system or have experience with its use in the past. Talk to the company's employees and seek their input. Get in touch with any contact that may have used ERP software or have objective knowledge of ERP systems and may be able to recommend a possible choice for the company. Seek other independent sources of objective information, including searching the Internet for reliable companies and even employing an ERP consultant to advise.

When choosing an ERP system to integrate into a company, being informed and keeping all options open is extremely important. There are nearly 100 ERP software systems on the market, including cloud ERP, and all have their own unique functionality levels, strengths and weaknesses. Choosing based on a brand name or hinging on the successful use of the software by a competitor company is not a good reason to choose an ERP program. The important thing is to choose what is best for a business' unique requirements as well as a system that will best boost the company's competitive advantage.

Copyright © Dave Stephenson

About the Author
Dave Stephenson

Dave Stephenson is a dedicated internet blogger who loves to write about lifestyle and the world, covering topics including family, health and pets, all the way through to technology, media and travel.

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