In the last part of this special blog series, Navigating the ERP System Selection Process, we’ll review the steps manufacturers should be taking to select the right ERP vendor and set themselves up for success throughout implementation. Learn to define and manage your ERP expectations, strategy and budget and select an ERP partner who is right for your business.

If you’ve been following the steps outlined in this blog series, then your journey to ERP selection is nearly complete. You’ve gathered an ERP selection team to discuss your business drivers and software needs. You’ve analyzed the cost of ERP ownership versus the gains. With these thoughtful conversations behind you and comprehensive reports in hand, you are prepared to make the biggest decision of all: choosing an ERP solution

Settling on an ERP System
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By now, you know what’s driving your organization’s need for change and how this translates into specs for your ideal ERP solution. Keep this list in check by prioritizing the features so you can easily distinguish between requirements and nice-to-haves. Next, it’s time to compare this list to the offerings of your industry’s top ERP software solutions. In addition, be sure to consider software’s ability to integrate with your current systems and create the reports needed by various departments. Before moving forward with a given ERP system, ask management and key stakeholders for their input to ensure consensus.

Selecting an ERP Partner

Depending on your requirements, you may find that several ERP systems are able to provide the functions and features you are looking for. However, your success will largely depend on how that solution is implemented to fit your needs.

This comes down to having a partner who understands your particular business application. As a mid-sized manufacturer, you may be competing in the same space as big, international players. Some ERP vendors specialize in implementing sophisticated IT systems for companies who have large IT departments to manage the process. It’s important to work with a partner who has worked with other mid-sized manufacturers so they can complement your internal resources and help you achieve the results you’re looking for in weeks not years.

The best way to gauge a given vendor’s fitness for the role is to witness their team in action. Ask all vendors from your shortlist to present a software demo of the specific workflows you will be utilizing. In both your face-to-face meeting and your RFQ, you’ll want to investigate the following qualifications:

  • Has the vendor worked with other similarly sized organizations within your industry? Is this knowledge reflected in their software features, knowledge of best practices and comments from references?
  • Customer service. What is the vendor’s customer satisfaction and retention rate? What are their support channels, and are they local and/or convenient to your offices?
  • What are the vendor’s data monitoring and security protocols? Ask questions about the credibility and reliability of third-party software and vendors.
    R&D. How often does the company update their software? Are there planned enhancements or product launches that could benefit you?

Selecting the right ERP partner is like an insurance policy for your implementation. Keep your expectations set high. Look for a vendor who understands your industry speak and your business needs. Request a demo of workflows and features that will be relevant to your day-to-day life. And remember that the vendor you settle on will act not only as a partner to your ERP team but your organization as a whole.