A Wise Investment that Can Lead to Profits
Buying an ERP software solution for your company must be done very carefully because it is a huge investment. The process of selecting the correct ERP company can take up to years and at the very least take about 4-6 months. It is almost impossible to find an established ERP system that caters to all your business needs, so the best thing you can do is find an ERP system that best suits your company through a rigorous selection process. The right ERP system can give a huge boost to your company so it is always a wise investment. Below are few things you should consider when investing in an ERP system. Every point mentioned here doesn't apply in every situation so consider this a general guideline.
Ease of Use / Learning Curve of the ERP System
This is added first because it is one of the most ignored aspects when it comes to buying ERP solutions. Any ERP system has a learning curve but if it's a steep one then it will take a long time for you to see profit. Also you have to spend a considerable amount in user training. For large organizations planning to buy many licenses this will be a huge burden. The look and feel of the application also matter, because ultimately the end users should enjoy using the software. Functionality alone is not enough in this fast advancing technology world.
Cost of the ERP System
The cost includes buying the software solution, integrating it to your current processes, user training and support costs. All these things must be considered when arriving at the last price. Some ERP companies lets you buy parts of the software as components and let you upgrade as you see fit. This is the perfect fit for companies who have tight budgets. You can install the necessary parts and add more components when you need them or when you have the necessary funds.
Integrating the software to the current processes is also a costly procedure. Especially if you need to do more software development for the smooth working of the software. Some ERP systems do give public interfaces to pass information between different systems using common standards like XML.
The other part is the cost of supporting the software. how long do they support for free, how do they categorize bugs in the system, the cost for each of those categories are some of the things you should consider. Some companies charge close to 1000$ for a single bug fix. In some cases it is much cheaper to hire a developer who has experience with your ERP system. For example ERP systems like SAP have their own certification system so it is easier to find qualified people for their solutions.
Because there are so many things to consider it is good to use a work breakdown structure or a flowchart software to highlight the key decision points. This helps you get a visual overview of things and makes it easier to explain to others.
Integration with Other Systems
I touched on this briefly in the cost section as well, but integration with your current system is a very important thing you should consider when buying an ERP solution. If you are looking for an ERP that usually means you are a large company or an enterprise spread around the world that uses different systems in different sites. In most cases the goal of implementing an ERP is to get all of those sites to work using one software. However implementing the software across the organization takes time and during that time it should work well with the existing systems. Most ERP companies give this facility by creating a common data transfer interface.
Something to Buy After Rigorous Selection Process
Because it is a huge investment you should have a thorough selection process. Mentioned above are some of the critical factors but there are many more depending on your industry, workforce etc. For example if you are a global company then support for different languages and different currencies are critical for your operations. You need to make sure you consider all these factors when making the final decision.