Recommendations for Selecting a New ERP System
By Jackie Aldrich
Deciding to seek out a new ERP system for an organization is a substantial project, requiring a measured, intelligent and organized approach. As with any other major project, it certainly is possible to have a successful outcome. Organizations who bring together a knowledgeable group who follow a clear, organized plan will likely weed out the undesirables and eventually select the ERP system that works best for them.
Companies who have never invested in an ERP system before are wise to analyze each department, perhaps even down to the level of each position within a department. This will allow them to determine what their processes and employees need in order to be more efficient and productive. Not every item that employees wish for will necessarily make the cut, but after a complete analysis department heads should have a fairly good grasp of what is going to make their area more successful.
Of course each department will likely have their own goals, but there needs to be a central group that can develop an overall set of corporate goals. The central group will be charged with putting all the independent pieces together into one overall corporate vision. With all this information, they can then proceed to develop a comprehensive IT strategy that fulfills (as much as possible) both the overall needs of the company, as well as the individual departments. Of course, the company's IT department must have representation on the team in order to provide much needed input for the creation of such a strategy.
The Review Process
Once the central team has a complete vision of what they need in an ERP system in order to achieve corporate goals, they can begin to review various ERP vendors. Comparing ERP vendors should include reviewing all the various points in the contracts, ensuring that the "must haves" are in the contract, while keeping the number of irrelevant items down to a minimum. Part of the selection process should also include evaluating the deployment process. All other things being fairly equal, the ERP system that is clearly easier to deploy is probably the right choice.
Keeping realistic expectations throughout the entire process is generally a prudent move. Not every employee will have their wish list fulfilled, and the central team may decide to skip a feature or two in order to have a faster deployment. Perfection is a myth, whereas solid improvements in efficiency and productivity are worthwhile and obtainable goals.
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