20 Questions to Ask When Buying ERP Software

by Jan 24, 2023ERP Research, Expert advice0 comments

Forest of trees with question marks painted on

Buying a new enterprise resource planning ERP system is a big decision. Choose the right one and your productivity, customer service and efficiency can all soar to new heights. Choose the wrong one and each of these will suffer. How do you know you’re making the right choice? Focus your attention on these 20 questions to ask when buying ERP software and you’ll be off to a great start!

Successful ERP implementation projects require careful planning, You must take the time to collect key information on your needs and business processes, and on the vendors you are considering. Only then can you fairly compare them against each other.

Every company’s needs are unique. But no matter what industry you’re in or how big your business is, there are certain questions to ask about any ERP systems you’re considering during the discovery process.

20 ERP discovery questions our experts recommend

ERP implementation questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I need to hire a third-party implementation partner to help with ERP project management? (For most small and medium-size businesses the answer to this question is almost always yes. The only time this might not be is if you have a large internal IT team and they have significant ERP software experience).
  • Can I afford to implement an ERP system? Not only the initial implementation, but also the future upgrades and additions I may need?
  • What internal IT resources do we have to- support the ERP? Will our implementation consultant need to fill this role?
  • Do we want to deploy the software in the cloud or on premises?  
  • Will my new ERP system need to integrate with any of my other existing software? What exactly do I need from these integrations?
  • Do I have the internal resources to handle my ERP updates on my own, or will I need outside help? (Important note: if you require help with your ERP upgrades, your budget should include the cost for this).
  • How much of my staff works remotely or may do so in the next few years?
  • Where do I see my business in the next few years? Do I plan on adding additional staff? Do I plan on adding any new product/service lines? What capabilities will I need from my ERP system to support these growth plans?

ERP questions to ask vendors:

  • Does the vendor understand the regulations that affect my company? How will the ERP handle these regulations?
  • Is the ERP regularly updated to respond to changes in regulations and the pain points they cause that affect my industry?
  • How experienced is the ERP consultant with working with businesses like yours (in size, industry and the types of products or services you offer)?
  • What types of ongoing support does the vendor offer? Is local, on-site service available, or will they have to do everything remotely? Keep in mind what internal support resources you have. Will you be relying on your vendor and/or implementation partner to support your ERP anytime there is an issue)?
  • How long has the vendor been in business? Do they have a long-term plan for the product?
  • Is the vendor’s business a financially healthy one?
  • What kind of ROI claims does the vendor make? Do they have a track record of meeting those standards?
  • For businesses operating in multiple countries, can the vendor’s ERP solutions support companies with foreign operations? And are they knowledgeable about working in the specific countries in which your company works?
  • Can the vendors ERP system integrate with your other critical software systems? Do they or their partners already have integrations, or do you require something new to be built for your specific needs?
  • How often does the vendor update its ERP software? How are those updates delivered?
  • If part of your team works remotely or you plan on allowing them to do so soon, does the ERP offer easy-to-use, reliable cloud-based access on a range of devices?
  • Does the ERP vendor offer the features I need to support my growth plans?
  • How will adding the additional users and/or features you think you may need down the road affect your ERP price?
  • What is the vendor’s customer satisfaction record like? (To answer this question, it’s helpful to look at online reviews and get references from the ERP vendor, preferably from companies like yours. Ask them, “do they enjoy working with the vendor?” “Are they happy with the service they receive?”

Why is understanding your business needs a crucial first step in the ERP selection process?

Understanding your business needs is a crucial first step in the ERP selection process for several reasons:

  1. Customization: Every business has unique processes, workflows, and requirements. By understanding your business needs, you can identify the specific features you need in an ERP system to support your business’ various functional areas effectively. This understanding helps ensure that the chosen ERP solution can be tailored or configured to align with your business processes, minimizing the need for extensive customization or development.
  2. Scalability: Business needs can vary based on factors such as industry, size, growth trajectory, and geographic presence. An ERP system should be capable of scaling with your business as it grows and evolves. By understanding your current and future business needs, you can assess whether an ERP solution has the scalability to accommodate changes in your organization over time, thereby avoiding the need for frequent system replacements or major overhauls.
  3. Integration: ERP systems often serve as the backbone of an organization’s IT infrastructure, integrating various business functions such as finance, human resources, supply chain management, manufacturing, and customer relationship management. Understanding your business needs allows you to identify the key systems, applications, and data sources that must integrate seamlessly with the ERP system. This ensures smooth data flow across the organization and avoids silos of information that can hinder decision-making and efficiency.
  4. Compliance and Regulation: Many industries are subject to regulatory requirements and compliance standards. Understanding your business needs involves identifying any specific regulatory or compliance requirements relevant to your industry or geographic location. This enables you to evaluate whether an ERP solution offers features and functionalities to support compliance efforts, such as robust reporting capabilities, audit trails, and data security measures.
  5. User Adoption: Employee buy-in and user adoption are critical factors for the successful implementation and utilization of an ERP system. Understanding your business needs allows you to consider the user experience and usability requirements of different stakeholders within your organization. By selecting an ERP solution that aligns with the needs and preferences of end-users, you can enhance user satisfaction, productivity, and engagement.

What’s next?

We hope this list of questions to ask when buying ERP software will get you and your fellow decision makers one step closer to a shortlist of software solutions that are a good fit for your business.

Remember, successful ERP projects require doing a bit of homework upfront. But, when it’s finally implemented and you’re happy with the results, you’ll be glad you took your time with the research process.

If you haven’t yet made your short list of ERP vendors to whom you plan to ask these questions, look at this Info-Tech report for a high-level comparison of the top 22 vendors across a variety of key areas.

Want more expert tips like this? Based on our nearly 30 years’ experience in the industry, we have a variety of eBooks on the ERP selection process.

Prefer hands-on help to find your ERP software? Schedule a discovery call with one of our experts to discuss your needs and goals.