INTELLIGENT TECHNOLOGIES, INC’S NEWS & TIPS BLOG

A Guide to Unbiased ERP Research

Laura-Square

Laura Schomaker, Marketing Associate

August 17, 2018

Starting your ERP journey will, of course, begin with research. Finding the right ERP that fits your business can be a bit overwhelming, especially with the vast amount of information you encounter. Intelligent research means you need to scrutinize that information and filter out any biased resources. This can often prove a tricky exercise. Most vendors are trying to make a sale and will promise “do-it-all” solutions that seem like they can fix all your problems regardless of size, industry, or infrastructure. If that seems too good to be true…it is.

It’s easy to be wowed by advertised benefits and capabilities, but you need real comparisons and unbiased analysis. Your ERP might be the single most important software tool your company implements, so making the right choice is mandatory. Getting closer to the right decision means you first need to know what you’re looking for and what capabilities your company has. Will your ERP require a significant infrastructure investment? Will your ERP need a high amount of customization to fit your company? Can your ERP integrate your existing applications? To answer these questions, follow these steps:

  • Define business needs
  • Define your Buyer Type
  • Finding unbiased resources
  • Making your ERP shortlist

In today’s blog, we’ll explore how to make sure you find truthful, impartial information for your ERP research before signing a contract.

Define Business Needs

The main reason why organizations end up choosing an inadequate ERP is because they have not clearly defined what they need from their ERP. Business managers need to run the proper assessment of their existing infrastructure and identify where they can leverage ERP functionalities and capabilities to address pressing issues.

Companies often lack the technical knowledge needed to accurately assess their infrastructure to find what their ERP requirements are. This is where partnering with an experienced technology consulting firm can prove beneficial. Outsourcing your infrastructure assessment will reveal a lot of useful information about your technology needs. However, keep in mind many of these consulting firms represent a single vendor, meaning their advice may not be impartial.

Should you decide to outsource the infrastructure assessment portion of the ERP buying process, look for consulting firms who support multiple products, not just one. Ideally, they should also have experience working with companies similar to yours. If a solution benefits your competition, it may likely help your organization as well.

Define Your Buyer Type

Once you’ve performed or outsourced a proper assessment of your company, you should have enough information to define your buyer type. Is your current system obsolete and you need an end-to-end solution? Is your company heavily reliant on the functionalities of your existing applications? Do you require managed services and maintenance for your ERP solution? The answers to these questions can point you in the direction of one of these buyer types.

 

Which one are you?

 

  • Full-suite: enterprise business usually calls for a single integrated ERP system. This type of buyer is looking to minimize integration concerns and improve the exchange of information between the company’s different departments. Full-suite buyers want every functionality in one centralized place with simplified access and visible accountability.
  • Customizer: this type of buyer is looking mainly for flexibility. They often have their own team of developers and need a platform that lets them nip and tuck applications to address unique issues. They may rely heavily on their own applications and want an ERP that enables them to bring those applications onboard. Open source cloud platforms are appealing to the Customizer.
  • Best-of-Breed: these buyers are shopping for applications that specialize in a single function. They may need specific support for accounting, HR, or a CRM system, for example. This may be a company that has a reliable existing infrastructure but is lacking in a specific functionality.
  • Small Business: Most small businesses find they might be paying for way more than they need in a full-suite solution. This has been one of the main drivers in the trend toward SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions. They allow companies to pay for using the solution without having to make a substantial investment in software or IT infrastructure. SaaS services are usually accessible as web applications at a per user basis, allowing for scalability as needed. The small business buyer type can earn competitive advantages through a cost-effective SaaS cloud solution.

Finding Unbiased Resources

Once you’ve defined your buyer type, you’ll know what you’re looking for in your ERP. This will help you filter out options that simply don’t fit your business needs. Now you can start flipping through the brochures, so to speak. Software review websites can offer a lot of insight, especially when they make detailed comparisons between similar products.  Analyst reports, case studies, and whitepapers are widely available online; these can help you identify cases where similar challenges have been addressed as the ones your company is facing. To get a good idea of the options available to your business, it’s always smart to begin your research by looking at non vendor specific websites.

One excellent online resource is ERP Focus. This unbiased, informative website has a comprehensive comparison engine and collects hundreds of articles and guides for business managers who are shopping for an ERP.  Regularly updated with fresh news and developments from the ERP world, it can prove to be a helpful resource.

Making Your Shortlist

After shopping around, you’ll likely have identified three or four options that seem to fit. Make a shortlist and start looking for vendors that work with the ERP solutions you are interested in. Finding the right partner is a crucial part of a successful ERP journey; schedule consultations and ask the right questions. Many vendors will offer a free evaluations, use these to your advantage. They will give you a more in depth look at the solutions that interest you, so you can see how they stack up against one another.

But, which software you should buy is not the only important decision you must make when implementing a new ERP. More than likely you will also need to find a partner to help implement the new solution. Again, it is very helpful if that partner has previously worked with companies that share similarities with yours. This means that they likely have a framework they can adapt to your business goals. After doing your research and interviewing several prospective partners to find the best fit, you’ll be well on your way to a successful ERP implementation project.

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