How to Select the Right ERP System to Meet Your Business Requirements

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1 How to Select the Right ERP System to Meet Your Business Requirements Cerritos Corporate Dr., #A Cerritos, CA Toll Free : (800) 969-APEX Tel : (562) Website :

2 The first step in selection of a new system is to adopt a structured approach to the process. The set of practices are presented to all the stakeholders within the enterprise before the system selection process begins. Everyone needs to understand the method of gathering requirements: invitation to tender, how potential vendors will be selected, the format of demonstrations, and the process for selecting the vendor. Thus, each stakeholder is aware that the decision will be made on an objective and collective basis, and this will always lead to a high level of co-operation within the process. Choosing which ERP to use is a complex decision that has significant economic consequences, thus it requires a multi-criterion approach. There are two key points to note when the major decision makers are agreeing on selection criteria that will be used in evaluating potential vendors. Firstly, the criteria and the scoring system must be agreed in advance prior to viewing any potential systems. Secondly, the criteria must be wide-ranging and decided upon by as many objective people as possible within and external to the enterprise. In no circumstance should people with affiliations to one or more systems be allowed to advise in this regard. The decision on the system must be made by all stakeholders within the enterprise. It requires top management leadership and participation. It involves virtually every department within the company. Representatives of all users should: Be involved in the project initiation phase where the decision making process is agreed. Assist in the gathering of requirements. Attend the vendor demonstrations. Have a significant participation in the short-listing and final selection of a vendor. Here are more specifics that must be given credence when you are selecting an ERP vendor. 1 2 Get Upper Management Buy-In - Communicate the project scope and get agreement on what success is. Companies that tend to struggle the most are the ones that lack upper management level involvement. Project participants will make sure they are engaged if they know senior management is involved. Present total cost of ownership (TCO) and timelines, and include all direct (software, maintenance, support, implementation, etc.) and indirect costs as management does not like surprises. List Requirements and Where You Must Improve - Don t waste time on basic functionality as ERP systems have matured. Gather a list of your most mission-critical requirements, including functional: workflow, systems integration, governance, risk and compliance, data migration and conversion. Focus on must haves unique to your business. Begin by carefully defining the scope of your project, focus on specific 1

3 business processes and system requirements. The more specific you can be upfront, the more detailed your vendors can be in their proposals. Few things derail project budgets and timelines as the 'assumptive' or absent requirements. So make sure you engage with end users, IT, and senior management. Create a team from that mix and a go to person for each functional area if possible. Remember the payback and long-term benefits of a good fitting system are extensive Change Management - Get employee involvement as most people do not like change. They are quite comfortable with what they are doing today. Get their buy-in by asking for their input. ERP Champion and Surround Her or Him With Good People - A product champion is someone the organization who is well respected. This person is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. He or she will ask all the tough questions and ensure the at all timelines by individuals are met. Assign this individual at the beginning of the vendor selection process. SaaS or on Premise - What ERP delivery model is right for my company? The three primary options are on premise ERP, hosted/managed service ERP, and cloud ERP solutions. Avoid Packages that Require Too Many Customizations - Consider the amount of customization required to configure and deploy as a highly customized system will generate higher cost, not only in the initial deployment but when upgrading from release to release. While some customization is essential, too many organizations over-customize their software, to the point where years later, they can t upgrade the system without losing all of this custom work. Training - Make time to consider the abilities of the vendor when it comes to training. Learning a new way of operating will require a significant time commitment for everyone, so the project team must take proactive measures to reduce the burden on employees. Identify department-specific needs, allowing for sufficient time to develop and deliver training programs. Use the train the trainer methodologies. Reporting Requirements - Scope out the business intelligence and reporting requirements for each functional area. Evaluate the standard reports available and the report writers available. If users cannot get their reports as required it will increase costs and the timeline for going live. Mobility - As mobility requirements increase accessing ERP systems from desktops only is no longer an option. Choose an ERP solution that allows users to be productive on smartphones and tablets yet at the same time will ensure that sensitive information is secure. Other Criteria for ERP Selection - Poorly run and ill-defined evaluation projects can lead to poor implementations. In addition, lack of participation and input from key stakeholders in the evaluation stage can lead to poor acceptance and user adoption. And don t forget that delays running the evaluation project itself ultimately delay the go-live date and the time to benefit. 2

4 Find a good Value Added Reseller (VAR)/ Implementation partner such as Apex Computer Systems, Inc. who will get you live on time and within budget. Also determine if you will have an implementation that will be for all modules purchased or a phased approach. Issue a Request for Information (RFI) or a Request for Proposal (RFP) based on how complex your requirements are. Ask vendors questions running the gamut as it relates to cost, technology, hardware requirements, training, customer base, customizations, and qualifications of the services team. Define your implementation approach and timeframe. How complex will your data migration/conversions be? Are you looking to migrate summary vs. transaction detail? How clean is your data today? Don t forget about your IT team when selecting a solution. Do you have a well-defined ERP IT plan? What IT skills do you have in-house today versus skills you need help with? By answering these questions, you will have a much better handle on what you need in an ERP system and be better positioned for success Compare Vendor Solutions - There are multiple ERP vendors operating globally each ERP may or may not satisfy 100 percent of your organization s requirements. Therefore, it s important to prioritize and create a matrix of functionalities required by the business and rank different ERPs with this matrix. By doing so, it will be easier to choose an ERP that provides the maximum number of required functionalities and also gives the expected ROI/Payback. Be prepared for vendor demonstrations and make sure they are addressing your key accounting, business, technology, and financial criteria. Carefully Vet Vendors - Read Gartner s Magic Quadrant on ERP vendors or other industry experts to see if the vendor is on the cusp of current trends and are investing in emerging technologies. It s not enough to solve your business pain points today. The ERP vendor should be able to demonstrate a longer-term growth strategy that can help you stay competitive into the future. Call References - You will be amazed at how much you will learn by speaking to the vendor s customers. Select references that are in the same industry, revenue, and user size if possible. Ask for 3-4 references. Have a standard questionnaire prepared. Some of the questions, but not all, to pose are: Modules installed and if live? Number of end users both? Don t forget mobile or casual users. Who was assigned to the implementation? Is it user friendly? Modifications required? Come in on time and within budget? Ongoing support? Why did you select the vendor? Issues that have arisen Would you still select the vendor? 3

5 13 Make Your Decision - Select one vendor to begin negotiation with. Maintain contact with your second choice in case negotiations fail with the first. About Apex Computer Systems, Inc. (ACSI) A Trusted Advisor For the past 18 years ACSI has been a Microsoft Certified Gold Partner reseller providing full-range implementation services for Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Our organization serves a broad spectrum of clients ranging from emerging small and medium-sized businesses to Fortune 500 enterprise corporations across the nation. Combining the right people, processes, and technology, we offer a complete range of solutions to help our clients be more efficient and cost-effective. Our reputation for quality and excellence has been earned through proven commitment and delivery of solutions to our clients, business partners, and community. Our Consulting Services include: Pre-Sales Evaluation Assistance Services Proof of Concept Ensures feasibility of successful ERP system implementation. Customized Demo - Allows the customer to gain insight into ERP features and benefits within a familiar environment. Licensing Requirements Determine the most cost-effective number of Microsoft Dynamics NAV licenses. Deployment and Configuration Planning Deployment Plan Cost-effective plan to ease the burden on valuable internal resources. On-premises Hosting For customers that require on-site deployment. Cloud Hosting For customers that have limited on site IT resources and require rapid deployment. Operational Assistance Services Operational Planning Enables best practices of ERP solution for proper use. ERP Customization No two businesses are the same, so ACSI provides software customization to meet the customer s exacting needs. Training Services Deep understanding of the use of installed software to deliver core competency to users. On-going Software Support Services Production Environment Review Maximizes the efficiency and productivity of the ERP system. Software Upgrades Manage and implement new versions of Microsoft Dynamics NAV and maintain data integrity. 4

6 New Functionality Implementation Added as your organization grows to meet your new business requirements. Support World-class support with decades of ERP software experience for maximum uptime and minimal downtime Cerritos Corporate Dr., #A Cerritos, CA Toll Free : (800) 969-APEX Tel : (562) Website : 5

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