ERP solutions are not one-size-fits-all and your selection shouldn’t just be based on buying the most popular- Pt VIII

Now you’ve thought about what you need from an ERPNext, and determined the problems you want to solve, you can create a yardstick against which all potential ERPs can be measured.

Think back to the departmental goals you established earlier; what features will you need to achieve those ambitions? Visualize what the ideal ERP for your business will look like, and use this to draw up a hypothetical product specification.

Some features are naturally going to be more vital to the growth of your business than others. Which will have the biggest impact on the business, and which are essentials, as opposed to nice-to-haves? Creating a ranking system to assign weight to each function will help you prioritize what’s important when it comes to comparing job card software vendors later on.

Of course, creating a dream spec doesn’t mean you should expect any product to fit it perfectly. It’s unlikely that you’ll find an ERP Software that meets all of those requirements out of the box, but it’s good to set a bar so that you know where any contender should be pitching.

Once you have an outline of what you’d like your new hvac service software to do, you also need to consider the nuts and bolts of the product; how it’s delivered, how it’s accessed, how it can grow when you need more from it.

Take into account factors such as:

  • Deployment — do you want a solution that’s based in the cloud or on your own servers in-house?
  • Scalability — are you likely to need to expand your use of the solution in the future? Will that simply mean more users, or more capabilities?
  • Implementation — do you have a timeframe in mind for the solution to go live?
  • Integrations — do you have any current software that you’d like to continue using alongside your ERP? Are there any particular integrations you’d like to be able to support in the future, such as third-party add ons, or augmented reality headsets?
  • Accessibility — does your new ERP need to have a mobile app? Do you want to be able to access the solution in the field?
  • Customization — are you likely to want to add customization to your solution? Do you plan to develop your own add ons and apps for your ERP?
  • Support and recovery — how much support are you likely to need, both in implementing the solution and maintaining it? How would you prefer to access support from your vendor? Are you happy to engage with them remotely, or would you prefer a vendor who is local to you?
  • Training — will you need a vendor who provides training for the new system’s users, or are you happy to train them in-house?

 

With so many ERPs on the market, you’re almost certain to find out within your price range, but it’s also important not to get too caught up in up-front costs. An ehs software system is an investment in your business, and should provide significant return if implemented and used correctly.

When working out a budget for your new ERP system, bear in mind potential costs outside of purchasing the software itself.

If you’re considering an ngo accounting software that’s based on-premise, you’ll need factor in the hardware outlay, and on-going maintenance required to be able run your system in-house. These include:

  • Hardware — will you need to purchase additional servers or networking equipment to house your ERP solution?
  • Utilities — will this hardware have to consume more power to run the ERP?
  • Staff — will you need professionals in-house to implement and maintain the hardware? Do you have space for them in your current location?
  • Maintenance — if you don’t have the skills to upkeep your hardware and software internally, will you need to use contractors or outside services to help keep things ticking over?

 

If you’re opting for a cloud-based solution, the above factors are negated, however, you will need to review whether you have a reliable-enough internet connection, and sufficient bandwidth, to accommodate multiple users working in the cloud.

Things such as data migration, training, and customization will need to be addressed whichever deployment route you go down. In addition, rolling out a new system can take up a lot of your staff’s time, so allow for the fact that productivity might take a hit at first.

Speaking of implementation time, it’s also a good idea to have an outline for when you’d like the CRM Software solution to go live. Bear in mind, it’s not unusual for implementations to take years, depending on the size of your business, how much legacy data you want to transfer over, and if you have any customizations to complete. But implementation is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s vital that everything is put in place and rigorously tested before launch.

So be wary of any vendor who says they can they can fast-track your implementation; there are bound to be bumps in the road with any new system, and a good vendor will know that.

Shortlist and assess your ERP vendor options

With your field service management software selection criteria in hand, it’s time to start looking for vendors that may be able to match your requirements.

If you’re not sure where to start, stick to your vertical. Many ERPs are industry-specific, so don’t waste time researching a solution that’s not made to fit the needs of your particular business type. If you’re part of an industry association, or have peers in your vertical who you can approach for advice, seek out recommendations.

Obviously, the bulk of reviewing a manufacturing software vendor will entail stacking up their features against your hypothetical spec, but you should also assess the vendor in a broader sense, taking into account things like past experience, customer satisfaction, and service levels.

Questions to ask during ERP vendor evaluation:

  • How long has the vendor company been in business?
  • What experience do they have in my industry?
  • Are they the developers of the product, or resellers?
  • How does their pricing and billing model work?
  • What deployment and hosting options do they provide?
  • What kind of support do they offer?
  • Do they provide training for new users?
  • Were they easy to contact, and has their service and communication been good so far?
  • What plans to do they have for the future of the product?
  • How often is the product updated?
  • Is the solution scalable?
  • How long do they estimate implementation will take?
  • Can they give references?
  • What sets them apart from other vendors?

Think long-term — will this ERP system be updated to stay ahead of the latest developments in technology, and most importantly, with the growth of your business?

No one wants to roll out a great new business system only to find that a few years down the line it’s struggling to keep up. Don’t be drawn in by a slick interface and a few jazzy features — remember to look under the hood.

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