6 Steps You Need to Take Before Looking for a New ERP System
If you’re reading this, it’s because your business is rapidly growing and your company needs the kind of infrastructure that’s built to last. You’ve done as well as you could with your current resources, yet as your industry gradually evolved with the help of new technology’s capabilities, you realized the need to take a technological leap. You might have heard about cloud ERP from a friend, from an article, or maybe you know that some of today’s leading businesses are using it. Either way, here you are, looking to solidify the backbone of your company.
But keep in mind, choosing the best ERP to fit your company’s unique needs is not always an easy process. If you’re looking to implement the right ERP solution for your business, then there are a few aspects in your decision-making that can be vital to your success.
Here are some pointers and items to check off your list before you embark on the selection process:
1. Get the consensus in your executive team on why you need to change
What initially caused your company to seek out a new ERP system? It could be a number of things - possibly past issues, such as innumerable delays due to manual processes, or it could be that your back-office team is encumbered in endless spreadsheets and islands of data without a proper organizational system put in place. Or, maybe you’re following the lead of other great innovators in your industry who seem to be evolving into modern tech with the cloud ERP solutions available out there.
It’s important - even fundamental - that you have a sit-down with your executive team to chat about the reasons for the change and what your overall expectations are. Once you’ve all come to consensus, you’ll have a better idea of which features you are looking for when you go out and begin the selection process.
For example, you or your team might have noticed:
- Long delays to go through simple sales or purchase orders
- Your back-office staff is growing faster than your company revenue
- Your company is using a lot of excel as well as a lot of manual reporting for executive decision making
- I’ve included many more examples in another article, check out Early indicators that your company might need to replace its core systems
By preparing in advance, you can be as specific as possible about what you want during the implementation phase (once you’ve chosen your ERP). This will allow you to get the best service possible for your specialized needs.
That’s why your next big step should be to take the time and:
2. Define your needs in line with your vision for the company
You need to make sure that the system you choose suits your company’s vision for future growth. After all, you want an infrastructure that will support your future goals. You have to consider things like, “where do I want my company to be in three years from now? In five?” These are the questions you need to be asking yourself, as you begin to scale up your business with new technologies. If you can predict which way you want your company to grow, then you can better adapt your new system to help support that vision.
3. Plan for future growth
When you choose an ERP that works for you, the best possible system you can look for is one that is scalable. You want a cloud ERP with a strong foundation that allows for thorough customization and “building block” add-ons to help support your company as it evolves, without locking you in a version of the software. This is called a scalable infrastructure.
Check out my book if you want more information on how to future proof your business with cloud technology.
4. Start to get the word out right away that a new system is coming and why
Now that you are aligned with your executive team and have determined that it is time to invest in a new system and upgrade the company’s infrastructure, you have to let the rest of your company know about the project.
This doesn’t always seem like an urgent requirement when going through the process of acquiring new software, but consider the changes that a cloud ERP will bring to your employees’ day to day jobs. Some of your team members might see a new system and its implied changes as a threat to their position. You need to announce it early on, during the selection process, so that they can get used to the idea before it’s actually integrated into your workplace. Let them know why this change is needed and how it will actually benefit them in their daily tasks. Give your project a name and keep the line of communication open.
5. Determine when you want to put the new system in place
When you’re making the upgrade into a new cloud ERP system, you should always have a proper timeline set in place for when you want to start the project, and an estimate of when it’ll be done. This will enable to you to coordinate team members to focus on the project, so that you will reach your goal faster without any uncertainties or delays. In fact, if you want to learn more about how to build a timeline for an ERP implementation, take a look at another of our articles, Your Timeline for buying a cloud ERP System.
6. Define your budget
When you’re choosLook at the metrics of companies in your industry to determine how much they spend relative to their revenue for these type of projects. Make sure to select businesses in the same revenue bracket that you want to find yourself in within the next few years. Keep in mind that your new ERP system will be a long-term investment, and you want to plan accordingly to make sure that you get the most out of it.
Prepare to embark on your project
As you take on the exciting and sometimes stressful task of upgrading your business with the right ERP system, you should cross-reference with this list. Once you start your project, you will be prepared and fully able to touch base with your team on the important topic points regarding this important change in your business.
Today’s Cloud ERP Solutions
If you decide to move forward with a modern cloud ERP System like NetSuite, read our other article on How to choose a Partner for your NetSuite implementation.