Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Choosing an ERP Solution

First thing an organization must do is answer the “Why” question of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions.  ERP systems are designed to let the left hand know what the right hand is doing and in real time, not delayed.  Provide more information that is related and up-to-date, more quickly, to the people who need it to make better decisions.  This information share generates efficiencies and helps to reduce costs.

Has your organization outgrown a good fit solution, because of growth or a merger?  Is what you are using now over kill due to reorganization?  Have you become frustrated by continually adding on and now you have a patchwork of software that is a challenge to keep in sync and operating?  Do you spend more time maintaining the system than actually using the system?  How many people does it actually take to run, operate and maintain your system?  Does it seem like you now have a server farm?  How reasonable does it seem to you to have so many pieces of equipment?  I am not saying they do not do what they are supposed to do, but what about the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) from running outdated equipment?

ERP systems can vary in complexity and functionality.  The “Which” question addresses these issues.  Which system addresses my company’s challenges?  Was I quoted what the Salesrep needs for a new car?  Do I really need all-this-stuff?  How many levels of personnel will be affected by a new or upgraded solution?

What exactly are my requirements?  Which modules do I need versus want?  Can I step into a new solution or will does it have to be all at once?  Will the new software fit my company’s culture?  Will it be functional?  Will it be too complicated for my people?  Do I have to buy equipment or can I use this “Cloud” thing people are talking about?  Where do I buy a cloud?  I see them in the sky all the time, are they free?  I understand equipment costs, software costs, but what are implementation, training, testing and conversion? 

Which solution provider will be responsive to my company’s needs?  What if I have a problem?  Is there any real support after I sign the papers or is it just a sales presentation?  How do I know if I can trust this provider?  Do they really understand MY business?  How much time did they invest with us?  What if I need some customizations?  Does source code come with the system so I can make simple changes myself?  I know the system works, but how do I get to the information directly?  I want to be able to create my own reports, when I want them and not have to wait on someone else.

What if my needs change over time?  I expect to grow a lot once I optimize my operations, add new products, and take over my competition.  Will this new software stuff grow with my business?  I want to lay the foundation now.  The last thing I want to do is look for another solution in a few years and run my company through this turmoil more than necessary.  Will I have to replace all of the equipment I have now?  Do I have the physical space or resources to even support a new system?  What other applications would I like to integrate now or in the future?  How much is too much?  What is my competition doing better than I am doing?  How many more customers will I lose, because my customer service people do not have the tools necessary to compete?

How much is a new system going to cost (or should I say what is the Investment)?  Can I afford to not change?  How much will it cost to run it over time (TCO)?  I know there are upfront costs, ongoing costs, license fees and maintenance?  Will I really be able to achieve a Return on Investment (ROI) in my lifetime?  Where exactly will the savings come from?  Would reducing my inventory level one or two percent really save that much?

How will I know if what I see during the evaluation and various demonstrations will be what I actually receive?   How much training will it take for my people to change?  I know I am the boss, but if I do not have any support, this project may not succeed.  Can I phase in the new system?  Should I run in parallel?  Just what metrics will I use to test the new system?  What if the real workload is too much for the system which worked fine during the testing phase?


Okay.  A real lot of questions here and the point is not to overwhelm you here, but give you a taste of the questions that you should be asking your consultant or trusted advisor to help you answer.  ERP is like a big supper.  All preparation, a little presentation and fast consumption by some hungry people.  The bulk of the work is upfront.

Dolvin Consulting utilizes its industry connections to work with manufactures, distributors and specialty retailers to help them streamline their computer operations with Enterprise Solutions so that they operate more efficiently, reduce costs and become more profitable.  Our biggest successes come from organizations that struggle with warehouse or inventory control issues.

Contact us today to see how we can help.  We are just a phone call away.

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