You knew that selecting an ERP wouldn’t be an overnight process, but when you delved into the research and realized the sheer number of products and vendors available, that vacation you took last month seems very, very long ago. Indeed, the number of selections is dizzying. But categorizing the products makes ERP software comparison far easier. Here are a few deceptively simple tips that can narrow down your selection process considerably.
1. Do You Need a Project-Based or Product-Based ERP Solution?
Broadly speaking, there are two categories of ERP software: those designed to meet the needs of a service provider and those developed with a product manufacturer in mind. Focus your search on the software solutions that match your business and you will eliminate a large chunk of irrelevant searches.
2. Do You Prefer a Cloud-Based or On-Premises Solution?
Most organizations already know whether they prefer an onsite installation or a cloud-based product. Onsite ERP software comes with a significant installation process and there are ongoing updates and management responsibilities to consider. On the flip side, you own the software and there is no question about where your sensitive proprietary data spends its evenings.
Cloud-based ERP requires no implementation, but the data isn’t sitting in your own data center. However, you always have access to the latest version of the software, without downtime associated with an update. Cloud ERP vendors usually include things like backup and disaster recovery services, taking one more load off your already inundated IT department.
Once your organization has determined which category of solution best meets your requirements, IT infrastructure, and budget, ERP software comparison becomes much quicker and easier.
3. What are Your Requirements for a Vendor Relationship?
Now that you’ve eliminated a hefty portion of competitive products, you can begin fine-tuning your search a bit. Since you’ll likely have this ERP software for years to come, the vendor relationship is a crucial one. First, consider which products are compatible with the legacy systems you have in use. In the age of data, it’s important to have ERP software that integrates nicely with other back-end systems, whether those are custom developments or off-the-shelf products.
You’ll also want to take a look at the approach the vendors have taken to recent technologies, such as how they handle mobile access and data analytics. Don’t just look at their particular approaches. Be sure you’re going with a vendor that has their eyes squarely on the future. That mindset assures that your product comes with a long lifecycle, meaning a higher ROI for the long term.
Having a vendor with savvy in your particular industry is also a huge plus. You want to consider whether the vendor provides its own customer support or whether they outsource it. Many organizations build a strong rapport with their software vendors during the selection and implementation process, only to learn after the purchase that the customer support is outsourced, rendering that camaraderie moot. Like with any software comparison, look at the vendor’s longevity. Rooting for the underdog startup is one thing; trusting your essential business functions to their product is quite another.
4. Do You Require ERP Software Customization?
Customization is so tempting. It allows your organization to get exactly the features and functionality you desire for just a bit more cost upon implementation. But also consider the dark side of customization: it’s much harder and more expensive to upgrade the product. Often, it’s worth sacrificing some bells and whistles up front in order to get a product that you can keep current and relevant for as long as possible. If you can do without a lot of customization, you are rewarded with more flexibility in terms of the vendors and products you have to choose from. It also keeps the total cost of ownership much lower.
5. What Total Cost of Ownership are You Shooting For?
Speaking of TCO, it’s not just a matter of what comes out of this year’s CapEx budget. When it comes to ERP software comparison, you need to look for a product that is scalable, flexible, and up-to-date with the technological advancements your organization will be implementing over the coming years. In other words, when calculating your TCO, make sure your ERP software selection makes the grade according to your future plans, not just the needs your organization has today.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone when it comes to ERP software comparison. You can get a free software selection requirements template today.