Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are business management systems that enable organizations to process daily transactions while providing managers with visibility into operational realities. An ERP system could be a single system that handles various functions ranging from sales to operations and finance, or it could comprise a number of systems – called a “best of breed” approach – that are integrated with one another.
The “science” of ERP evaluation addresses the more quantifiable aspects of the system, such as functional requirements, technology and integration capabilities, and budgetary implications. The “art” of ERP evaluation deals with qualitative factors such as the look and feel of the applications, the philosophy of the overall software architecture, the types and characteristics of involved parties such as solution providers, and your organization’s unique cultural norms.
Getting the correct functional and technical requirements is critical to ensure you select a system that satisfies your key operational requirements. The art side of the evaluation is also important since most capable systems offer many features, but they are only valuable if someone actually uses them.
Here are five key questions to ask during your ERP evaluation process to ensure you are capturing both the art and the science:
- What features does the system need to offer in order to help us maintain or increase our competitive advantage?
- Which system features do we realistically see ourselves taking advantage of in order to make things easier for our customers, suppliers, and employees?
- How can the system help our managers make better decisions, faster?
- What is our ability to change – can we envision ourselves adopting new ways of doing things, or are we very set in our ways?
- What are the resources needed to support the application on an ongoing basis, and will we be able to manage and afford them over the long haul?
ERP systems offer significant performance improvement capabilities when the right set of solutions are selected and properly implemented. When making your evaluation, use a well-thought-out approach that considers both qualitative and quantitative in order to ensure project success!
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