We began this post on ERP selection in our previous post here. We noted the Aberdeen Research survey that emphasized the importance of planning, and we promised in this post to look at a few other key selection criteria. Here goes…
We noted previously that the number one ERP selection criteria – within the overall domain of planning – was simply, functionality: that the software perform well, and that it accomplish the automation of the key business processes. Of nearly as great importance was ease of use. Words like “user friendly” and “intuitive interface” come to mind. And we would add: can the software be molded to fit the way you do business? Or, conversely, when is it appropriate to fit the way you do business to an innate business process within the software. Both are ripe for discussion by your own selection team.
Ranked as only the third most important criteria by Aberdeen survey respondents (over 250 of them in the SMB space) – after functionality and ease of use– was total cost of ownership. Balancing resources with needs and software functionality can be a difficult, time-consuming juggling act at times. The outcome is unique to your team and your organization, so start at least with a budget “range,” make sure it’s market-realistic, and work your way back from there.
The no. 4 criteria in system selection was the ability to tailor functionality without programming. Here’s where a more flexible system that allows users to tailor their environment to some extent, to create their own dashboards, even to set up their own unique roles can be most helpful. You want the users to be able to make the software their own, and have it tailored where possible to their own needs and roles. Beyond that, modifications are sometimes necessary. Be sure your selection permits someone, even if not you, to further modify and tailor your system to your unique needs, processes and workflow – after all, that’s often where your competitive advantages (and your margins!) lie.
The final two key system criteria according to survey respondents were:
– that it be part of an integrated suite (this avoids continuation of separate silos of scattered information), and
– that the quality and availability of support be up to your standards. There’s nothing worse than having nowhere to turn when you need help with your software.
Aberdeen’s full report can be found here. But following the gist of it as we’ve outlined above will by itself ensure you’re on the right track.
Of course, as 2nd time buyers will tell you THE most important part of the selection process is selecting an implementation partner that knows your business and has your best interests at heart, one that’s right for you. But then, if you’ve been down this road before, you probably already know that.