By Lisa Maxwell on April 11, 2019
We all use software for our company, but are we using the perfect system? Most of the time when we join a company a system is already in place and has been in place for 10+ years. As your business grows and changes so will your software functionality requirements. I know that many businesses tend to put this on the back burner. The reasons are due to investment costs, staffing needs and because some hate the idea of change. Aren’t we all creatures of habit? With that said, let me bring you into the unknown of building your perfect ERP system.
Let’s focus on your company size. Are you a startup or a multi-million corporation? Determining your company size plays into many factors. How many user licenses you need to access the system and the functionality needed are a few? If you're a start-up company, you may want a smaller software package. If you are a million-dollar company, smaller software packages such as QuickBooks or Peachtree may not work for you. A larger company requires a more robust, customizable system such as a Sage 100c product.
I can’t tell you how many companies I work with that have outgrown their QuickBooks or Peachtree system. They have outgrown this year’s prior but keep patching it trying to make it work for them. They are coming up with other processes and reporting outside of the system using Excel. But that is not a good idea. For one it is not secure, so the numbers are only as accurate as the people entering them and the formulas they use. The second reason is that all the data is manually entered. I would suggest meeting with team department heads. Get a list from them on what is working and what isn't working for them in the current system. Also, a wish list of what they would like to make their department more productive and efficient. To target your needs for the present into the future, I recommend talking to peers and see what they are using. You can also get some recommendations from research and technology consulting firms.
Your industry will determine what software will fit your needs. Don’t be fooled - one software does not fit all. Many of the ERP systems in the marketplace handle your core accounting needs. If you are a distributor, you are not going to use a software that focus on non-profit needs. What you want to do is find an EPR geared for your industry. It should offer add-on products to meet your specific requirements. You don’t want to commit to software that will not work for you now or in the future. When we work with distribution companies, the ERP software focuses on distribution functions. Inventory management, warehouse automation and shipping are crucial. When working with manufacturing companies, their software handles functions that manufacturers need. Manufacturers need Material Requirements Planning (MRP), Bill of Materials, and supply/demand tools. It is imperative to get a software package that aligns with your business and industry.
The budget would be the next item to consider when building the perfect ERP system for your company. Budget as with everything your business does, is an important factor. You need to have an idea of what your company can afford. The good news is many ERP systems are subscription based with a monthly payment. This eliminates having to lay out a large investment at one time. Also, leasing is an option that many companies we work with opt for. If you are looking for new ERP software, please keep an open mind regarding investment. You want to get a system that works completely for your company and this will reflect in your ROI.
Support and Training
When building the perfect ERP system, training and support are a must. I have been to many clients who have purchased software from other vendors, and they don't know how to use it. Don't fall into this trap. You want to ensure that any software you go with has training for your team. Your staff needs to learn the proper way to use the tools provided to them. If not, how will you know that the proper receivables, current inventory, issuing of purchase orders to vendors and other results are correct? Invest in training so that your staff can work in their new system without frustration.
I would also suggest that if a support plan is available to take advantage. Many questions arise after the software is in place and training is complete. If you are on a support plan you can assure that your staff will be in touch with an expert who can help them with the process.
Putting a new business software system into play is no easy feat for any size organization. I hope these suggestions are of help to you. You may feel overwhelmed, but don't get discouraged. It takes time and determination. This is a process and as we all know processes take time, but time well invested.