Many companies are apprehensive when faced with the need for selecting ERP software. It is an important decision, critical to the company’s future performance, and most selection teams have little or no experience to draw on. Similar feelings accompany the need to select CRM software and when selecting accounting software or some other similar business-critical information system.
The first secret to success is to make sure that the selection is in the hands of the future users of the system—not IT. ERP is a business management tool that just happens to utilize IT services and support. The users are the ones to determine what’s needed and what fits and active participation in the selection process helps build a sense of ownership that is critically important to successful implementation and use. IT can and should play an advisory role in system selection, but should not be in charge so it won’t be viewed as an IT project.
Selecting ERP systems takes time and effort, as does the implementation process. Be prepared to assign sufficient resources to the task. Map out your selection process, allocate the necessary resources, select the project team, and manage the project through to completion. Traditional project management processes—proven tools for managing a special task (as opposed to a continuing activity)—apply to a system selection and implementation project whether it is an ERP system project, selecting CRM, or another system selection and implementation task.
Since this is a one-time task, it is likely that in-depth experience and expertise might not be available in-house, but there are many outside resources available to help. There are a number of system selections tools for identifying the software products that offer the functionality you need. Some are even free. Search for ERP software selection and similar terms to find companies like FindAccounting.com, Inside-ERP.com, TopTenERP.org, SoftwareAdvice.com, ERP.com, and BusinessSoftware.com, apics.org), and many more.
You also may consider hiring the services of a reputable consulting resource to not only help with the selection, but also to assist in project planning and management throughout the selection and implementation process.