5 questions to ask before investing in next-gen ERP to get the right data, visibility, and flexibility for your operations.
By Kerrie Jordan, Vice President, Product Management, Data Platform, Epicor
If you are thinking about changing your ERP provider or investing for the first time, you may be wondering how to make the most informed decision for your unique business.
Beginning with the end in mind, organizations ultimately need visibility into their processes, insights to understand what’s working and what’s not, and flexibility to make improvements for the future. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution will give an organization just that, as it manages every aspect of a business, from operations to HR to supply chain and more. Next-gen ERP solutions also run embedded analytics that give insights into what’s going on across your organization or even outward into your supply chain or customer base, and upwards of 95% of organizations say that their ERP has improved their business processes.
But many organizations today aren’t taking advantage of the advances ERP solutions have evolved over the years that can truly transform their operational approach. Instead, many organizations are still using legacy systems siloed across business functions that don’t work together, and won’t set up an organization for growth and ongoing success.
If you’re ready to reap the benefits of a new ERP, read on about what you should be looking for.
ERP Solutions Today
An ERP is the hub of any company’s operations. By integrating data from across your business functions, suppliers, and customers, you’re able to not only get the big picture of how your operations are running today, but can use that data to make decisions on where your business needs to improve for tomorrow.
When you begin looking for new ERP software, look for solutions that have kept up with evolutions in technology and innovation. One of the biggest advances across all industries has been the move to the cloud for the underlying technology platform and software as a service (SaaS) delivery model. Moving data, applications, and workflows into the cloud from on-premises systems has given organizations the opportunity to scale and become more flexible, as well as greater opportunity for innovation. Today, 81% of organizations use a multi-cloud approach, and 90% say cloud has helped advance their company’s goals.
ERP solutions have also untethered from on-premises hardware systems and moved to cloud-based SaaS systems. Not only does this allow for more functionality, but it also allows for more security, flexibility, and scalability. Like with other software, ERP solutions no longer need to be installed within specific hardware, but can be downloaded to any device from anywhere as SaaS.
To truly have an effective ERP, it needs to pull in data from across the organization. ERP solutions have evolved to be able to handle increased integrations from various business functions, tools, and machines than ever before. After its people, data is a company’s most critical asset, and an ERP needs to not only collect it but analyze and secure it as well.
All of this is creating next-generation ERP solutions that will connect people and things with open architecture to create an ecosystem that’s specific and uniquely relevant to your organization.
Questions to Ask About a New ERP
Investing in a new ERP can enhance your productivity, create efficiencies, and give you a great competitive advantage — if you choose the right one. As you begin looking for an ERP solution, let these five questions guide your decision-making.
1. Does this work with other business applications?
A question to ask when evaluating a new ERP is if it works across other business applications, or in other words, its interoperability. In order to gain a comprehensive look at how your business functions, you’ll need to pull in data from across supply chains, third party vendors, and more. This goes to the heart of data collection: In order to know how well you’re functioning or where you need improvements, you need visibility into all aspects of your manufacturing operations.
2. Does this have specific features relevant to my industry?
There are many different types of ERP solutions, from the general to the specific. You may decide to go with a broader, more universal ERP, but will it fit the needs of your industry — like knowing regulations, demand, supply chains, and more? Instead, look for an ERP vendor that focuses on your specific industry. They’ll not only build features and capabilities specific to industry use cases, but can cater to your unique business requirements as well.
3. Does this help my business achieve our company goals or outcomes?
Zero in on an ERP that creates value for your company. Resist the temptation of features that demo well but can’t prove ROI. Let your company goals, desired outcomes, and strategic vision guide your decision making. When evaluating an ERP solution, ask the vendor to demonstrate features that are applicable to your specific use cases in the context of your strategic vision, and if the vendor can’t produce them, go elsewhere.
4. What’s the long-term viability of the solution provider?
As you look for an ERP solution, evaluate the vendor as well, as they will become your partner for the foreseeable future. Do they truly understand the unique needs of your industry and business? What type of pricing structure do they offer? Do they help with tailoring the ERP to your needs? What type of customer and technical support do they provide? Are there feedback mechanisms to influence the future product roadmap? This partnership may become one of the most important assets to your business going forward.
5. What’s the global coverage of the solution provider?
Today, organizations are becoming more distributed across the globe, and need a software solution that can connect them all. Look for one that’s cloud-based and can extend as far as your operations do, and that can unify multiple sites and scale globally with country-specific functionality.
Preparing for the Future of Your Organization
The right ERP solution can give you the data and visibility you require into your operations, and is flexible enough for your expanding business. Look for a solution that keeps up with innovations in your industry and a vendor that knows the unique ins-and-outs of your needs. Above all, recognize that having a great ERP can be a game changer for your business’s efficiency, security, and success.
Kerrie Jordan is Vice President, Product Management, Data Platform, at Epicor Software. In her role, Kerrie leads the strategic direction of Epicor’s cloud-enabled solutions to ensure they continue to deliver high-value innovation, security, and performance for Epicor customers. Based in Richmond, Virginia, she brings over a decade of experience in ERP, supply chain, eCommerce, cloud computing, and product development business solutions.
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