Opinion: 6 questions you need to ask of your ERP solution

Immo Bohm details what questions you need to ask yourself when considering an ERP solution

September 9, 2011

By Immo Bohm, Managing Director of Sage ERP X3 partner Afresh Consult

Do you do functionality, not complexity?

We’re looking for less complexity, but not at the expense of functionality. Do you deliver deep and broad first-class functionality, while remaining simple to implement and to use? Do you deliver all the requirements I need, but all within a simple, integrated design?

Are you integrated or interfaced?

A sure sign that you’re getting old is when you’ve become a system with all kinds of extras bolted on. Sorry, but software integration no longer means applications that work together. They should also exchange real-time information, share a common database and user interface and, more importantly, they should evolve together. Many ERP systems hide functional gaps by in a ‘modular design’, which often requires custom interfaces and complex maintenance. I need you to look instead for fully-integrated functionality for accounting and financial management, purchasing, inventory, sales, customer relationship management AND manufacturing.

Do you scale, or do you need add-ons?

Evolution means the ability for you, the ERP system, to grow with my business, without requiring costly upgrades or module add-ons. Modern ERP solutions offer an integrated design which provides all the functions your company needs now and into the future with no additional license charges – do you? I should simply activate the functions as needed, with it all there from the beginning. You should also be a flexible system that can be easily configured to fit organizational changes as my business grows to thousands of users.

Are you web-native…or just web-enabled?

Web-native means you should be accessible the same way in both client/server and Web modes. Some ERP software systems may offer a customized web connection to dedicated functions, but few provide the ability to operate locally or through the web in the exact same fashion. Think of the advantage I could enjoy when expanding my business over multiple sites, or as I develop relationships with premier suppliers, partners or customers…

Are you multi-country by design?

We’re working in a global village now. Do you natively support  a multitude of languages, allowing my users to access the system in their own language wherever they are…but with country-specific parameters, such as legal and market requirements?

What’s your cost of ownership these days?

I want functionality and ease of use from you, but your cost of ownership is just as important. Are you designed for rapid implementation and customisation, while still providing advanced features as a standard? And what is the cost of maintaining you, after all these years?

When the answers to these questions are considered honestly and openly, the facts may start to emerge: it could be time to consider retiring the hard-working, but now over the hill ERP system of the 1990s. And replace it with something able to provide sharper answers in the more connected, always on world of business today.

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