Decision Maker’s Guide to Vetting and Selecting an ERP Solution
Following our articles discussing the challenges that growing businesses face when using desktop accounting software when they should be embracing ERP, we would today like to explore a few tips to make the selection and decision process easier.
Catch up with our accounting to ERP series by reading our latest posts: The Hassles of Using Desktop Software in a Socially Distanced Business, Never Let a QuickBooks File Size Hold You Back: Grow with Confidence in the Cloud, and Are QuickBooks Workarounds Putting Your Business at Risk?
It Starts with Getting Users on Board
Getting from accounting software to ERP is rarely an easy task. Your people are used to a specific operating environment. The workarounds that we mentioned in our last blog have become a way of life. Your employees, who may be resistant to change, will say that the hiccups and hassles are just ‘quirks’.
However, this is a challenge you can overcome. Getting users on board starts with talking to them about their opinions and thoughts on how to better the current processes. Find out what the pain points are from each department that uses the current accounting software, evaluate which software and users would be brought into a larger ERP solution, and ask how you can help.
This will help you to not only drive the point home that there are better solutions out there, but will also inform your decision.
Use the Pain Points as a Guideline
With so many solutions available to you, the number of options available to you may seem overwhelming. This is even harder for companies who haven’t gone about a move from single-focused products to comprehensive solutions. It may feel like every product is better, but few are perfect.
Some solutions are better tailored to your processes than others, some have a flatter learning curve, and others deliver more customization and configuration. With user critiques in mind, you have a reasonably nebulous picture of your needs, and can generally piece together a dozen options.
ERP is a big market and in turn has spawned its own cottage industry of analysts and review sites whose goal is to help you understand your move. These companies are built on their word, and take steps to minimize bias, vet reviews, and take their own approach to evaluating solutions.
In jour journey from accounting software to ERP, you’re going to want to take the advice of the analyst reports and reviews to understand metrics for evaluation, reasons behind the decision, and recommendations from those who are in the know.
In the same manner that software vendors compete for customers, analyst firms need to provide value for those who pay to commission or reproduce the report. Often, this means that each analyst firm will take a unique approach to the way they look at software using clearly defined metrics to create an apples to apples comparison. Additionally, these reports often discuss broader market trends that can be used to understand which platform fits into their criteria.
Here are just a couple examples:
- IDC MarketScape Reports: Compares vendors on their capabilities and strategies to determine which vendors are leaders, major players, contenders, and participants. Their recent report, Worldwide SaaS and Cloud-Enabled Operational ERP Applications 2019 Vendor Assessment, evaluated 14 firms and provided in-depth analysis of each. Read more about this report here.
- ERP Technology Value Matrix: Written to evaluate vendors on two criteria (usability and functionality), the ERP Value Matrix explains how easy it is to get up and running with a solution and how much it delivers. Written by Nucleus Research, this can help you understand whether the software has a steep learning curve and whether or not it makes your job easier. Read more about this report here.
- Gartner Magic Quadrant: A report on the health and future of the ERP vendors you’re evaluating, this takes a broader view of the companies themselves, looking 15 criteria to determine a company’s ability to execute and completeness of vision. Get to know more about the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant here.
Though your processes may be unique in total, it’s likely that each process has been tackled by a system before. With thousands of companies having used each of the solutions you’re looking at, it shouldn’t be hard to see if a solution has been configured to the way you work. This is where user reviews come in.
User reviews are vetted for accuracy and honesty, often discussing the company’s journey to the solution and aftereffects of installing. Here are just a few places to look:
- G2 Momentum Grid Report for ERP Systems | Spring 2020
- Gartner Peer Insights | Reviews you can trust
- Capterra ERP Reviews
Bonus: Analysis Based on User Sentiment
One analyst firm went further, consolidating user reviews to create an emotional footprint, exploring how well a company delivers on user expectation. The Info-Tech Enterprise Resource Planning Emotional Footprint Report provides a comprehensive evaluation of popular products in the Enterprise Resource Planning market. This buyer’s guide is designed to help prospective purchasers make better decisions by leveraging the experiences of real users. Learn more about this report and download it here.
Test the Solution
Given that most ERPs do most basic business processes equally well, the important functionality differentiators are at the fringes – those functions and needs that pertain to your industry and your specific business. But the best way to see what this means is to get in the weeds.
Separate out and review the systems that have a solution for your industry. There are a number of software selection services and websites available that can help you whittle your list of candidate systems down from hundreds to a manageable handful. Your goal at this stage is to identify your “short list” of no more than 3 to 5 candidate systems that fit your needs. You should be able to do that in your review of the systems targeted at your industry.
After cutting down your list, begin to explore product demos. Discuss with your vendor and potential partner the things you want to see in a demo including the most important functions so that anyone who might use a product can see it in real time. You’re in control here, so ensure that before the demonstrator leaves, they show you everything you need to see.
Seek out a Partner
If you’ve made it this far, there’s one more decision to make—who’s going to help you get up and running. Though many ERP vendors offer internal implementation teams, these are rarely the top-tier partners for your business.
The implementation partner industry is built on personalization, local service, and customer focus. As they have dedicated teams to implement and support customers, these partners often make it easier to implement, configure, and tailor your solution than the internal vendor resources. For example, companies like Acumatica rely exclusively on a partner network to do this work, focusing the internal teams on innovation and giving you the focus that you can only get from a local partner.
The Right Partner Helps You Go Further: Just Call CCS
When companies move from accounting software to ERP, they are making a big decision that will impact the next decade of operations. The right partner can build, configure, and deliver the solution you need now and in the future, and if you’re looking for a local partner with the skills and expertise to make your ERP journey a reality, look no further than CCS Technology.
We were founded on the principle that technology should make it easier to run your business, and have spent our time in this industry ensuring our clients realize this.
We invite you to learn more about your journey from entry level to the cloud by reading Seven Signs You Need ERP Software, 5 Benefits of ERP for Accounting and Financial Management, and How to Improve Efficiency with a New ERP Solution. Read to learn even more? Contact us for a free consultation.