Recommendations for Selecting a Distribution ERP Solution
What is the right ERP solution for your distribution business? Acumatica Cloud ERP has created an in-depth checklist to help you understand your options. Their hope, of course, is that you choose Acumatica, but the reality is they’ve done everyone a service by publishing the checklist. You could work through it and conclude that a different solution is right for your particular distribution business—especially as the industry undergoes a period of digital transformation.
The checklist is also a good reflection of the way we work with clients in discovering the best solution for their distribution businesses. It’s methodical and allows for the prioritization of needs. With ERP selection, it should never be a simple matter of feature-to-feature comparison. The best practice is to weight features by relevance to your business.
Overview of the Distribution ERP Selection Checklist
The checklist contains five categories of comparison for distribution ERP solutions:
- Productivity—How a distribution ERP solution can make your employees more productive in their jobs
- Functionality—The specific features and functions of the solution
- Technology—The underlying technology that affects user experience, customization and administration along with integration with other systems, e.g. logistics, HR and so forth
- Value—How the product maximizes features and functions vs. cost for the product’s lifetime
- Risk—How the product minimizes risk and facilitates security (e.g. network and financial security)
Using the Checklist to Select a Distribution ERP Solution
Depending on your business, you may emphasize some of the five categories more than others. Productivity, for example, is often overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. The checklist forces you to take a hard look at issues like how intuitive the interface is for users. If it’s not easy to learn, people might find ways to work around it, defeating the whole purpose of the solution. Other productivity factors include having a single database, multi-currency capabilities, wikis and so forth.
Functionality is a critical area for evaluation. Even if you totally love a distribution ERP solution, if it doesn’t do what you want, the solution won’t work. Functional check-offs span features like support for multiple entities, financial management and quote-to-cash workflows. Sales order management and cost accounting are on the list, as are purchase order management and inventory management.
In terms of technology, the checklist encourages you to probe whether a cloud-based solution is “True Cloud,” meaning that it was designed natively for the cloud. This can make a difference in how well the solution works and how easy it is to change. Responsive design is also a significant requirement, given today’s mobile workforce and customers. Other technical issues of note include database export capabilities and the presence of a full relational database. This latter technical feature can be important for integration with other systems, audits and more. The value checklist items refer to financial aspects of the solution. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) figures prominently into the value category, but so do non-monetary but value-oriented factors like scalability.
If you’re considering getting a new distribution ERP solution, we encourage you to work with the checklist. We can help you go through it, looking at how your business runs and how it competes to arrive at an informed, wise solution choice.
Additional Distribution Resources
Looking at 2020 Distribution Industry Trends with ERP in Mind
Benefits of ERP Software for Distribution Business Management