Committing to the wrong IT solution can have disastrous consequences for an enterprise. Not only is the investment wasted, but trying to operate with a solution that is incomplete or ineffective can frustrate and confuse your staff, disrupt your workflows, corrupt your data, and negatively impact your relationships with clients.
ERP is billed as a transformative piece of IT because it integrates all of your data into one place and reflects changes in real time. But like all IT solutions, good and bad options exist, and the bad options hurt you more than they help.
On top of your own careful research, look for these defining features of an effective ERP:
Fast and Efficient Implementation Process
No ERP can be considered effective if it takes a significant amount of time and money to implement. The process of bringing the system online should be as brief as possible and abide by a strict budget while ensuring that your technical and user education needs are met in full.
Flexible and Expansive Customization Capabilities
Your reasons for implementing an ERP are unique, as are your specific needs once it’s online. A system that can’t be tailored to meet your exact requirements for things like procure-to-pay software and supply chain management will be incomplete at best and disruptive at worst. An effective ERP will be flexible enough to accommodate your specific data and workflows, and expansive enough to grow and evolve with your enterprise over both the short and long term.
Easy and Intuitive User Interfaces
If your team – including both the end users and the IT professionals who administer the ERP – can’t figure out how to use its capabilities in full, it can’t be considered effective no matter how powerful it is. The best systems take a minimal amount of time to learn, integrate organically with your existing workflows and organizational structure, and promote buy-in and engagement from all levels of your enterprise.
Reliable and Transparent ROI
The best ERP system in the world is not worth your investment if it does not deliver a healthy ROI. Ultimately, this technology is meant to transform the way you operate and lead directly to growth, efficiency, and cost savings. Systems that are expensive, incomplete, or overly complex will only amplify your costs without generating new revenue.
Quick and Complete User Support
An ERP can’t be considered separately from the company that provides it. The system could be great, but if the team you rely on for implementation and ongoing support is not up to par, you won’t realize the full benefits of having an ERP at your disposal. An effective provider will work closely with you through every step of the process – before, during, and after implementation – to understand your needs and provide relevant, responsive, expert assistance on demand.
A good way to identify an effective ERP in the sea of offerings is to look at the experiences of others. For any option you’re considering, find out how effective or ineffective it has been for other enterprises, ideally ones that are similar to your own. That real-world experience can help you cut through the sales pitches and find the offering that will have the most realistic impact on your enterprise.