Once you’ve made the decision to move on from spreadsheet accounting or to upgrade your legacy ERP system, how do you choose the right ERP software?
With hundreds of ERP systems on the market, you need to establish what’s important to you before you can even evaluate any of them.
These are the key factors to consider when looking for an ERP system – as well as the right provider to implement it for you.
Cloud-Based or On-Premises?
One of the most important considerations is whether you want a cloud-based or on-premises system. Many businesses have embraced cloud software due to its convenience for budgeting purposes and its easy scalability.
A cloud-based ERP system also delivers excellent accessibility. Your staff can use the software wherever they are, at any time of the day or night. All they need is a web browser, an internet connection and a suitable device, whether that’s a mobile phone, a laptop or a tablet.
Compared to on-premises systems, cloud-based ERP systems also offer some crucial benefits when it comes to ongoing use. Cloud-based ERP solutions like NetSuite are updated automatically in the background. They are kept up to date, with minor feature improvements and major upgrades being made on a regular basis.
While some companies opt for on-premises systems to retain control of their data, modern cloud-based systems offer advanced technology these days. They provide secure and automatic data backup to the cloud, eliminating the need for manual backup scheduling or off-site storage management.
Cloud-based ERP systems also offer cost advantages over on-premises solutions. There is no need for expensive hardware or staff to maintain servers. They also eliminate the electricity costs associated with maintaining server rooms.
For the long-term success of your business, you should consider the scalability of the ERP system. You will want a system that will grow with you, to avoid having to replace it every five or ten years.
NetSuite scales easily. As you expand, you don’t have the expense of additional hardware or infrastructure. Instead, it is simple to add users and extend functionality. New staff and teams can quickly be onboarded and the system can be remotely configured, meaning no downtime while changes are made.
International expansion is another critical aspect where scalability is essential. NetSuite’s support for multiple languages, currencies and robust multi-country tax reporting capabilities simplifies your ability to manage global growth. This capability is vital if you are looking to tap into new markets without the complexities of adjusting your ERP system to meet varying international requirements.
As your business requirements change, you will likely also want to add new functionality. With NetSuite’s modular approach, it is simple to add modules to manage aspects like as ecommerce, human resources or project management. Additionally, the ability to integrate a wide range of Suite Apps further enhances your ERP system’s capabilities, adapting it to specific business needs.
Evaluate Integration Capabilities
You should consider how well an ERP system will integrate with your existing system. Seamless integration capabilities will ensure that your ERP works harmoniously with your other systems, enhancing your overall operational efficiency and data accuracy.
Compatibility with any software you will retain is essential. Assess whether the ERP system can integrate with your existing solutions, such as CRM, ecommerce and HR software. Compatibility ensures that data flows smoothly between systems, reducing manual data entry and the risk of errors.
Data synchronisation, too, is vital. Determine how the ERP system handles data transfer and synchronisation. It should provide real-time data updates to ensure that all systems are always up to date. This is particularly important for accurate financial reporting, stock management and customer data.
A robust ERP system should allow for customisation and adaptability to meet your unique integration needs. It should support various integration methods, including APIs and pre-built connectors that can accommodate your different systems and technologies.
Define Your ERP Features Requirements
So that your system truly meets your business needs, you will need to create a requirements matrix that details the specific features you want.
Think broadly at first. ERP always includes features for finance and accounting, but what else do you want it to do? For example, do you want CRM functionality, ecommerce abilities or warehousing features? Then consider each aspect in greater detail. What processes do you want to automate? What features need to fit your current processes – or will you use the upgrade as an opportunity to streamline your processes?
While many ERP systems have the same broad functionality, the details differ. Each ERP application will have a slightly different approach, with diverse dashboards and layout views, as well as entirely different features and behind the scenes operations.
Through a very detailed analysis of your business, and in conjunction with colleagues, you should develop a thorough understanding of what you want in a system. Strive for a system that will address any issues you currently have and help you to achieve your strategic and tactical goals.
Many companies choose to rate their requirements and rank them according to priority. Some features will be vital to the business, while others may be beneficial but not mandatory. And there will be plenty that you consider nice to have if possible.
Choose the Right ERP Provider
You may very quickly find the right piece of software for your business. But also pay attention to finding the right provider of that software. Your choice of partner will impact the success of your ERP implementation and its long-term suitability for your business needs
Assess the stability and reputation of your shortlist of partners. Do they have longevity and robust financial health? Verify their credibility, certifications and employee qualifications.
Look for a partner with a proven track record in ERP implementations, especially within your business sector. Request case studies, testimonials, and client references so you can gauge their experience and expertise.
You will want to choose a partner that can customise the ERP software to your specific needs and then adapt it to your future requirements. So, check which systems and project methodologies are used, to see that they align with your own requirements.
Pay particular attention to data migration if you want assistance with cleaning and maintaining data integrity during the transition to a new ERP system.
Finally, check the training and support that is offered. Consider your staff’s needs and assess the maintenance and support options that are offered. Assess response times and customer feedback on the quality of support.
Concluding Thoughts on ERP Selection
Taking all these factors into account will help you make an informed choice of ERP system and provider. You will be able to effectively automate manual processes, connect core business departments, minimise errors and ultimately elevate your operational efficiency and profitability.
To ensure that your ERP implementation aligns perfectly with your business goals, paving the way for long-term success and growth, contact us for a free business consultation or a quote for NetSuite ERP.