9 Must-Have ERP Software Selection Criteria for Your Growing Business
Your growing business is hurting for an ERP system.
It’s hurting your business not having visibility into your operations. Not getting reliable real-time information instantly to support your decisions. Not automating so many repetitive manual tasks.
But with hundreds of ERP systems out there, how do you start the ERP software selection process?
We propose the following nine must-have criteria to start your selection process. If your software meets these, you’ll be well on your way to building a more resilient, responsive, and productive business.
1. A checklist of requirements focused on your essential needs
Every grocery shopper knows it’s not smart to walk into a grocery store when you’re hungry. But shopping with a precise and complete grocery list that reflects your real needs will result in a full cart that will uplift all your meals for days.
Similarly, your team needs to produce a precise and complete list of requirements for your ERP software selection process. Of all the steps in this process, producing this list is among the most important to your future success.
So sit with your team and give your business the equivalent of a very thorough medical exam. Ask yourself questions, such as:
- What are our business priorities? Challenges?
- What resources can we invest, i.e., budget, team, time?
- What processes or systems in our business are holding us back from cost-efficient growth? Which are working for us?
- In what areas, could we have better visibility? For example, if you’re an agri-food business, how easily can you follow up on the traceability of your products? Are lot recalls complicated and time-consuming?
Naturally, team members will have different points-of-view on these answers. It’s important that you arrive at a general consensus on which functions can be categorized as essential, or beneficial, or simply nice to have.
Creating these checklists will require considerable time and thought, but the resulting document will be the foundation and recurring reference of your entire ERP software selection process.
If you’re looking for help in building this list of requirements, download our guide, “Choosing Your ERP: The Essential Guide.”
2. Rich functionality that simplifies your business
As you evaluate the software, assess how well-developed the features are for the functions important to you. For example, are your financial people excited by what their modules can do to simplify their work lives? Do your production people feel that their planning and coordination is going to be so much easier than they had imagined?
Above all, you want to ensure that the ERP solution you're considering is an all-in-one, integrated system. That means that when you make a change to an item in one module ?? let’s say inventory ?? all the modules that relate to that item will be modified instantly (e.g., shipping, invoicing).
Top-tier ERP solutions also offer you the flexibility of adding “plug-and-play” modules that extend your capabilities when your business is ready to take them on. For example, you may want to stagger the integration into your ERP system of modules like the Warehouse Management System (WMS) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
3. Easy-to-use interfaces to reduce your team’s learning curve and enhance productivity
If your team doesn’t find your ERP intuitive to use, you’ll find they will avoid using it, just like the home-gym equipment which now serves as a laundry rack.
But when your ERP system is intuitive, it takes little training to use and simplifies your change management process as your team quickly adopts this new tool for their daily tasks.
4. Cloud-based ERP systems that deliver scalability on demand and anywhere-anytime mobility
No matter how fast you grow, an ERP system that’s cloud-based can effortlessly offer you the computing capacity you need, cost-efficiently, because you don’t need to invest in any hardware or IT staff.
What’s more, your cloud-based ERP system enables your team to conveniently connect with your business through an Internet-connected browser from anywhere, at any time. For growing businesses, this mobility and flexible capacity are very attractive benefits.
5. Developer-integrators enable you to cut out intermediaries
A great number of the ERPs you’ll consider are available through authorized distributor-integrators that will help implement your ERP project. But if you choose to work with them, you’re paying for an additional organization between you and the original ERP developer.
Unlike the software sold by these distributor-integrators, Fidelio is an ERP system developed, sold, and implemented by Commsoft Technologies.
This is a rare but ideal combination of roles. When your implementation partner has also developed the ERP system, you’re working with someone who has total knowledge and direct control of the platform. That means you get unbeatable expertise. Moreover, by not having to hire an intermediary, you reduce costs significantly.
6. Expertise in your industry to save on custom programming
Let’s say, you’re in the mood for seafood. Including a good seafood restaurant among the dining options you’re considering will greatly improve your chances of having a fine dining experience.
Similarly, if your small business operates in specific industry sectors, it would be wise to consider ERP systems that cater to the needs of your industry sector. With such an ERP, you’ll save a lot on major customizations in programming. Furthermore, you’ll enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your system is the fine-tuned result of years of collaboration between savvy developers and your experienced peers in the industry.
Fidelio, for example, specifically caters to the needs of businesses in the manufacturing, distribution, and agri-food sectors. Our developers created Fidelio based on many years of collaboration in these industries and the resulting knowledge of their best practices.
As an added bonus, Fidelio offers a no-code feature called “The Studio” that enables anyone without any coding experience to make small customizations. For example, anyone on your team authorized to do so can effortlessly add a tab or rename a screen to simplify their everyday work.
7. Collaborative mindset of a technology partner you can count on
Once you’ve selected your ERP system, the biggest decision impacting the success of your digital transformation will be your choice of implementation partner. In a healthy relationship with the right vendor, you can count on them for:
- Strategic counsel to help you meet your goals
- Tactical insight on project management
- Operational expertise in the technology.
Keep in mind that most ERP systems are used for ten years or more. So you’ll also want to be sure that the vendor has a solid base of experience and clear plans for the future development of the ERP system.
Naturally, your ERP implementation partner should have the resources or alliances that can provide your team with the support and training it needs. All these responsibilities and expectations should be outlined clearly in your agreement with your partner.
8. A budget that works for you
With some ERP vendors, it can be quite challenging to figure out what the system will cost, due to hidden charges and variable-pricing components.
Be wary, for example, of vendors who charge you based on your usage of computing resources. In such a case, your growth would lead to a higher volume of transactions and, thus, a greater cost. Such a pricing structure would also reduce the ROI of your ERP system.
That’s not how Fidelio operates. Fidelio is easy to buy. We charge a straight-forward monthly fee per user, as if you were paying a phone bill. This fee covers use of the software, hosting, and the service agreement.
This software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model keeps your IT costs predictable and enables you to benefit from the convenience and cost-effectiveness of periodic software updates that improve performance.
It’s important to note that your ERP system can significantly enhance your productivity over the medium- and long-term, without your necessarily hiring more employees. This efficiency contributes to a faster, bigger ROI on your ERP investment.
9. Data security that lets you sleep at night
Cloud services offered by the world’s major vendors offer an enterprise-grade level of security and compliance that is beyond what most businesses could afford on their own.
For example, Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service offer state-of-the-art security as well as backup and disaster recovery solutions, all supported by thousands of cybersecurity experts working together.
Furthermore, it’s good to know that with Fidelio all your data belongs to you, which is not always the case with some vendors. What’s more, our servers (in Azure) are located in Canada and, thus, comply with Canadian data protection rules.
To discover more of the benefits of a cloud-based ERP system, read our article, "The Best Cloud ERP for Your Business is Fidelio."
The selection criteria of your ERP software will have a long-term impact on the productivity of your company and the quality of your business decisions.
Working with care and foresight in the selection of both your software and implementation partner, you can ensure that you’re making an important contribution to the resilience and productivity of your business.