How to choose ERP software for your business, without the pain!

The mere thought of selecting software, any software, can put most of us off.

ERP software, unfortunately, is in the same boat. If you get it wrong you can waste a lot of time, money and goodwill.

But, lots of people survive this process and the benefits, when you choose an appropriate system, seriously outweigh the costs.

Is there a simple way to do this?

This short article is designed to give you some ideas on how you approach this with the least amount of time, effort and guesswork.

I can't stress that you need to perform your own "due diligence" with your decision but you can take the pain and hassle out of ERP software evaluation.

Get clear on your needs and wants

The first step I am proposing is to brainstorm a list of your needs and wants. Doing this with a cross section of your staff makes this exercise more powerful.

Draw up a list of features and functions and then determine which items are things you really need and which ones would be 'cool if it happened'.

The core of most ERP systems are the same. As software develops there are usually new features built and this will differentiate the systems. There could be some features that you must have. You need to be clear what the deal breakers are.

Fraction ERP's visual scheduling board (including capacity indicators)

Get a list of ERP systems to review

You will most likely have a list already. This could be suggestions from businesses you know, or systems you have been made aware of via the Internet or sales calls. If you don't have a list, ask your co-workers, carry out a quick web search or check out a comparison site like Capterra.

Draw up your list, probably with 10 to 20 options.

Carry out a desktop evaluation

Now we need to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Using your list of 'deal breakers', needs and wants to mark which options look like real possibilities.

This can be as simple as pass / fail. You want to get down to 3 to 5 options at the end. If you are struggling to get down to this level, you can weight some of the critical features if you need to come up with a basic ranking.

Organise demos

The next step is to have a proper look at your shortlisted options.

Getting your hands on the software and having a play with it is usually better than just a video demo and presentation.

Get to grips with each piece of software and get an idea for how well the software would work for you. Ideally, process a handful of orders from start to finish through the software. Try some 'weird and wonderful' orders to make sure it can handle your requirements!

Final evaluation

Now that you have had a good look at each piece of software you need to work out what the best option is for your business.

The simplest option I can point you in the direction of is this. Score each software option out of ten for the following criteria, giving you a score out of 40. 10 is the best / easiest for each item.

  • Fit for your business (includes the deal breakers and the flow of orders through the system).
  • Cost effectiveness (either the raw cost or payback if you can quantify the cost savings).
  • Support (access, response times and the people you will be working with).
  • Ease of implementation (downtime, speed to learn the system and any upheaval moving across to the new system).

The highest score wins! If this is too basic an approach, you can use decision matrices to be more definitive, but try this first. If you want to learn more about decision matrices and ERP evaluation, check out our free guide.

Make sure that your winner feels right too. Don't ignore your gut feeling in all of this!

Press the go button

Once you have a clear winner, it is time to get going. You will want an implementation plan, possibly with support from your chosen ERP supplier. You will need some time for learning and training. You will need to input your data and possibly change some of your business processes to fit with the software.

You need to come up with a plan that works for you and your team. Again, if you want some ideas check out our free guide.

Free trial period for Fraction ERP

We've been through many ERP implementations ourselves, that's how we ended up building Fraction ERP.

Our software isn't for everyone. We've aimed it at people that are either new to ERP or want a simpler system than their existing system. We've got some cool features, including the costing snapshots, free shop floor accounts and visual scheduling boards.

We offer a free trial period so you can properly test out the software. We recommend a demo first, which you can organise at the bottom of this page.

But, enough about that. We hope that this short article has given you some ideas on how you can quickly evaluate ERP software so that you can make an informed decision. A good system really can help you to grow your business, remove unnecessary admin and streamline your production management activities.

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