Upgrading or taking on a new ERP system is a mammoth task. Different sides of the business might look at it from different angles. It is important to get a system that will help the company achieve their goals and objectives. It has to work for everybody but most importantly, it has to work for the company.
From an IT perspective, they might look for different things from the ERP system than, for example, the Sales Manager, the Stores Manager or the CEO.
It is crucial that all parties are on the same page and a decision is made that delivers the best possible solution for everybody while helping the company achieve its goals.
It is important for the IT executive to know that the vendor, the system and the implementation are going to work and that it is going to be valuable. They need to know that they have the support of senior management, irrespective of where the request originated. If there is no support and commitment, their job will be very difficult.
It’s vital to involve IT executives in the acquisition process as they will be the people implementing and running the system in the future.
These are the top 5 things most IT executives will look at when selecting an ERP system:
- Trust, Reliability and Support
Your IT executives have worked with the best and the worst vendors out there, from the global giants to the smaller guys. They know how important the right support is, especially for something as big as ERP. They also know what good support looks like and what questions to ask. While many of the other execs might be impressed after a brief presentation, the IT executives, with a bit more insight, will probe deeper. They know how hard it is to manage when support is poor.
When the proverbial hits the fan, as it sometimes does, IT are going to be the guys called on to sort it out. If they are not happy with the support, solving problems is going to be frustrating and time-consuming. This could have a negative impact on other parts of the business as well if they are dedicating too much time to ERP issues. The entire company depends on smooth, hassle-free IT.
Be sure to get their take on the vendor and the system. By all means, involve other departments and senior management but make sure the IT people have a say.
- Ease of Use
Not all ERP systems are created equally and no matter how good the support from the vendor is or how much training they offer, user support will become an IT issue. The IT executives know this from past experience and they also understand how users learn and adapt. Many people just assume everyone picks up a new system quickly but this is not always the case.
The IT executives will want to evaluate the ERP system to see how user-friendly it is. What might appear really simple and easy to use on a quick demonstration is not always as easy as it appears. If the system is challenging and company users have difficulties adapting to it, this will become a major headache for IT. They know how to evaluate a system objectively to see if it’s as user-friendly as the vendor states it is.
Under ease of use is also ease of implementation. Although the vendor will do much of the hard work, IT still has a huge number of responsibilities. They need to ensure there is good security, backup and network capacity. They also need to get the various internal departmental systems talking to the ERP system without any disruption to workflow. This is a major challenge. Implementation is a process and does not happen overnight. It is a massive challenge for the IT guys and they will want to ensure it will be as painless as possible.
- Mobile Integration
IT executives are aware that processes and activity are increasingly done remotely. They understand the need for a system that caters to the needs of a mobile workforce. They also appreciate the company environment and policies with regards to bring-your-own-device (BYOD), security and other mobile related issues. No doubt IT will have some sort of mobile strategy and you want to ensure that the ERP will fit into that plan.
Mobile has become such an integral part of business life that many people take it for granted. They can do anything on their smartphones therefore work should be no different many believe. Few people but the IT department understand the complexities and challenges the mobile environment creates. It is imperative that the ERP system will function correctly within the mobile environment the IT executives have created.
- Functional Fit to Business Requirements
While each department understands the functioning and systems within their own department, IT are the people that have to keep all these systems working and integrating internally and externally. ERP will obviously improve and enhance this integration but make sure the IT executives are sure it will work.
Not all ERP systems are suitable for all companies. While most are extremely customizable, some will be a good fit for your company structure and current systems and others will not. Your particular industry or company might have very specific requirements that not all ERP systems can offer. There are an amazing number of different functions that take place each day across the entire business. IT are best positioned to understand whether the ERP system will be able to improve and streamline these functions.
- Scalability and Flexibility
While everybody in the organization is, hopefully, focused on growth, this brings change. Only IT truly appreciate how much change and disruption comes with growth. Any IT infrastructure, both hardware and software, has to be purchased with the future in mind. This means it has to adapt and evolve with ease. Your business could change radically in a short space of time, it could go through a stage of exponential growth. There is even a possibility it could restructure, meaning parts of the business get smaller while others change or grow.
It is essential that the ERP system is scalable to grow with the company and flexible enough to handle change. This is one of the major ongoing challenges IT executives have to deal with. They will want to be satisfied that the ERP system has the scalability and flexibility. A big part of this may include the decision to go for a cloud-based solution or to keep it in-house. IT will have a growth strategy in place for the entire infrastructure. It is important that the ERP system fits this strategy.
Selecting the best ERP option for your company is not a one person decision. Get the right people from across the company together to discuss and evaluate the options.
IT executives have a valuable role to play in this decision and they understand the environment and the playing field. They might look at things slightly differently than the rest of the company and there are good reasons for that. It is in the best interests of the company to hear what they have to say.