There comes a time (or two) in every growing inventory-centric company’s life when they suddenly find themselves faced with a staggering question: Do you stick with your current ERP system and simply invest in some upgrades, or do you switch to a brand new platform? While this question might seem intimidating, it’s actually quite simple when we get down to the bare bones of the issue.
It’s important to remember that an ERP system’s main purpose is to facilitate your company’s growth by performing certain necessary tasks, such as managing inventory, tracking customer information, and processing sales orders. What those exact tasks entail, of course, varies from business to business, but no matter what you’re asking of your ERP, if you find yourself spending large portions of the workday fighting with your ERP software or trying to find creative “workarounds” to get past stumbling blocks, it’s time for a change.
It all boils down to a few key questions, which we’ll cover here.
Does your current ERP solution provide you with the essentials? If not, does an update solve that?
Certain features are must-haves in ERP systems, but not all ERP systems offer them. The best ERP solutions on the market allow you to:
Effectively manage inventory
Easily manage multiple sales channels
Integrate effectively with your financial software, and
Connect to additional, necessary, third-party integrations
If any of this functionality is missing from your current solution, you’re definitely in need of an upgrade. Whether that upgrade is a current software update or brand new software altogether depends on your particular situation, but these are the big four to look for when evaluating your current ERP software.
Additional options to consider are whether or not your ERP software has mobile capabilities, whether or not you’re able to incorporate EDI into your workflow, should you need it, and whether or not your ERP allows you to be PCI compliant (this last requirement is more of a make-or-break situation — PCI compliance is essential for companies intent on success).
Are you looking for an ERP solution that will allow you to stay on your current financial platform?
Switching financial platforms can be a big hassle, but it’s often necessary to pave the way for future growth. Think of it like pulling a baby tooth. It’s gonna sting, but once it’s over with you’ll be able to handle bigger and better things.
Before shopping around for a different ERP solution or an update to your current one, take a good long look at the problems you’re facing and determine whether or not they’re stemming from your financial software. Many companies start out on an accounting platform that does well for them as they work to find their feet, but often those platforms need to be left behind as the company grows and conducts more and more business.
If you’re certain that your problems are ERP-related and you are happy with your accounting software, then it’s a good idea to consider updating the version of the ERP you’re already running. This will allow you to stick with what’s been working for your finances, provided that an updated version of your ERP will address the issues you’re facing.
If you are looking to switch financial platforms, this can also be the best time to switch ERP solutions. Look for ERP and accounting solutions that market themselves as compatible solutions. Make a list of must-haves for both, and start shopping.
Will your current ERP provider help you update your version, or will you be forced to do the work yourself?
Depending on the complexity of the update, the work involved might turn out to be almost as complicated as implementing an entirely new system. Does your current provider offer support for updating versions? Many companies do, but most require you to pay for that support, so you’ll need to consider that when figuring out your update budget.
Along those same lines, consider the support available for that brand-new ERP solution you’re considering. Technical support is an invaluable resource for every company running ERP software. A good support technician can save you hours of frustration and help you take full advantage of the software you’re paying for. While doing your research, read reviews on support departments as well, and keep this information in mind when making your final decision.
When in doubt, ask around.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease, after all. If you’ve been poking around an ERP provider’s website and you like what you’re seeing, ask to see a case study from them. Case studies are profiles of customers currently using the software, and they’re a great way to not only learn how other companies are using that software, but also to obtain contact information if you want to reach out with more questions. If a case study doesn’t interest you or you want more information, attend a webinar, or check out training videos the company has posted. This will help you get a feel for what using the software will be like, and you’ll learn additional information about the ERP solution along the way.
Alternatively, if you’re on the fence about whether or not to simply update your current solution, reach out to your provider and ask for details on what the update will entail and how much help you can expect when implementing the changes. If you have trouble getting answers to these questions, consider it a red flag. When dealing with software as complicated as ERP, you want to make sure that you have a solid support system in place when you need help or have questions.
Ultimately, the question of whether to update or migrate comes down to value, and the difference between the two isn’t that stark. Does the value of what you will get from updating or migrating offset the cost of implementation? Migrating will almost certainly cost more at the outset, but the benefits could far outweigh the initial expense if your current ERP solution is holding you back. Remember: your main goal as a company is to grow and become more profitable, and the right ERP solution is a vital part of that process.
Check out our handy guide for more information on the essentials you should be looking for when evaluating ERP systems.
This blog post was written in collaboration with Custom Information Services. Learn more about CIS at customis.com.