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Getting Started With ERP Part 1: Vendor Selection

For a company that has grown to the point where an ERP system is the most logical next step, there are enormous benefits to be realized. For example, the centralization of key business data and applications is a critical feature for the enterprise. At the click of a mouse, it is possible for management to view important sales analysis data to identify profitable and unprofitable items, while another click of the mouse can provide command of purchasing functions by automating the planning purchasing and ordering process. A good enterprise system will provide a bird’s eye view of the company--maximizing its productivity and profitability across-the-board.

Streamlined operations save time, money and effort. ERP helps achieve efficiency by providing one integrated system and eliminates the need for duplicate data entry. Key company information is entered once and automatically routed to all appropriate databases. In addition, this provides real-time access to information. For instance, if a product order is entered via the call-center, that same information is immediately sent to the warehouse floor, where the order is filled and inventory counts are automatically adjusted, providing an accurate display of what product is available for sale.

An enterprise system is critical for company expansion because it is generally easier to scale the system and add functionality. An ERP solution is a unified, integrated system that simplifies employee training with the use of one common software solution. This also facilitates enhanced cross-training opportunities and appropriate allocation of resources.

With an ERP system, traditionally all data is stored on one scalable database, providing easy access to real-time information—invaluable in today’s economic environment.

Additionally, a good ERP system runs on a reliable computing platform and provides a stable and secure environment. This is imperative for peace of mind, especially as it is the repository for critical company information. While enterprise software is often perceived as extremely complex, it needn’t be. ERP solutions should be simple to manage, easy to upgrade and readily expandable to support business growth, while at the same time facilitating easy employee training and reducing long-term expenses.

One of the most important components of an ERP system is the ability to extract and utilize key data. Effective, powerful data management tools built into an enterprise software system allow for flexible reporting options that include customized reports with the ability to save outputs in a variety of formats to match your company’s needs. In addition, ERP systems should incorporate Business Intelligence (BI) functions such as dashboards, therefore, eliminating the need to buy separate software tools to meet this

Essentially, ERP allows companies to improve operational processes up to a global scale, create efficiencies throughout the organization, expand relationships with suppliers, and continually improve customer satisfaction. This comprehensive view of the business provides decision makers with the ability to understand the consequences that one area of an organization has on another.

Vendor Selection—A Critical Component

There are numerous vendors in the ERP software industry, all offering your business improved operational performance. With so many choices, it is important to perform a thorough analysis to determine which solution best matches a company’s needs. A comprehensive assessment of the options will narrow those that can supply the majority of the required functionality.

The best enterprise software provides increased efficiencies, improved employee productivity and real bottom-line benefits, but it is also important to know what is right for your specific organization. Companies should ask:

• What functional specifications do we need?
• Is this software solution compatible to our company’s business model?
• How flexible are the applications?
• Can this software adapt to meet the growing needs of our company?
• Does this vendor have the requisite industry knowledge?

My next post will cover best practices for implementing ERP software as well as planning and timeline techniques.

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Tags : Business IntelligenceCustomer Relationship ManagementEnterprise ApplicationsERP