Thursday, December 28, 2017

5 Important Criteria for ERP Selection

Selecting the right ERP solution for your organization is a crucial task. It requires the right team with the right knowledge of your business requirements and enterprise value. Only then you will be able to select the right ERP vendor to provide you the right ERP solution to increase productivity, improve efficiency, and cut operational costs.Having strong knowledge about the business and its specific needs is an absolute necessity before shortlisting vendors or listing ERP application.

The market is flooded with solutions and almost all vendors are yelling for attention. It is difficult to make the right selection. Having a clearly defined selection criteria is the most important thing before ERP implementation.

Here, we discuss five most important selection criteria for ERP selection. 

1.  Assess Your Business Needs:

Make a precise assessment of the business needs of your organization before you opt for an ERP package. Sit with your technology and resource management teams to garner facts on the company’s growth goals, efficiency goals and speed-to-market goals. Growth goals may vary from company to company. While some companies may target at a quarterly growth of 40%, some others may aim at doubling their business returns by the next financial year. Certainly, the choice of ERP tool for improved business efficiency will also be different. 

If you are planning to have a market-ready product by the end of next quarter, look for an ERP solution that will lend it the required competency advantage. You will need something that speeds up the processes and meets all business requirements, before your competitors grab the eye balls.

You also need to have a clear idea on what tools you need. List down all the areas that needs improvement and find out if you need reporting tools, tools for cost saving and control, and energy-efficient tools. 

2.    Functional Software Requirements:

Assessing the functional requirements of your business is one of the most critical factors for ERP selection. To get a clear idea of the functional requirements, talk to all the stakeholders in the business. Have meetings or discussions, to understand their needs, ask for their opinion, do a survey, and come up with a business requirement plan. The plan needs to be reviewed by the core teams of the company and rectified, if required. 

If you are a first-time buyer of ERP solution, factors like ease of implementation, ease of use, legacy issues, and cost are some of the factors that will rock your boat. For an established business enterprise, growth potential, quality of documentation, support services offered by reseller, and customization are matters of concern.

3.    ERP Vendor Culture:

Make your entrepreneurial culture find the right cultural fit in the ERP vendor you opt for. If you are a small solicitor firm comprising of 12-14 company law advocates, go for an ERP vendor which understands your business needs and organizational culture. If are a large accounting firm with more than 5000 employees, opt for a vendor with a proven field record in customized ERP solutions for speeding up your business process, requiring minimal supervision and attention. Always remember that one-size-fits-all idea is unworkable, in most cases.

When choosing an ERP vendor, find out about the application areas they cover, subscriber base, implementation strategy, customer feedback, and support services. And if one vendor does not meet your business requirements, do not hesitate to go for another one. Never compromise on the choice of vendor. It may take a while to make the right selection, but the wait is worth it. 

4.    Appoint a Selection Team:

Having a winning team means half the battle is won. Form a team composed of skilled resources that have a thorough understanding of the business process, end-to-end. Also involve tech savvy people and people from different organizational levels, (such as VPs, managers, and even office clerks), ask them to answer to one-on-one questionnaires and have group discussions. Only then you will get a holistic picture of your organizational needs as well as efficiency of your resource pool. To cut the long story short, now youcan assess your business abilities and, accordingly come up with a plan for improved business efficiency. Having a strong selection team for ERP implementation is beneficial both way: you get what you need (not paying extra bucks for the lure of unnecessary tools and processes) and you are able to add better business value to your product. 

5.    Budget and Resource Constraints:

Last, but not least, expense of software implantation is one of the most important selection criteria for ERP selection. Take note of the ongoing costs as well as up front expenses, before making a choice. Make an accurate assessment of your business needs and calculate the expected ROI.

Select an ERP solution that is a fit for your business needs. Going for an expensive application package that offers lots of complex functions may be suitable for a business process with multi-tasking activities, not you. Buy an ERP solution that needs your very basic (and most important) business requirements and plan for customization later, as and when required.

After considering the above mentioned selection criteria for ERP selection, you will have clarity of what you want for business process improvement. Once you have made a resource planning, and with your vendor checklist ready, ERP implementation is nothing more than a cake walk.

Watch out this space for more updates on ERP implementation strategy.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Top 5 Tips for Implementing ERP in Startups

A good number of startups are looking forward to ERP for the industry-ready tools and processes it promises. ERP deployment is also more cost effective for a newbie as it streamlines the business processes, making operation much simpler. Also, a startup, unlike an established company has lesser areas of implementation, which means almost zero expenses for legacy applications or change management. Your organization (which already brimming with potential) can take off in full force, powered by ERP.

However, ERP implementation requires forethought, research, and references. And when it comes to choosing ERP solutions for a startup organization, the challenges are manifold. One needs to know the common mistakes, challenges, and risks, related implementation.

Here, we discuss a few tips that would help startups in a smoother and faster ERP deployment, with minimal risks involved.

1. Well-defined Requirement Planning:

Requirement gathering is the first and foremost thing that you need to for effective ERP implementation. Arrange a meeting with all relevant stakeholders (including end users and IT staff) to analyze the organizational needs. Focus upon the specific business processes and system requirements, when garnering the requirements. Pay due importance to cost and maintenance, as well. It is also advisable to talk to references who have already implanted ERP, for better insight. Remember the requirements of a startup company are vastly different from a big shot. So, plan accordingly.

Once the requirement plan is ready, look for a vendor, who can provide you with standardized ERP applications, with tools and features. Make sure that you have clarity on the long-term benefits and 1. ROI, before you invest.

2. Getting a Fool-Proof Implementation Plan Ready:

One of the common mistakes of ERP implementation is incorrect approach to planning. Traditionally, most companies follow a waterfall model, which focus on the end result, forgetting the small developments happening on the way. While this may work at times in larger organizations where a huge amount of capital and resources are invested, small and medium enterprises run the risk of incurring a major setback. If you are a start-up owner then the agile model would be best for you. While preparing the implementation plan, you have the liberty of reviewing changes at regular intervals and modifying accordingly. Make use of the agile methodology in creating a flawless implementation plan that involves end-users at every step to determine the requirements, perform critical tests to find gaps in the plan and get them corrected, till fully implemented.

3. Understanding Change Management for Good:

When you are implementing ERP in your organization, pay due importance to effective change management. This is more important for a start-up because it prepares your employees for a change, and more importantly, streamlined process. This would also ensure higher productivity and business success. In short, it makes the organization more business ready. The business transformation through ERP needs to be communicated to the executives, managers and employees, at all levels, well in advance. Necessary planning, technological preparedness, organized training schedules need to be planned for seamless change management across people, process and technology, simultaneously.

4. Having a Well-Defined Maintenance Plan:

Most companies overlook maintenance plan and in the process they also forget about loopholes in the business process or outdated ERP applications. This, in turn affects employee productivity and lowers down business value for the organization, a strict no-no for any start up.

With a well-thought out maintenance strategy in place, your employees are aligned with the maintenance process and regular updates. While making maintenance plan, also make sure that your organization is well equipped for planned and unplanned system outages. Having a diligent maintenance plan enhances business value by ensuring that the ERP system (customized to your organization needs) with the latest applications running smoothly.

5. To be clear about Customization needs:

One of the primary requirements behind ERP implementation was the streamlining of business processes through standard applications that anybody can make use of, such as generating invoices, collecting business revenue, and procuring supplies. Most of these business processes are standardized, tested for efficiency, and professional. You may of course, go for turnkey solutions with customized features for your organization. But remember it is not just the initial cost of implementation that matters, customized solutions require long-term maintenance and regular upgrades. Nevertheless to say, it becomes a recurring expense for your organization. Being a startup, it is advisable that you stick to the more standardized ERP applications for business operations, for lesser cost and higher business efficiency. With more customer success, you can switch to customized applications. By then, your organizational needs will also be more refined, helping you decide better.  

Migrating to ERP has become a sure shot success formula for most startups today, because of the cost-effective cloud-based tools it offers. They can also make their presence felt across multiple platforms, mobile, web or other hand-held smart devices. Organizations can start small and grow at their own pace, making use of benefits like easy connectivity, subscription-based payments, and remote resources.

Log on to for more insightful discussions on industry best practices in ERP implementation, success and disaster stories, artificial intelligence for ERP, and on getting higher business returns. Watch this space next week for more news.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Top 5 Challenges in ERP Implementation

Planning for an ERP implantation in near future? Worried about rising costs? Not sure about what is right for you? ERP implementation surely comes with a lot of challenges, even though its benefits are manifold. In the next few years, your business value will reach new heights and touch new shores of expansion, with successful ERP integration. With a prior knowledge of the challenges and bottlenecks, you may be better prepared. Here, we discuss some of the common challenges of ERP implementation.

Incorrect Requirement Analysis

ERP implementations in most cases fail because of incorrect requirement analysis. One needs to know the difference when an ERP application is integrated with ane-commercesite and a POS software. 

You need to know whether the ERP app needs to be integrated with CRM as well. However, in most companies requirement analysis is done by people with limited knowledge of ERP. Primary emphasis is laid upon the cost and faster execution. But unfortunately, the project fails in most cases as the requirement is not fully understood in the hurry of haggling about the payments. To have more clarity on ERP implementation, case to case differences, actual time and money to be invested, involve people with good knowledge on ERP.  They would advise you, guide you in better decision making, and thereby drive better results. Make sure the requirement analysis checklist is reviewed by a techie team, before signing on the dotted lines.

Lack of Proper Training

Following closely on the lines of the previous challenge discussed, lack of knowledge continues to rock the boat of ERP implementation. When your company is preparing for a major data transfer from the legacy system to a new ERP reality, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of the changes that are taking place, the new interface, and risks or losses involved in the process. You may arrange for a brief knowledge transfer session for all employees or anybody who would be part of the new system, before the actual change takes place. Not an elaborate training program followed by a test, but a simple 45-minute session by the knowledgeable resources, for all to attend. Training videos of the same may also be circulated.

Inefficient Project Management

Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle Corporation once said that taking care of one’s customers is important, but taking care of one’s employees is more important. This implies that you should have the right resources in your team for customer success. You need to understand their worth and utilize their full knowledge and potential for an efficient project management. Trust them, mentor them, train them and let them come up with a killer project management plan that will not only ensure a successful ERP implementation, but a better future for your business. Only with a meticulous project management you can achieve that, no amount of cost cutting or package deals help.


ERP is often misunderstood as awholesale package solution for a company. But unfortunately it is not. ERP applications are actually a framework with which a customized solution is built. This means, your requirements have to be defined well in advance and accordingly a customized ERP solution will be created. For that you need to define the workflows and do a capability analysis, beforehand. You might have to make a few minor adjustments in the application solution to meet all your enterprise needs. These adjustments or modifications differ from suite to suite, and might be required at the beginning or sometime in the middle of implementation. If you are prepared for a capacity planning, delays in implementation and time loss because of system outage may be kept at bay. 

Rising Operational Expenses

Overhead cost is one of the biggest challenges of ERP implementation. The initial cost of implementation is high, but the customization and maintenance costs are even higher. The more customization needs are, the higher are operation costs. Maintenance costs are of course, a necessary evil, which cannot be brushed aside. However, with an efficient requirement analysis and resource planning, much of this cost may be brought under control. Sit with the best brains in the organization to find out what you really for enhancing business value. Ask for only what you actually need. Do not go by the attractive fringe benefits or “added features” which the application promises. You might not need them at all. Ask for features that will add value to your product or service, attract more business, and position you better as an entrepreneur. That way, you will get the true value for your made-to-order features, without costing a bomb.

Now that you are aware of the technological challenges, your organization is well-equipped for integration. With a smart planning you can get your best consultants onboard to address the potential issues, discuss organization-specific needs, and perform a due diligence for a hassle-free ERP implantation. With their business insight you can plan for implementation monitoring and low-maintenance solution. Embrace ERP implementation with an open mind and ready infrastructure.

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