ERP solutions in the mid-market have evolved to the point that every one of the major provider’s software products provide all the basic functions. When purchasing ERP solutions, companies typically choose a comprehensive bundle of integrated software to meet their needs -- some combination of capabilities like financial, manufacturing, supply chain, inventory, HR, CRM and so on.
However, third party products do provide peripheral functionality. While these bolt-on products may not be needed by a large percentage of the software publishers’ customers, those who do need them often find the additional functionality is a core need for their business.
There are many things to keep in front of mind when adding new products into an ERP software solution and the right vendor partnership can be key in navigating these waters. Software publishers normally have bolt-on products which they prefer (and sometimes sell as a re-branded product). Additionally there are products that are marketed independently and often have no ERP vendor support, which can add workload for the IT department and be more challenging for integration.
When looking at add-on products, ask the following questions:
- How Is It Supported?
If the bolt-on software is sold by the ERP publisher, who is standing behind the products integration (middleware)? When troubleshooting, who gets the call -- the ERP publisher or the bolt-on vendor?
- Who Manages Training?
If purchasing the product through the ERP publisher’s authorized business partner, is the business partner trained on the software? Does or can the business partner provide implementation, configuration, training and ongoing support?
- Who Manages Updates?
Are the update cycles for the bolt-on software the same as the ERP software update cycles? Who is responsible to make sure an update on either end does not break the middleware?
- Who Manages Hardware?
What additional hardware is required to run these bolt-on products? You may need more RAM, additional storage capacity or possible a new server. How does this impact your backup solution?
- Will the Software Integrate with Hosting?
If you are running in a hosted environment, has the software been tested in that environment and are there any licensing restrictions?
- Can the Software be integrated with SaaS ERP solutions?
In summary, third party software can bring valuable functionality to the table. However, due diligence is needed to minimize future issues.
If you have questions about varying ERP software solutions, give Parallel Solutions a call at (440) 498-9920. We are a full service provider and our experienced staff can help assess all your needs from software to training and support.