Because of the myriad options out there for Enterprise Resource Planning software, we cannot stress enough that your best option depends a lot on what you need the software to do, what you are using now instead, and the direction you see the company moving in the future.
As any software provider or vendor (and common sense) will tell you, the most important research needs to be done before you start kicking tires. What are the processes that are not going as smoothly as you’d like in your workflow? Where are the bottlenecks within the company? What kinds of planning would you like to be able to do that you don’t have the time or information to do now?
A great exercise is to write down the workflow steps from start to finish in your organization, both from an internal and external (customer’s) perspective. What do you get complaints about from customers? Complaints can be a big clue that there is a snag at that point in the process that can possibly be alleviated by a more streamlined setup. Plus, you get to visualize the big picture, which your everyday outlook may not allow for. With that information in hand, you’ll be prepared to have a constructive conversation about potential solutions that will fit your needs.
Looking at the steps and bottlenecks that you identified, make a note of what tools (if any!) the company is using now.
Are there seemingly millions of Excel spreadsheets hanging around, with no connection from one to another? Is there only one key person who knows what’s going on in a key area of operations? (God forbid that person gets sick!) Do orders have to be routed and input by a human, when it would be faster to automate? Knowing where all of your data is stored and in what formats will help your software partner craft the right solution for you.
Have you patched together a workaround system that has worked “well enough” until now? Make a wish list of information you’d love to have at your fingertips (historical data, projections, organized documents and spreadsheets, etc.) and think about how a good system will potentially alleviate stress, costs, and customer issues. When you have a picture of how the company can grow and continue to improve in functionality, not only will you have a better compass from which to steer, but that information will help you find the perfect tools to make your dream a reality.
At Parallel Solutions, we want to partner with you to make sure that the road to full ERP implementation is as smooth as possible. The first step is to make sure that we work together to find the right vehicle to get you the information and processes you need to be successful. Taking some time to look at what’s not working now and how it can be better will pay off in being able to craft the right solution to the problems you actually have. We work with a variety of software providers, so we can offer the best solution for your needs, instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach.
Mary Jo O'Neill