ERP systems are costly. They also involve a significant investment of other resources to implement and maintain, including human resources and time. So when choosing a system, you want to go with a solution that will grow with your company and not require replacement in a couple of years’ time. Investment in accounting and inventory software does not end after the check is signed, and there are several options for extending the life of your system over many years, long after go-live. In order to get the most bang for your buck, consider the following:
Sign up for maintenance.
Maintenance is an extra option provided to businesses that can vary from vendor to vendor but is generally designed to cover the cost of annual software upgrades and keep the application under warranty. These fees usually amount to a percentage of the cost of software licenses and can be paid on a monthly or annual basis. The idea is that since most software vendors are continuously adding new features and improving the technology of their systems, every year or so they release an upgraded version of the software. Paying for maintenance means you receive these upgrades whenever they are released, as opposed to having to purchase a newer version outright. It makes the transition to new technology and features easier if you’re upgrading every year instead of every couple of years. When negotiating maintenance fees with vendors, pay attention to the costs to make sure they also include the cost of the actual implementation and consulting time required to manage the upgrades. If they are not included, these additional fees can exceed the actual maintenance fees themselves.
Choose a system that allows you to add additional features as you grow.
With proper ERP software, especially when moving from an introductory system or manual methods, there are potentially many benefits to be realized right from the start, before adding all the bells and whistles that come with additional components. In fact, there are several reasons why wanting to implement too many components from the get-go is a bad idea, but you should look for a solution that provides the option to add more in the future. This yields options for growing your business without having to increase human capital and provides opportunities for easily expanding into other sales channels and markets.
Work with vendors who are collaborative on developing new software and technology.
One advantage of working with a smaller software vendor is the ability to develop a business partnership as opposed to just becoming another sale. This can lead to a collaborative relationship where both parties work together to further develop the software and find new opportunities. From the vendor’s point of view, this type of relationship is beneficial as it gives them insight into industry-specific features that are important to their customers, and provides opportunities for them to develop new pieces of functionality. As a customer purchasing software, this means that your ideas and suggestions on new features and improvements are heard and often implemented in the software on a more regular basis.
Invest in a cloud-based (hosted) solution.
Although there is no right answer when it comes to which software implementation method to choose, there are certain potential longevity benefits to choosing a cloud solution. Since in this situation the vendor is responsible for maintaining the hardware, servers and IT infrastructure, hardware issues will not be a concern. A good vendor will always be upgrading to the latest and greatest in technology, so you will no longer have to worry about replacing the system when the technology is updated. With an on-premises solution, if servers and software are not updated on a regular basis, you may be forced to switch solutions if the system you use is no longer able to support new platforms and technology.