Now that the champagne has been polished off and you’ve rung in the New Year, it’s time to make your return to the office and attempt to shake the holidays from your mind. As your business returns to its normal operating activities, you may start to remember some of the inefficiencies you escaped and pushed to the back of your mind during your vacation. This is frequently when many companies start to proactively think about implementing new software to improve their outdated processes. As you prepare your company to search for new ERP software, here are 3 important questions that you will need to answer:
Cloud or On-Premises Installation?
A question as old as time itself (if time started 6 or 7 years ago), it’s a question that has plagued business decision makers tasked with finding a new ERP software system. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not black and white, and is rather dependent on a number of different factors. We see a lot of companies select cloud hosted software as opposed to on-premises for convenience. By choosing software hosted over the cloud you avoid having to purchase new servers in addition to eliminating the need to employ the resources required to maintain those servers (i.e. IT staff). For many smaller start-ups or growing companies, the monthly hosted license fees associated with cloud software, are often more ideal than a large initial investment needed when purchasing the software outright.
But just because the cloud option makes sense for one company, doesn’t mean it will make sense for every other. Perhaps you are a large company with both financial and IT resources readily available. In this situation it may be more ideal to make one large investment and implement the software on-premises to reduce the ongoing monthly fees. Available financial resources, in addition to other factors such as poor internet coverage, may make on-premises a more suitable option.
Whatever option you select, it is important to note that there is no cookie cutter solution to this problem. Each individual company will need to sit down and assess their processes and current situation to arrive at a conclusion of what is the most ideal installation method for them specifically.
Customizable or Out-of-the-Box Software?
This is another difficult question that businesses must answer. For the most part, Out-Of-The-Box software will contain the basic features that drive most businesses to search for software in the first place. Basic accounting, inventory, & contact management features will come standard in many ERP packages, making out-of-the-box software particularly attractive. Unfortunately, just as when deciding between cloud and on-premises software, it is important to keep in mind that no two businesses are alike. Similar businesses may share similar processes; however, there are always unique traits to every business. This is where the flexibility of customizable software is very helpful. Although it will almost certainly be more costly, some software developers will work with your business to develop custom components to meet your unique business needs. These packages will offer both the standard features as well as the more unique components to provide a complete solution, albeit at a higher price point.
Once again the answer to the debate between customizable and out-of-the-box software is a situational problem. If you believe all your needs can be met with the features contained in an out-of-the-box software system, then that is the right decision for your business. Whereas another company may have additional features that they need, making a customizable software package the better decision for that business.
Should You Purchase from a Small Vendor or a Larger One?
Some people feel safer choosing a big vendor because of their large user base and seemingly plentiful support staff to handle any inquiries. Others stray away from larger companies for fear of being ‘a little fish in a big pond’, in that they won’t receive the personalized support that many smaller vendors are able to provide. The answer to this question seems more black and white. Whether it’s a smaller vendor or larger one; choose the one that cares about growing your business as much as you do. You want a vendor that will take the time to learn your business, specifically what drives your success and any areas for improvement. If you can find a vendor who cares this much and acts more as a business partner than a software vendor, it shouldn’t matter if they are small or large.
As you begin to think about new software, keep these questions in mind as they will most certainly come up as you start the ERP software search process. Although some of the questions are not so black and white, to answer each question you will undoubtedly have to sit down as a team and assess every aspect of your business. It will be time consuming and at times frustrating, but when it’s complete your business will be set up to reach unprecedented new heights.