What to Expect When Searching for SMB ERP Software

Danielle Lobo

There are a lot of choices when it comes to small business ERP Software and it can be difficult to know where to start, who to trust and how in-depth you should really go. The process is long and requires a good amount of time commitment from upper management pushing you to seek advice from trusted advisors, websites or portals which can be a good thing if you want to explore all your options.

Consulting/advice websites are those you see either ranking their top 10 favorites or it could be one of those portals where you speak with a consultant, and they pass off your information to vendors they believe will be a good fit. This allows you and your team to cut out that primary research time. These advisors know the best software for your budget, your industry, your business processes etc. The caveat of working with an advisor is the influx of sales pitches you will receive. If you were to do the research yourself, you could go on a website, try to find the information you are looking for, and call or request more information at your own pace. When you work with an advisor, they are likely going to tell 5-6 vendors that might be a good fit for you, so expect to receive those phone calls within a few days.

Wherever you seek advice, keep in mind that the amount of information on the web is immense. You’ll read many articles and you’ll want to satisfy all areas of the business, but it’s advised not to fall into an “Analysis Paralysis” state within your search.

Analysis Paralysis is the inability to make a decision due to overthinking. This can happen to just one person who becomes overwhelmed by the decision or a committee of people who are just thinking of their departments and not the entire business.

Many business owners are sure about their decision to make the final call. Other business owners know how important the right software is to their employees and feel the need to include them in all aspects of the decision-making process. It’s a difficult decision to know what part of the process to include your employees and when you need to just step in and let them fall back. At the end of the day whoever owns the business should be involved in the decision-making process.

Now keep in mind, it’s always a good idea to get input from staff when looking into a significant investment such as software. They are the ones using it every day. But as an owner of a company, remember that you are the final decision-maker. When you get input from all departments on all stages of the decision-making process, you end up with a committee of people who are only focusing on benefitting their department. The reality is, there is no perfect software for any one company. There will be a need for customizations for parts of your team and processes will change that your team will need to accept.

Part of the problem with involving many people as part of the decision is prioritizing the business processes that are actually vital to the final decision. Again, this can be an issue with or without a committee of people but is more likely to happen with a group. Before you start your search and interacting with vendors, try to write down your most vital questions and your most vital pain points that need to be solved by this investment.

Writing down your questions and pain points can give you a clear view of what you are looking for. It is sometimes suggested to create an RFQ (Request for Quote) or RFP (Request for Proposal) to provide a vendor but expect to have some say no. Traditionally, these documents are lengthy and cumbersome to fill out and they completely disregard the ability for you to create a relationship with your vendor. Remember, your vendor should be viewed as a technology partner, not just a vendor. They should provide software and advice on business processes. Talking to a real human about the software and your requirements gives you the opportunity to weigh what it’s going to be like creating, for example, a HelpDesk ticket.

Again, searching for SMB ERP Software is an investment for your business’s future. It’s important to give your time to the project but also let the right vendor guide you. Small vendors know how small businesses work and you will be surprised by how much advice they are willing to give.