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Choose the Right ERP Software!

Posted October 18, 2013 & filed under Job Search

Choose the Right ERP Software!

ERP software can be the very foundation of lean-centric manufacturing or the bane of any manufacturer’s existence. These resource planning tools have helped make the coordination of inventory movement, point of sale tracking, and financial record keeping more feasible but they still aren’t perfect. Many previously released products are mired by real-world inefficiency and muddled, almost antagonistic user interfaces.

Robert Kugel with Ventana Research recently related a story in a blog post about the initial hit that a major airline encountered during the early stages of ERP implementation. According to Kugel, the pre-ERP system allowed replacement parts to be ready and waiting on the tarmac the moment the aircrafts touched down. On the other hand, the “efficiency” of the new system kept a “$150 million aircraft with hundreds of passengers aboard delayed at the gate for an hour or more as $15 replacement parts were laboriously checked in and out,” of the inventory.

In the face of these operational horror stories, software developers have been working to improve software capabilities and give manufacturers a reason to put their faith in these next gen ergonomic ERPs. So, when you decide to unload your archaic system in favor of a lean, user-friendly model, choose the right ERP software with these quick tips.

Don’t Buy Discount

ERP systems can definitely be pricey but you don’t want to sacrifice quality, longevity, or support for the sake of saving a few bucks. The ERP market is saturated with any number of ERP platforms, traditional or cloud based, for you to select. Many of them have seemingly sprouted up overnight. The question is how many will last?

Unless the vendor you are considering is doing something utterly mind-blowing, your money is safer in the hands of a widely recognized provider. Startups can be capsized by minor industry turbulence (unlike their more stable counterparts), leaving their clients in the lurch when they reach out for support. ERP brands with more clients will weather market trends for longer stretches of time and ensure that you can readily obtain 3rd party support when outages or glitches occur. Nothing is worse than going through the trouble of overhauling your ERP system only to do the same song and dance routine two to three years down the line.

Narrow Down Key Functionality

What’s essential from the start? What functionality can’t your employees live without and which features can wait for a later date? Often, you’re better off going simple at the start. If you construct the master plans for a sprawling system that just spirals out of control, you can easily lose thousands of dollars down the drain.

Most ERP systems emerging from mainstream providers are on the scalable side, allowing enhancements to be implemented down the road. That way, once you’ve determined that the system is operating the way it’s prescribed to do, you can put the time and money into achieving the rest of your goals. Plus, incremental improvements are less of a financial blow right from the start.

Keep Your People in Mind

An ERP system is essentially useless if it’s too dense and confusing for your staff to understand the ways that it works. If you can, get people across departments involved in the planning process. User interfaces shouldn’t be developed in a bubble. They should be subject to input from prospective users and their real-time needs.

On-the-go accessibility is also key in our increasingly mobile world. Cloud based ERPs with mobile friendly user applications are almost essential at this point, so your employees aren’t bound to a static work space.

Ultimately, as ERPs evolve from real-world feedback, we’re getting closer to a time when the entire selection process will be less of a headache. Until then, just following these three simple rules can keep you from running aground with a costly ERP nightmare.

by James Walsh

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