A buyer's guide to the top ERP systems
A collection of articles that takes you from defining technology needs to purchasing options
If your company is experiencing issues with disparate data and systems, communication disconnects between departments, operational inefficiencies and time lag, then it is a good time to consider purchasing an ERP system.
Beyond the previously mentioned issues, there are other factors to consider when starting the ERP selection process. This article presents several ERP use cases that can help you determine if ERP software is the right fit for your organization.
There are few areas of commercial software with more software variety than ERP. This gives businesses enormous flexibility in their ERP options, but it also makes the ERP selection process more difficult, since there are so many ERP choices.
Because there are so many different types of ERP systems, knowing your company's specific product, IT and operational infrastructure, and business goals is paramount before you begin looking at your options. Here are ten common ERP use cases that showcase how to choose your ERP software.
Cloud-based ERP for a small company
A small company wants to improve its business processes, eliminate the cost and the data inconsistencies of multiple systems, and improve operational efficiencies.
The company chooses a cloud-based ERP software that enables it to replace its systems and avoid making new capital investments into ERP hardware and software for its data center. The cloud vendor has the ERP hardware and software that the company pays for as a monthly subscription.
Specialized, industry-focused company wants niche ERP software
A company in a highly specialized industry -- e.g., food and beverage -- wants ERP that is tailored to its specific business needs and pressures.
The company chooses an ERP software system that is specifically designed for its industry. The specialized ERP saves the company time in adapting the ERP system to its business environment, and it also provides operational best practices for the industry.
Large company wants to expand support to two-tier ERP approach
One of the popular ERP use cases is one in which a large enterprise has an on-premises ERP system for its own internal processes, but needs a quick way to on board new global business offices and newly acquired subsidiaries to this system.
The company uses a two-tier ERP approach that features a cloud-based ERP version of its on-premises system -- or compatible software from a different vendor -- with localization capability for the remote sites and new businesses in different countries. Over time, the company can decide whether to migrate these remote offices over to its on-premises version of ERP or to migrate corporate over to the cloud-based version of the ERP.
Manufacturer needs ERP software for integration
A manufacturer needs to integrate its manufacturing processes. The company also wants to get rid of the data discrepancies and software licensing costs from using disparate systems for each function.
The company starts with a material requirements planning-style ERP that can solve its integration issues of tracking orders, beginning with order placement and origination, and then processing these orders all the way through the operations of manufacturing, distribution and delivery, and order fulfillment and payment.
Customer-oriented company needs per-project ERP
A company that does all of its work for customers on a per-project basis wants an ERP system that can track all its activities, resources and costs for every project, with the additional ability to predict project overruns or resource constraints.
The company chooses a project-oriented ERP that offers end-to-end visibility and tracking of all project activities.
Service organization needs multiple ERP functions
A professional services organization wants to better coordinate its finance, sales and operations. It also wants to reduce errors and operational miscues by ensuring that everyone is using the same data.
The company opts for a service-oriented ERP system that can track service engagements and record activities, resource consumption and costs as they occur.
Medium-size company needs better analytics
Another ERP use case is: A medium-size company wants to expand ERP for better analytics to improve its operational efficiencies.
The company decides to add a business intelligence component to its ERP system.
Medium-size company seeks finance-specific ERP
Another midsize company wants to shorten its financial close cycles and improve accounting accuracy.
The company chooses an ERP suite with strong financials.
Small company with an existing CRM system has additional needs
A small company has a customer relationship management (CRM) system in place for its sales and marketing, but then decides that it also needs systems for functions like accounting and operations.
The company chooses an ERP system that can address these new business functions, and which is also compatible with its existing CRM system.
Company with individual component of ERP wants to expand
A company's initial goal is to start with only an individual component of ERP, like CRM. Some of these individual systems are easier to expand into a full ERP suite than others.
Because of this, the company carefully considers the flexibility and scalability of its initial ERP software selection, even though it does not need all the functions immediately.
ERP use cases and systems are complex, and complexity increases the risks for any implementation. For this reason, getting the right business partners or integrators to help you with your ERP implementation is as important as selecting the right system.
Because ERP use cases, choices and vendors are varied, it can be easy to go off course from your goals. Make every effort to ensure that you keep your company's goals in sight, and always be aware of how your company is structured and how it functions. This will help you on your way to a successful ERP implementation.
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