This content is part of the Essential Guide: The essential guide to ERP for small and medium-sized businesses

How midmarket companies should choose a new ERP system

Finding the right ERP software for midmarket manufacturing doesn't have to be overwhelming. It's all about knowing what you need.

A Google search of "ERP software" might just be one of the most overwhelming experiences a midmarket IT manager can have. The avalanche of vendors is enough to make even the most seasoned veterans run crying back to their legacy systems. Fear of selecting a new ERP system that isn't the right fit -- especially when there is such a wealth of options -- may seem to outweigh the business' need for more efficient processes.

There are many questions to ask when buying a new ERP system, each one critical to the success of the purchase. Does the system work seamlessly out of the box, or will customization be required to fully integrate it into the manufacturing environment? Does it require constant in-house maintenance, or can the job be outsourced or even hosted in the cloud? Will regular upgrades be necessary -- and costly? How much support will the vendor provide during implementation and afterward? Finally, concerns about change management and employee adoption often give managers pause when they're considering a new ERP system. Will employees be able to adapt to the new system quickly, or are lengthy training sessions needed?

Luckily, searching for a new ERP system doesn't have to be traumatic. All it takes is a software selection game plan and a few criteria for pinpointing products that fit midmarket manufacturers' business needs, company size and budget.

For midmarket companies in particular, making the leap to the cloud may be the way to go, because it can make production data more accessible -- and useful --than ever. But confidence in the cloud still stems from working with the right software and the right vendor. To hunt down software for midmarket manufacturers, industry analysts urge companies to go in prepared with the right questions. This part of the process is essential to finding ERP vendors that understand the unique needs of mid­market manufacturers.

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