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ERP Say What?

Inventory management is the equivalent of organized chaos. It’s a necessary evil for handling your shop floor and can cripple your order fulfillment if not managed correctly.

But how do you choose the best system for your business?

Or do you know if you have the best system for your business?

When choosing your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software for your business, it should be the equivalent of buying a car or a house. You need to check out the mileage, are the school districts good, what are my local taxes like. Below we’ve compiled a game of “20 Questions” you should play with your ERP (or any software) vendor:

  1. What sets your ERP system apart from others? Compare this answer with overviews from other vendors. If things align, it could come down to price and support.

  2. What routine tasks or processes will be automated for my company by using this system? Assess whether this ERP will be saving you time AND money in the long-run.

  3. Is this system built for the cloud? Make sure they’re not taking an “old” system and trying to make it cloud based. This could jam up multiple systems in your company if they stop integrating.

  4. Where is the system hosted and by whom?

  5. Does the system have security protocols? Understand the liability of ransomware attacks or other cybersecurity threats.

  6. Are there modules to add on? You may not need everything at the onset but it’s nice to know you have options for expansion down the road.

  7. Is there support for data analytics and reporting? A good ERP system will provide lots of data for your business but understanding how to get it and interpret it will make all the difference.

  8. Does this system support my industry? If you’re manufacturing widgets, you’re going to need a different setup than a food distributor. The vendor should be able to demonstrate they understand your type of business and that the system supports it.

  9. Can they provide references and/or testimonials? A snake-oil salesman can tell you exactly what you want to hear. A tried and true customer of the product will be honest.

  10. Will their ERP system integrate with other systems I have? Do some of your own due diligence on this one as you need to “future-proof” your organization. Make sure this ERP will allow your company to evolve and grow with other reliable systems.

  11. How involved is the implementation process? Start to finish, how long until you are up and running. Even having a day or two of downtime can impact your business so make sure the vendor is considering such.

  12. Who needs to be involved in the implementation? Determine if the vendor is doing all of the legwork or needs someone from your organization involved.

  13. What kind of training and support are offered? The company should be providing hands-on training during implementation and offer some type of technical support for a period after.

  14. What is the vendor’s response time on technical support? While this can certainly depend on the overall issue you’re experiencing, it’s good to have an idea of what your down time may be.

  15. Are software upgrades included in the initial price? Companies may sell you their product but in the fine print note that upgrades (such as when Windows 10 goes to 11) may incur a separate cost.

  16. What is your guarantee / warranty policy? If they’re hesitate to guarantee any part of their software, it’s probably not reliable.

  17. Is the software licensed to the company? Licensing can be applied by person, by user, monthly, quarterly, annually. Get the details on what your limitations are.

  18. Who manages the system? Find out who can add/delete users and other company related changes.

  19. Does the ERP have an audit trail of user activity? This particular piece of information can assist when tracking any potential errors that may occur in daily production.

  20. How does the vendor see their product evolving over the next 5 years? Knowing whether the vendor has their own roadmap for product enhancements can tell you if they’re in it for the long haul.

SEWN provides these questions as a way for your company to exercise due diligence when making large decisions such as ERP systems. If you need connected with a reliable source who can talk through your concerns, contact your SEWN Regional Director for assistance.


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