If you’re in the market for an ERP solution in 2022, I expect Google Search has become an ‘old friend’!
What are the pro’s and con’s of various solutions? What solutions best suit your type of business? What are the current innovations in ERP that could transform your business?
Whatever questions you’re asking, your first task is to identify what ERP solutions best suit your business. To help you along the way, we’ve compiled Aspera & Epicor’s top tips for narrowing down your ERP potentials vendor list:
- Start with Analyst Research
- Learn from Peers / Competitors – especially those in similar industries
- Identify your individual companies needs
1) Analyst research
ERP industry analysts like Gartner, Forrester, IDC, etc. provide a reliable and objective analysis of ERP vendors and products. They’re plugged into the current trends and future projections of the industry, and they can provide valuable insights and unbiased opinions that you won’t get from prospective vendors. They’re also trusted names within the ERP industry, and their data is often featured or cited in publications and other studies.
An example would be Gartner’s 2021 iteration of their annual report—“Magic Quadrant for Cloud ERP for Product-Centric Midsize Enterprises”—in which they placed Epicor Software in the “Visionary” quadrant. This position is based on a full evaluation of Epicor’s global ERP solution—Kinetic. The Magic Quadrant for Cloud ERP focuses on ERP systems that are offered in a cloud services application deployment. It covers midsize enterprises across all geographies with an annual revenue between approximately $50 million and $1 billion USD.
While it’s a smart move to take analyst opinions and data into account, relying solely on them may not yield the best choice in cloud ERP for your business. Say, for example, you’re looking for the best cloud ERP system for your discrete manufacturing business. Maybe you have one or two locations, but you don’t have the infrastructure in place to support some of the more robust software solutions used by large national or international companies. An industry study will likely not narrow its focus to something for your specific needs—they’ll likely evaluate all cloud ERP systems instead of just the cross-section of software that’s a good fit for your business. Analyst lists are great for thinning out the herd, but you shouldn’t stop your search there, thats why it’s important to investigate what your competitors / peers are using.
2) Learn from Peers / Competitors
Once you’ve looked at ERP analyst reports, it’s time to see what others in your industry are saying. Getting customer references from your peers is essential, because they can tell you what software they’re using and why they selected it, as well as give honest feedback on their experience. Speaking with users in your industry helps you learn the details of how existing or desired functionality might be handled or improved by the new system. Going back to our previous example, it’s important to reach out to other small-to-midsize discrete manufacturers to find out what they’re using. Find out what they like, what they don’t like, what works, and what doesn’t.
Seeking out analyst reports and peer recommendations will provide valuable perspectives, but when it comes to choosing the best cloud ERP system, your own organisational needs and growth objectives should ultimately guide your decision.
3) Understand Your Organisation’s Unique Criteria
Ultimately, the best cloud ERP system is the one that fits your business. You have to assess your business needs and define certain criteria that only exist for your organisation or line of work.
For example, manufacturers might require an integrated whiteboard-style production scheduling application that allows production planners to do their job within the ERP system, instead of settling for disconnected spreadsheets.
Retailers might require a solution that offers them real-time visibility into their inventory and provides a mobile point of sale (POS) system. It’s also paramount to choose retail management software that offers an eCommerce solution.
Distributors need to look for a software system that offers front counter functionality that can automatically enter customer order information—eliminating manual processes and rekeying errors.
These are just a couple of examples, but the point remains the same—find a cloud ERP system that fits the way you do business.
Gather representation from every aspect of the business that will be affected by the new solution. Together, note what works well within your organisation and what needs improvement. Make a list of requirements and determine whether or not these requirements are ‘need to have’ or ‘nice to have’ elements and use this to narrow down your vendor list.
Once you’ve identified your preferred vendor list, the next step is to assess their commonalities, advantages and disadvantages. Aspera recommends pitching the same questions to each vendor so that it is easier to make comparisons & we’ll cover that in part 2 of this blog.
Contact Aspera Solutions for clarification / support.
Please note that elements of this piece are attributable to Epicor – How to Choose the Best Cloud ERP Software