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Thoughts on finding best ERP for your Business

In most of my interactions with prospective clients, it is one of my favourite lines to refer to the process of buying an ERP as a marriage!!!

The reasons for the comparison is very simple because of the following similarities:

  • Marriages with very short courtship period tends to become disasters very soon
  • All marriages have a honeymoon phase that is followed by periods of miscommunication, misunderstanding!!!
  • Most divorces are really messy affairs. And even if you do manage to wriggle your way out of it, sometimes you pay for it for a long time!!!
  • Once married, though you regret it very early, sometimes you end up being married and miserable for life!!!

For most SME entrepreneurs, the experience of buying an ERP might mirror most of the situations listed above and hence the comparison.

The following would be my suggestions to those guys who have (wisely) decided to take the plunge…

  1. Before inviting an ERP vendor for a demo, do a soul searching and make sure you have answers to the following questions;
    • Why do I want the ERP? Do I have clear expectations from the software or is it that I am buying an iPhone 7 because everyone seems to be buying one???
    • What is the change that I want the ERP to bring to my business; in terms of process and in terms of money?
    • How much am I willing to spend in order to bring the changes stated in point 2
    • How serious am I about the impact that the ERP would bring to my business? Am I ready to change if I feel that the change will help the ERP succeed?
    • Am I ready to hire more people and the correct people (if need be) to make the ERP work successfully in my business?
  1. Once you have answered the above questions to your satisfaction, invite vendors for demos and evaluate the following:
    • Identify the requirements that the software should have to make it through the honeymoon phase. Aka, whether the software has functionalities that address all of your business needs today.
    • If the answer is yes, then evaluate if the ERP is capable of handling all the business requirements that your business may need over the next 5 years. This is dicey because, in order to do this, you need to be clear on what you are going to do over the next 5 years, but then I assume that each and every entrepreneur out there would have given some thought to it…
    • As is the case with any arranged marriage, ensure that the vendor has the adequate resources to implement, train and the support the installation of the ERP for a minimum of 5 years. Some of you may wish that marriages could have a similar lifespan, but then 5 years of running a business with a wrong ERP is sure going to be much worse than living 25 years with an incompatible partner!!!
  1. And though I am loath to this concept in marriage, ensure you have a “prenuptial” arrangement if not an agreement to clearly define the terms of the association as well as clearly defined exit policies that protect the interests of your company.
  1. And last but not the least, understand that it is not you who is getting married, but it is your brainchild, your business that is getting married. And you have the duty as a dutiful parent to ensure that your business is paired with the right ERP, one that helps your business grow from a small one into a happy family that is spread across the world.

A wise man once said, “Chemistry should always come before biology” … I can’t think of a situation where this is most apt than the task of choosing the right ERP for your business…

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