An interesting article came across my inbox the other day from Manufacturing Business Technology discussing that million dollar question: Is your ERP still providing the value you need to effectively run your business? The article has some great tips about thinking through your RFP process and how you’ll weigh the costs and benefits of a new platform as you consider an ERP upgrade.
Another piece of the equation, especially when you’re looking at your ERP platform that does so much to drive everyday business, is what do you have to consider beyond just the ERP platform itself?
It was probably our upcoming webinar that got me thinking about this (Shameless plug: join us next week to learn about extending the value of NetSuite Cloud ERP with the NextService field service application that’s a seamless, native extension of NetSuite.) because more and more, our technology does not–and cannot–function in a silo. Whether you integrate it through EDI or look to applications built on the same platform that extend usability, the ERP platform itself is just the beginning.
In the new world of ERP, whether you’re looking to move to the cloud or stay with an on-premise solution, there are some major considerations that go beyond the amazing sales demonstration on the platform’s key features:
- What applications are being developed on this platform? Sometimes it’s easy to think about apps as simply those little widget programs on your smartphone, but the application world for ERP is booming. Thinking about your business, your industry, and how you need to serve your customers, are there specific gaps that need filling? Let’s say you have a field service team, for example. Wouldn’t it make your life (and your team’s) easier if field service activities were completely integrated to your ERP platform so that everyone could seamlessly work through one login, one application, and one version of the truth? Even if an ERP platform has a field service module, it might not have everything you need. An application built on the platform gives you the robust solution you need with the peace of mind that it’s all built to interact with your ERP.
- Does this fully (and truly) support mobility needs? Forget the stats on how many adults carry around smartphones, consider how much business is now completed on them. Even if your team is mostly office-based, there’s no reason to upgrade to an ERP platform that doesn’t give you the mobile support your team wants and needs. Consider one of my favorite Luxent success stories, YETI Coolers. They integrated Salesforce with their ERP and were able to have a dramatic effect on the time it took their sales reps to create customer orders on the fly. In fact, inside sales reps saved 7 minutes per order, while outside sales reps saved 15 minutes per order: these are the kinds of results mobility and integration can drive so it’s worth asking how an ERP upgrade can get you there.
- How hard is it to integrate this platform with X? Whether your X-factor is Salesforce, an e-commerce tool, customer service portal, or anything else, knowing exactly what will go into integrating it is no small question. Your business probably relies on several key platforms and knowing how they’ll play nicely with your intended ERP can save a lot of time, money, and frustration. As noted in the example above, integration can have a big impact on your ability to work smarter and faster. Knowing what you’ll want to integrate and what results you need to see from your integration is an important piece of making the right move when it comes to your ERP upgrade.
An ERP upgrade is not for the faint of heart, but if it’s time to replace or improve your platform, just remember that what’s outside your platform is just as important as what’s in it.