Replacing outdated systems is essential as your company grows, and its original software can no longer keep up with the requirements placed on it. Outdated systems can cause big issues for any business, but what questions should you ask when you’re thinking of replacing them?
Your original financial package, such as Sage 50, Xero or Quickbooks, was probably excellent at handling requirements when the business was starting out, but the need to use additional software products as the company grows can constrain business opportunities and create unnecessary manual tasks. At some point in your company’s evolution, you will be asking yourself if now is the right time to select an ERP solution?
Changing systems is always a big decision. You will need a team of people who all understand the objectives, with a clear project plan and timeline. And, it sounds simple, but you need to know what you want to achieve from changing systems? So many companies embark on a digital transformation project without having a clear idea of what they want to achieve, and invariably these projects fail.
Who is in my team?
It’s important to consider the wide variety of skillsets required before you embark on the process of choosing a new ERP system. The person leading the process will need excellent project management skills to keep everything on track, drawing on the abilities of the other team members at the right time. It is useful to include someone from every functional department that will be using the system too. There’s no point having the finance team select a system on the basis of its reporting capabilities if it can’t cope with the requirements of the manufacturing or stock control side of the business.
Having employees with a deep understanding of their area of the business are essential on the project team to make sure everyone gets exactly what they want from the system. They are the ones who will know how they need the system to work for them, and this will help ensure the system is accepted by employees. The more it is used, the bigger impact it will have on the bottom line through the automation of manual tasks and repetitive processes.
What do we need the system to do?
If you’ve been struggling with outdated systems for a while you probably know how you don’t want a new ERP system to work. But do you know what you want it to do? This is why it’s important to include employees from each area of your business in the selection process. You need a clear idea of how they need the system to work for them.
How can you better manage your stock? What reporting functionality do you need? Can the sales team effectively manage their opportunities from initial inquiry to shipping and after sales service, if necessary? Would it be useful to be able to analyse the impact of sales promotions to support strategic decision making on future marketing activity and negotiate supplier discounts? What about analysing market conditions to optimise the production planning process? What about regulatory compliance?
There are endless questions you could ask before you embark on any digital transformation process but asking the right questions will help lead you to the right solution.
On-premise or in the cloud?
This is one of the most fundamental considerations. Cloud-based deployments have become increasingly popular over recent years for a number of reasons. Their subscription-based model is an affordable way to gain access to a system that will grow with you, future-proofing your business, while providing advanced functionality that is accessible from anywhere for an affordable monthly fee. The opex, rather than capex, model is particularly attractive when managing monthly outgoings.
The financial savings from not needing external IT support/contractors, and associated hardware costs from on-premise deployments can have a significant impact. Security is also an extremely important consideration, and cloud deployments can eliminate the risk of catastrophic and costly data loss. The risk caused by end-of-life software and hardware failures can be eliminated completely by running your ERP system in the cloud.
How will our chosen supplier support us through the implementation process?
It’s important to work with a company whose team understands your requirements, and who you feel you can work with as an extension to your internal team. Their team of functional and technical consultants may be able to suggest ways of doing things that you might not have considered, as well as how best to use your chosen solution to get the most out of it. Their project management team will work closely with you to ensure the project stays on track, supporting you throughout the process.
You will of course need training on the system to make sure you know how to use it, and ensure you get the best return on your investment. Training will need to be delivered in a way that fits your requirements, whether that is on an on-going basis throughout the implementation process, or delivered through dedicated training sessions, either on-site or online, to make sure that staff are confident using the system.
How can we measure success?
There are several ways to measure the success of an ERP implementation. Whether the project is completed on time and on budget are immediate and obvious measurements, but sometimes those measurements are more invisible and intangible. Employee acceptance of a new system is always a good measure of the success of an ERP implementation. The automation of processes and stumbling blocks can result in happier, more engaged employees, particularly if time savings mean they can focus on more meaningful work that they feel has a bigger impact on the company.
Does the system do what you wanted it to, and does it meet the goals and objectives that you started out with? This is one of the biggest measures – if you can answer yes to this one, then your new ERP system is well-positioned to drive the future growth and success of your company.
Are you generating cost savings? Replacing outdated systems will undoubtedly generate cost savings, and there are many ways a successful ERP implementation can achieve this. Whether this is a saving on IT overheads through cloud deployment, being able to negotiate supplier discounts through greater insight into the effects of sales promotions or seasonal offers, optimising stock levels in the warehouse so less money is tied up in keeping excess stock on premise, there are so many potential financial measures, dependent on the nature of your business.
How can Ascarii help?
As an SAP Business One Gold Partner, Ascarii’s team of functional and technical consultants has extensive experience across most types of industries. We work with our customers to ensure the smooth implementation and adoption of SAP Business One throughout their businesses, taking time to understand their requirements and how they want the system to work for them. We can recommend how customers can use the solution to get the most of out it, holding their hands through every step of the implementation process, with ongoing training and customer support.
To find out more about SAP Business One, and how it can help your organisation automate and streamline processes, create efficiencies, and save time and money, please contact our friendly team now.
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