Tips for Selecting an ERP Software Vendor

Protecting trade secrets and intellectual property is critical in any economy.

An ERP system is an organization's information backbone, reaching into all areas of the business and value chain. The right ERP software vendor will be equipped to offer the kinds of support services and tools that allow you to solve your most difficult business challenges, rapidly deploy applications and maximize your return on investment. When identifying and selecting an ERP vendor, keep these factors in mind.

[ Do's ]

Think long-term. To understand what the next 10 years will bring for manufacturing, look at the last 10 years and double the rate of change. Technology will provide information to the knowledge worker at any time on any device, and it will have to adapt to future business and technology strategies.

Select a proven solution. Leaders in the ERP industry place a higher emphasis on providing critical functionality needed by their customers. Choose a system that has been proven to work and add value while supporting business growth, new operating methods, market expansion and strategies of the future.

Focus on ROI. Look for vendors with a proven track record of delivering solutions that streamline, integrate, automate and improve manufacturing operations.

Look for manufacturing expertise. The weakest link in IT implementations is consulting expertise. Make sure that a vendor's staff of design professionals, systems analysts, technical, manufacturing and distribution consultants, and financial experts understands manufacturing and distribution inside and out.

Demand total support. To address a wide range of technical support needs and system skill levels, look for a vendor that offers a comprehensive support program. A support package is designed to provide the in-depth product knowledge and skills you need to learn how to use the system most effectively in your unique manufacturing environment.

Get to know your ERP vendor. Look for a vendor with a track record of consistent growth, financial stability and adherence to sound corporate and fiscal management practices.

[ Avoid ]

"Vanilla" systems. Steer clear of systems that merely provide the same functionality as every other system on the market. The best systems, as their customers will attest, include capabilities that are essential for manufacturers looking for new ways to be more competitive.

"We-do-everything" vendors. When ERP is practically all a vendor does, it is a better choice than one with divided, unfocused interests and business units vying for resources.

Software limitations. Make sure there are no limitations on the software's ability to accommodate small and mid-size high-growth companies or large (Fortune 500) corporations with multiple divisions. A business is designed to grow, and its ERP system should grow with it.

A "cookie-cutter" approach. No two businesses are alike. Whether you are modeling currently effective processes or reengineering and improving ineffective processes to support new strategies, five key elements of an ERP system's design give it the ability to provide a tailor-made solution for your company: execution of the implementation roadmaps; system settings; tools to customize your system; advanced technologies; and portals.

Source: Epicor (www.epicor.com)

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