How to choose ERP system?

The selection of an ERP system is one of the most significant and the most difficult stage of ERP system implementation. The way to make this task easier is to hire a consultancy agency which can analyse company needs professionally, specify the setup of a new system and propose a specific system. Such an approach to the problem is still rare on our market, as it incurs huge costs and requires great trust in the consultancy agency. In Poland, there are still no companies that provide this type of service and Polish customers eagerly await the appearance of reliable and professional consultancy companies on the local market.

 If a company wants to select a system on its own, the best way to start is to appoint a steering committee for the project team. As its first task, such committee should set goals and define the scope of the implementation project, which is the list of business processes that the implementation project involves. It is necessary to appoint those persons responsible for specific implementation areas i.e. key users and include them in an implementation team. Key users are responsible for to specify and create a detailed list of processes included in the implementation project. Only at this stage, is the specification of criteria for system selection possible.

 It is noteworthy that the specification of accurate criteria for system selection is crucial to a final decision. Unfortunately, there are no universal solutions. Therefore, it is recommended to select a system in two steps.

 At the first stage, the type of ERP application the company requires should be determined. The next stage involves selecting a specific application and its provider.

 Currently, ERP systems are primarily classified based on IDE (Integrated Development Environment) which is or is not incorporated within the system. Closed systems (those which do not incorporate IDE) are provided as a complete application. These are cheaper, and their implementation is relatively easy, involving only user training and system setup. However, such applications are difficult to modify and therefore they should be selected based on their functionality. If the process list is not compliant with the functionality of the closed ERP system, the system should be rejected. The use of closed ERP systems is limited to business organisations with typical business processes (usually small companies).

 For companies that have worked out their own solutions for business processes or have their own concept on how to accomplish their mission, it is recommended to select an ERP application with an embedded IDE. The only example of such an application incorporating their own modern IDE are Microsoft Dynamics products. GARDENS provided by GARDENS-SOFTWARE is the only such product on the Polish market..

 Specific integrated development environment enables you to adjust an ERP application to company requirements. Customisation and creating new functionality are an integral part of the process of implementing such system. The standard functionality of IDE systems provides a basis to develop a unique solution that is ideally-tailored to the customer’s requirements. Such flexibility of the system totally changes implementation methodology and selection criteria. The standard functionality is no longer a decisive factor for selection. The functionality can be modified and enhanced quickly and safely, and consequently at lower cost.

 The typical mistake made when selecting an ERP system including IDE is to apply selection criteria used for closed systems. IDE applications are rejected due to a lack of a standard functionality. However, this approach reveals insufficient competence of the implementation team as the system enables you to implement missing components using the development platform. In such a case, the evaluation of the system's efficiency and the experience of a system provider are the most accurate criteria. The system and its provider should be verified on the basis of the references provided and proposed implementation methodology.

 Implementing an ERP application with IDE is incomparably more complicated than implementing a closed system. Analysing each implementation stage and clear assignment of responsibilities are key factors for success. In order to manage the implementation process efficiently, it is important to specify control point and quality control indicators. It is also worth spending some time on verification of implementation documentation templates. Accurately selected methodology should be based on logically planned stages involving clear responsibilities of the provider and customer with specific tasks and deadlines of each party. When evaluating the documentation, it is necessary to verify it against prevailing standards (FRD, GAP/FIT analyses), check its comprehensibility and time-consumption need for its preparation. The customer may verify the efficiency of IDE and the provider’s experience by asking for a proposal including a prototype of a strategic business process.  The quality and time spent on developing the prototype can constitute two criteria that provide the most accurate evaluation of the proposed system and its provider.

 Summing up, as far as closed ERP systems are concerned, functionality and price are the key selection factors. However, for IDE systems the following selection criteria should be applied:

  • An efficient and optimal ERP platform (flexibility, development and safety)
  • Accurately selected implementation methodology
  • An experienced provider
  • Base functionality compliant to standards
  • Prices and fees.