Internal Planning is Key to Forming ERP Search Questions
Let’s face it, many articles have been written about companies “Outgrowing QuickBooks” or “Signs you need an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system”. But what those articles don’t usually talk about is what you can do to prep your team internally for an ERP software system. This is a comprehensive sales, finance, and operations system. As such, planning comes into play. Unfortunately, “planning” is one of those words that tends to make people groan. They know it means more work, lots of discussions, and loss of time. However, asking detailed internal ERP search questions is paramount to a successful ERP evaluation and implementation.
Would a military general or combat veteran go into battle without a plan? There is a reason that ERP implementation rooms are nicknamed “War Rooms.” First, leaders storm through strategy. Then, heavy system testing is done and current company practices come into question.
What are some of the right internal ERP search questions to ask for planning purposes? Questions like system design, usability, industry specific functionality, cost, and implementation assistance are just some aspects to consider when looking for an ERP system. I look around on the web, and I find a lot of system questions written by software vendors, but not a lot of internal company questions to ask or considerations that need to be discussed. Having talked and worked with many, many companies over the years during their ERP searches, I wanted to give some examples of planning areas and questions for companies to prep internally.
10 Internal ERP Search Questions to Get the Project Planning Started
- What does my company need and want to accomplish with an ERP System?
- Accessibility throughout departments
- Financial reporting
- Time frame for evaluation purchase, deployment phases/locations, and full usability
- What are the challenges of my company’s current business software? Why is it no longer meeting the needs of my company? Look at this from a department level:
- Production challenges
- Services challenges
- Finance challenges
- Executive/Owner(s) challenges
- Sales & Marketing challenges
- Purchasing challenges
- the Warehouse(s) challenges
- Research & Development challenges (if applicable)
- Human Resources challenges (if required as part of an ERP search)
- Is my company fully utilizing current systems in place. Is the current software potentially sufficient with added training? (I suggest talking with an expert consultant of that software if it’s an ERP system. Through this view, you can see if the current software works for your needs. Then, you can focus on ERP user training.)
- Does my company have specific compliance or auditing conditions? Examples: Medical CFR, Aerospace & DoD DCAA, Medical Records HIPAA, Internal export FCPA, Electronic Underwriters UL, Federal Airlines FAA, Finance SOX etc.
- What are the key aspects of the compliance in relation to software? What data needs to be captured?
- Why do I need an ERP to do in order for my company to meet the compliance? Reporting?
- Do we need a SaaS (cloud-based) solution, on-premise (due to data security concerns), or a hybrid cloud (hosted) system? Hybrid cloud platforms combine the best of on-premise with the best of pure cloud.
- How do you plan to care for your ERP system? Do we have IT staff in-house to support an on-premise solution, or is there an outsourced IT firm we can work with to help?
- Do we need a system that will work for 3 years, 5 years, or 10 years?
- How important is scalability?
- What modules would you like to add to your core functions as your company grows?
- Do you have multi-company or multi-site requirements?
- What are the key functions we need the ERP system to do? Look at this on a department level:
- What does production need?
- What does services need?
- What does finance need?
- What do the executives and owners need?
- What does sales & marketing need?
- What does purchasing need?
- What does the warehouse need?
- What does research and development need?
- What does human resources need, especially for the ERP search?
- What are the “nice to have” or “wanted” functions beyond the base needed requirements?
- What is a realistic budget and ROI for a new ERP system?
- Licensing budget (per month spending for cloud or for fully purchased or financed system)
- Implementation budget (research firms say to estimate 1 to 2 times the licensing budget for implementation costs)
- Software maintenance, etc. should also be factored into a budget
- Hardware system requirement budget (especially important for on-premise software which basically requires a data center in-house)
- Additional personnel / staffing requirements to support a new system
- Expected ROI?