Choose ERP Software based on What, Not How

By James Gaskin

Smaller companies looking for their first company-wide ERP software have a bad habit: they want the new software to work just like the old software. If that’s the goal, why change? And large companies have an even worse habit: they pay consultants thousands to millions of dollars to rework their new software to work like their existing software. Addressing enterprise mistakes are too big for this venue, so let’s focus on smaller companies and convince them to focus on What their new software will do, rather than How it will do it.

Even when asking for new ERP software that will greatly expand the company’s capabilities to manage business processes, many cling to the comfort of the familiar at the expense of a real boost to their business. Today, few will pound the desk like a cartoon boss yelling “we’ll do it this way because we’ve always done it this way,” but the resistance to changing their thinking about the business will cloud the decision process. There are between 80 and 100 software packages that call themselves ERP. Choosing the one that seems to work how your old system did may not be the best one to boost your business.

One example? You need inventory reports and believe they should come from your inventory module, just like they do today. Why? Inventory may be counted in a variety of places, in a variety of ways, particularly if you both build and distribute products. One great value of an ERP system is the integration and better oversight of all business processes.  It doesn’t matter whether an inventory total comes from Inventory, Shipping, Build to Order, or Work In Progress, it just matters that it’s reliable.

If you’re rational and reasonable, you think this idea is silly and could never happen. Wrong. It happens in every ERP selection process. Look around at those who will use the new ERP system. Is each one as reasonable and rational as you? Thought not.

Another problem in the What and How equation is worker assignments. Businesses get into routines, where these people do these things, and those people do those things. Demanding the same people do the same jobs in the same way guarantees a problematic ERP search process

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