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Small Business Tips

You've decided to start the search for new software to run your business. What now? How do you start? What should you be looking for? Who's doing the search? These are just some of the questions that should pop up immediately when considering new business management software.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations have a very good chance of going sideways, but some early efforts on your part can alleviate the chances of a failed selection and implementation. Here are some questions to ask.

What Do My Current Processes and Software Look Like?

Look at your current processes and software. Are your processes there to accommodate your current software, or is the process actually helping your business? This is critical. Do a high-level mapping of your processes (pen and paper works for this) and see what can be integrated or automated, or what you would like integrated or automated. Don’t make things overly complicatedsee what you need to function efficiently.

Do I Actually Need to Change Software?

Do you actually need to change software or does your current software do 80% of what you need with some tweaking? If so, the return on investment (ROI) is probably not there yet for your company to switch. Beware of the fuzzy ROIs that salespeople like to present you with. If you can’t easily accomplish a mission-critical process, you should be looking at software.

What If My Software Crashes?

What happens if your software stops working or crashes? Can you afford for that to happen? If there's even a small chance of that happening, get cracking on getting something new in. You are living on borrowed time.

Who's Driving the Project?

Who on your team is going to drive the project? The question of using an outside consultant always comes up at this point. Designate an internal resource to lead the charge. After all, who knows your business better than your own people? The consultant may well also have an informal agreement with a favorite software company.

What Are Other People Using?

Call your peers and see what software and consultants they're using. Ask them how they like their software and the level of service. You can always ask the software vendor for their references, but it may not be an impartial list.

Should I Use a VAR?

Do you want to buy directly from the software vendor, or go through a Value-Added Reseller (VAR)? There are advantages and disadvantages either way. Simply put, it is the one throat to choke theory when things go awry versus having multiple vendors point fingers.

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Start with a solid look at what you have. If it's stable and well-supported, evaluate if it's doing 80% of what you need. If the remaining 20% can be done through an add-on, or a third-party software, that may the best decisionprovided it can offer the reporting and data you need.

To better understand if your current software is working for your business, and to learn more about ERP selection, access our Beginner's Guide to ERP. You'll find videos, webinars, FAQs, blogs, eBooks, and other downloadable assets all in one resource center.

Access the guide