First, let’s make sure you know what an ERP system is.
This is your accounting/business/enterprise software that you are using to find, track, sell, distribute, manufacture products and/or services to your customers. It “runs” your business! Maybe you use QuickBooks or Peachtree, Business Works, Sage, Macola, Dynamics, Epicor or some other software. ERP is an acronym for “Enterprise Resource Planning”. A solution that is essentially helping you make better business decisions since it can “oversee” your complete enterprise (business). Fancy term, important function.
Regardless of your industry, you use an ERP system. Maybe it’s specific to your industry or profession such as financial, legal, retail, hospitality, or manufacturing. Or it might be “generic” software like QuickBooks which is used by millions of small companies.
So, how do you know if you have outgrown your ERP system?
Here’s a quick checklist. If you answer NO to any of these questions, you should consider reviewing the current solutions available for your specific industry that use modern technology (we will discuss this in more detail).
- Does it run on Windows 10 or 11 or Mac?
- Can you email invoices, reports, and other documents directly from the system?
- Can the system keep up with you?
- Does it work on mobile devices (phones/tablets)?
- Can you work from home easily?
- Does it give you all the reports you need to run your business?
- Does it support ecommerce or website integration?
- Can you quickly find what you need with instant global searches?
- Are you happy with the system and highly recommend it to others?
- Does it meet the newer security standards with encryption and identity protection?
These are just a few of the common issues experienced with older software. Maybe you have other issues. If you have not investigated modern software in the past 5 years, you should read on.
Secondly, do you want to use your ERP solution locally (on premise), in the cloud (hosted), or hybrid (combination of both local and cloud)?
You can wait to answer this question until after you find an ERP solution you like, or it can be one of your criteria for selecting. Discuss this preference with your team earlier on in the process. It will make a difference on which ERP solutions you evaluate. There is also a larger up front cost typically with local based software versus cloud software.
While thinking about the local/cloud/hybrid option, consider your current Internet connection. Is it fast, reliable, both, or neither? This will impact your satisfaction with any solution you choose. Moving to fiber can solve both these issues (see our other blog post: https://www.justinc.com/2021/11/12/can-you-hear-me-now/) but with a monthly cost. This might be the best time to make that switch as well.
Third, what is modern technology and why should you care? Older software is written in a “language” that may be slower (inefficient), unsupported (publisher has discontinued), and inflexible (does not support customizations or custom reports). Newer software works seamlessly with your newer browsers, Windows, Outlook, and Google. Sharing data between programs or sending to Excel (Sheets) is clean and simple. The learning curve is reduced since modern software is more intuitive, flexible, and visual. Working anywhere on any secure device becomes a possibility. Productivity gains, better results and clearer answers are the many by-products of a newer ERP solution.
Finally, what are the next steps?
The best place to start is by reviewing your current use of your system. What “features” are requirements, must haves, that cannot be lost when you switch? Making a list is essential. Put the list of requirements in Excel and make it detailed. Ultimately, this will help you compare the different ERP systems. As you learn about a new feature such as SMS messaging clients, taking pictures of deliveries, tracking integration, or so many other modern features, you add them to your list. Maybe your current quoting is slow and painful. Whatever your pain points are, you add them to your list as well. You can also use the list as a checklist when watching a demonstration of the new system. The last step in your evaluation should be seeing the system in action at a live business like yours. Of course, every business has some unique aspects. Seeing it live and talking to the end-users separates the sales fluff and gives you the real-world validation that you found your next weapon in battle of business. I can guarantee that the right solution will pay for itself and free your business to grow even more.
About the Author
As the Vice President, David Wolf is a technology visionary and serial entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in the IT industry. David has achieved the highest industry security certifications of CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker), and CCISO (Certified Chief Information Security Officer). He enjoys using his technical expertise to help fellow business owners get the most out of their IT.