Selecting a cloud-based ERP for your small business

cloud erp

How to select a cloud-based ERP for a small business

Enterprise resource planning software. It sounds our of reach for most small businesses. A system reserved for big multinationals with thousands of users and lots of cash lying around. Perhaps it’s because of the name? In fact, more and more small businesses are adopting ERP. Advances in technology (think cloud) bring new levels of productivity at lower costs to businesses of all sizes.

These efficiency-boosting tools aren’t out of reach anymore. But choosing the right ERP for your business is a challenge. This quick guide will steer you in the right direction.

ERP requirements for small businesses

The abundance of choice can make an ERP selection mind-boggling. For small businesses with limited resources, the majority of research and decision-making rests on a small number of shoulders. Defining what exactly you need your ERP to do is the first step. Every business is unique in its challenges so you’ll need to align your strategic goals with your ERP requirements:

  • Map the processes you need to streamline and prioritize features accordingly.
  • Look for system failures specific to your industry and look for vendors who fit.
  • Calculate your budget and forecast your ROI
  • Decide if you have enough in-house experience or need an independent consultant

Cloud vs on-premise ERP

One of the biggest challenges for small businesses looking to invest in new software has been infrastructure. Traditionally, if you didn’t have the right environment or enough hardware to support it, an upgrade would require serious investment. Even if you did have the capital to get enough hardware and on-premise storage to handle an ERP system, your time to ROI could make the whole project untenable.

Luckily, the cloud has come to the rescue. Small businesses can store more data and implement new business apps without killing the bottom line. Cloud services are typically sold as a subscription service, making it easier to get underway without huge upfront costs. Cash flow is king for small businesses so fixed costs are preferable to spikes in investment that can you leave you vulnerable.

Cloud subscriptions remove barriers for small businesses that want to invest in ERP. But that doesn’t mean you should jump in with both feet. Compare vendor prices and models carefully. Look at your growth projections and contract durations on offer. If you expect to grow your user base, make sure you choose a plan that gives you plenty of breathing room. Most plans are priced per user (or on a range of users). You might think that 10 or 20 users are enough today, but what happens in one, two, or five years’ time?

Shortlisting cloud-based ERPs

Now you know what problems you want your ERP to solve, that cloud is the most likely route and how to create a selection process, it’s time to put the wheels in motion. It probably won’t take long to whittle your options down to a shortlist. Once you have a list of requirements, it’s time to set about requesting proposals.

ERP options have now become more affordable for small businesses to consider. We have experience advising small businesses on which functionalities would best suit their needs in their new ERP solution. If you would like to learn more about how cloud-based business solutions can help grow your business, contact allonline365 on  info@allonline365.com or +27 (21) 205 3650.

www.allonline365.com

Resource Credit | ERPFocus

Gathering realistic requirements for ERP

erp requirements

How to gather requirements for ERP

The ultimate success in ERP software requirements gathering is not only to capture everything that the current business process does today but also to compile a list of realistic “should-be” changes. The term “realistic” is important, because if the should-be list is largely compromised of the wishful thinking of a few dreamers, then no ERP vendor will touch it. But if you can capture changes that are reasonable, and would improve the process, then you can simultaneously ask, “And how much would that be worth to you, if we could do that?” From that point, financial benefits begin accruing, and you are starting to compile the data required for a justified and proven ERP ROI.

Quantifying the financial benefits from ERP software has always been a dicey position. There is no accounting entry for “improved efficiency”, “better decisions”, or “greater understanding”. So if your ERP requirements gatherers are good, they will coax along the thought process using those intangible phrases to try to get to things that are, in fact, tangible. “Where will improved efficiency show up? How can you recognize improved efficiency?” (Side note: No rumor will insert more negative energy into ERP software requirements gathering than the perception that ERP is going to ‘put a bunch of people out of work’.)

When it appears ERP would, in fact, be able to eliminate non-value-added work, the discussion should be in terms of re-assigning people, not eliminating people. Every organization has a turnover that requires backfilling jobs. “What is the cost of bad decisions today?” may lead to some quantifiable discussion about inventory obsolescence costs, lost sales, or poor choices in product development.

Expect Tension

Typically, the tangible benefits side of ERP software requirements gathering will result from reduced working capital and associated carrying cost, reduced manpower, reduced obsolescence cost, greater material, and product yield, and service improvements leading to revenue increases. Expect some tension at this point, as ERP requirements gatherers push for every possible benefit dollar, and the business unit pushes back on commitments they may be called upon to verify, and that they may live to regret.

Relative to its eventual importance, requirements gathering is the most under-appreciated yet tactically critical step in the ERP selection process. The ERP requirements list will serve as the basis for all ERP vendor discussions., for the eventual ERP software contract language, and for the basis of your vendor relationship going forward. Get it right, and you have a common language for holding vendors accountable, for realistic ERP product comparisons, and for guiding configuration decisions. Get it wrong, and you will spend inordinate amounts of time trying to unravel what was really meant by ambiguous requirements.

After you have been through the ERP software requirements gathering phase, you will pretty much know whether you have a compelling business case or not. If you do, it’s time to sell the case to your leadership and get project approval so you can begin talking with ERP vendors in good faith.

If your business is considering an upgrade from outdated legacy systems, it’s time to start building a list of requirements for an ERP system. We can assist in identifying key problem areas within your organization and help you make the right decision on which business solution will be best for you. Contact allonline365 on  info@allonline365.com or  +27 (21) 205 3650.

www.allonline365.com

Resource Credit | ERPFocus

What to focus on when you’re receiving an ERP demo

erp demo

ERP demo scripts: guide and examples

Today’s enterprise software systems represent a host of challenges to commercial operators. This assertion is particularly true when it relates to ERP platforms, since as resources platforms begin to target and subsume within a company.

Consequently, to ensure that users start on the right foot, it is best to apply various ‘knowledge-maps’ that establish clearly stated operating requirements, thereby leading to solid decisions when they’re needed most – like the moment when an enormous check is about the be written. One of the most fundamental maps involves the design and application of software demo scripts when selecting ERP systems.

It should be understood that this kind of guidance should be driven by an inside out perspective, rather than the other way round. Many enterprises fail to adhere to this decision bias when buying new systems; and instead, end up settling for product demo script samples that are provided by salespeople.

As a core principle, this is a bad idea, and should never be applied. The enterprise itself is the entity that is going to have to accept a system once in it’s in operation, and that same entity is going to have to overcome, and/or pay for, any subsequent problems if the whole thing goes wrong, so  beware, since this requirement must be adhered to at all times.

Here are some tips to help you move toward your own tailored demo script for your business.

What do you include in a demo script?

As a matter of efficiency, scripted demonstration templates should be as granular as possible. Consequently, any module or task within a targeted ERP platform should be included. For example, here’s a very short sample of the information typically included in a comprehensive ERP demo script:

  • Global overview
  • Global functions

Individual module investigations should be added accordingly including:

  • General Ledger
  • Accounts payable
  • Accounts receivable
  • Cash management
  • Inventory

Within each major script heading, individually defined subordinate and individually defined tasks are typically included such as:

  • Specific feature sets
  • Related functions
  • Processed integrations
  • Individual security necessities
  • Utility operations
  • Report needs

Bear in mind, the aforementioned list represents only a small sampling of what a complete demo presentation script entails.

What to exclude in a demo script

For all the detail necessary to craft a proper vendor demo scorecard template, there are other elements that shouldn’t be applied at all. Here are a couple of ways to avoid these areas of weakness:

  • Direct product comparisons – every product is different in the same way that each enterprise is different. Focus on what you need, rather than what one or more vendors want to sell you.
  • Avoid the easy stuff – it’s pretty simple to build a software demo script that only applies to system features that involve current operations; but what about particular elements that apply to growth? The latter question is usually more useful, since considering future-proofing during a demo script round is a solid hedge against obsolescence later. if you always think forward than backward, you’ll be a lot happier later.
  • Don’t look for commonality between systems, look for diversity – when you’re defining ERP demo script examples ensure that you’re looking for sure ways to delineate differences between one system and another, rather than trying to re-validate the same wheel time after time. Literary sources suggest that Einstein defined insanity as ‘doing the same thing time after time while expecting a different result’.

At allonline365 our focus is determining your current and future needs, and that is what we focus on in our demos. What are your biggest challenges? What can we show you that will help stabilize issues and promote efficiency? We look past all the ‘fluff” and show you what really matters to you. Contact us on  info@allonline365.com or  +27 (21) 205 3650.

www.allonline365.com 

Resource Credit | ERPFocus

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