Choosing the right ERP


April 25, 2017 | 1:04 pm
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Any company that is into software development, cars or washing machines, certainly faces enormous pressure on devising strategies that will enable new businesses and enhance customer experience. The important thing however, is to adhere judiciously to safe and cost efficient path to innovation.

Thabo Ndlela, a non-executive director at South-African based IFS, an enterprise software solution provider, noted that going for the right enterprise application suite can provide a robust platform for innovation thereby enabling organisations benefit from new technologies, business models and user experiences over time while incurring little or competitive total cost of ownership.

In many companies, he said, the most important technology they may implement to run their business is the enterprise resource planning (ERP). Hence the key to choosing the right application is to ask the prospective vendors important questions like, does the software appeal to today’s workers?

“You need a user experience that is attractive, intuitive and efficient for any type of usr within your company,” Ndlela stated.

A second question will be, is the software easy and efficient to modify and maintain? Ndlela explained that the software should be tailored to fit a company’s specific needs over time in a way that does not impede upgrading to the latest release to benefit from new features.

A company should also ask if the software enables modular implementation.

“Choose software built on components that allow you to choose only the ones you need, and add new ones as you need them,” Ndlela noted.

Another important point to note is whether the software can be implemented as a global, single-instance application. Knowing this will help reduce complexity and cost while providing insights and analysis at a much faster speed, he said.

The right software should also include a non-disruptive upgrade capability. It should be seen as a platform, a technology strategy, for business innovation over time rather than an ERP only.

There is also the question of if the software can be expanded as changes occur in the business.

“A modern ERP system should offer a layered application architecture that facilitates the development and management of different types of code changes such as localisations, customisations, and configurations,” Ndlela added.

He also said the software should provide different deployment options. The software solution should be such that empowers full-suite deployment of deployment as either the backbone or point-solution for key processes in a two-tier application strategy that embraces the cloud and on-premises solutions.

It should also give the customer the right to influence the product development. The software vendor should ensure it contains a strong development approach where product requirements are collected and prioritized in close collaboration with industry specialists in the customer base.

Ndlela said that companies should also ask does the vendor’s research and development (R&D) organisation include a workspace to drive disruptive innovation.

“Conceptual products and prototypes will not always result in a launched product for various reasons, and that is not the purpose of prototyping. Ask the software vendor how they work with the innovation selection and development process,” He said.

Finally the company should find out whether using the software package offers references to customers. This will require asking for customer reference calls and site visits to learn from other experiences of collaborating with the vendor’s implementation staff, product development department and partners.

“Selecting and deploying the right business software is an important and strategic decision for any company. A starting approach such as the one I have outlined works very well for our customers. It can work for you too,” Ndlela said.

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April 25, 2017 | 1:04 pm
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