It is always a very challenging decision when selecting an ERP vendor to support your organisations growth over the next 5–10+ years. The decision is nowadays even more important because of the trend to move everything on the cloud, it may be possible that you don’t need to go through the pain again for a very long time.
There are also so many choices when it comes to Finance Systems from Tier 1 vendors (Oracle, SAP, JDE), Mid-market ERPs (MS Dynamics, Sage), Industry focused ERPs, Pure Cloud based ERPs to more analytics/EPM/BI focused platforms.
I will give you my top 10 things to take into consideration when next making your decision around which platform to select from a very product agnostic angle. Here they are:
1. What functions will your system be doing? Do you require the full finance GL to sub-ledger transactional processing or just higher-level consolidated figures? You need to take into consideration if this is just a Finance system or whether there are wider functional areas that require modules to be configured such as HR, Supply Chain, Procurement and Logistics.
2. How integrated do you require your system to be? This will influence your decision as some vendors have a ton of pre-built connectors and others require a lot of IT data assistance to get your source information into the system. If you are within an industry that has a native connector from your operational system to the Industry ERP that may benefit your business compared to using a more generic ERP that requires a lot of customisations.
3. How important is it to be a true cloud-based system? This will also influence your decision whether the data is hosted on a public cloud vs within your own data centre or even on-premise. Some industries are quite regulated and limit the amount of data on a public cloud such as customer sensitive records. So, this is something important to consider.
4. What are your final output requirements? It is a difficult question at times, but sometimes the reporting capabilities can influence your decision on ERP choice. It may turn out you may require a secondary tool if the in-built reporting capabilities are completely inflexible to what you desire. Your operational systems may be able to handle most of your transactional requirements in which case a more analytical or structured cube may be the right choice rather than putting it into an ERP.
5. What level of collaboration is required? More finance teams are trying to improve their level of collaboration between one another and with the business. Understanding the system’s capabilities to handle this could be an important consideration if you are a large corporate with many layers of review and many sources of truth. The level of document control and ability to input feedback and commentary could be driving your decision.
6. How flexible a solution do you require? Not all ERP systems are built equally. Some are completely standardised and sold to be an ‘out the box’ standard solution whereas some others are highly flexible and configuration for literally any use case. This is a double edged sword so be careful how different your requirements are from the standard and always ask the question ‘why’.
7. What level of analysis will be required? Some ERP’s are configured using multi-dimensions and others are more standardised with just a Chart of Account and some more simpler reporting options. The decision around ERP could depend on having this capability to perform further drill down and analysis at a later point, whether this is within the ERP or another reporting tool.
8. How mature if the product and how much focus is being put on enhancing it? Biggest is not always the best. However, to future-proof your solution, this is an important consideration of whether there will be regular enhancements in the future that will benefit your organisation. Sometimes the smaller vendors can move faster and tailor their updates to meet your needs. This is versus the much larger ERP vendors who may only roll out updates based on the highest level of noise from customers globally.
9. Do you have internal capabilities to learn the system, or will it require on-going external expertise to maintain? Some ERPs and tools are easier to maintain than others. There is a general assumption that anyone can be trained up to be proficient in any finance system. However, this is generally far from the truth and therefore you need to consider whether you have the right internal team to support the new system and how easily new users can be trained up and even become super users.
10. What will be the impact on the business of the new system? Any system change requires a high degree of planning and on-going support. However, some systems are easier to implement than others. You need to take into consideration whether there will be a high resistance to change and how this will be managed.
I hope you got something out of my top 10 areas to consider when rolling out a new finance system.
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