The old way vs the new way
We have seen a shift in the way people shop over the past few years. Access to more information online and on social media allows customers to thoroughly research and share opinions on products before they buy them. This shift covers everyday consumer items all the way through to business system procurement.
In addition to buyers having access to more information, businesses are now able to target potential customers with personalized ads, keeping their products top-of-mind, meaning purchasing decisions are quicker and can be made with the click of a mouse.
In this new world of research, review and ease of information access, how does this influence how you buy a solution? Let’s look at the different things you need to consider when buying a complete management system in 2022.
Step 1: Have a good understanding of what are your objectives with this new system
There are so many types of systems out there, so it is important to narrow down what you are actually looking for. It is important to know what are your objectives when purchasing this new software, for example; is it to solve a single process, manage your accounting details or is it to have a single source of the truth when reporting?
If you are looking for any of these, a good place to start is looking at an Enterprise Resource Planning system. Even if you are a small to medium sized business, you aren’t looking to manage resources or specifically plan certain aspects of your business, this is the name of the tool that will allow you bring every aspect of your organization together and is a type of system that can ultimately grow with your organization.
Step 2: Have a list of which products fit with your current internal tools
The best Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are made up of an ecosystem or suite of different sets of functionalities. From finance to inventory to job management, all the way through to customer relationship management (CRM), look at choosing an ecosystem rather than a single software solution. You have the ability to streamline your processes by integrating with existing software therefore reducing the learning curve, which can in turn help user adoption.
For instance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is an ERP solution that can help you get live business data and reporting at the click of a button. As a Microsoft product it natively integrates with M365 – think Teams, Outlook, Word and Excel integration, all products that you already use on a daily basis. Where you see the advantage of a complete system is that you can use workflows to automate your business processes and one source to store all information to help you better analyze your data.
Step 3: Make a list of what you really need
It is important to know exactly what you need from a new system in order to properly review and consider your options:
- What are your current business challenges?
- What functions does your current system provide?
- What function is your current system lacking?
- What are your main frustrations with your current system?
For example, we see companies;
- Who are importing goods from overseas, who need to optimize container load capacities, stock in transit times and for whom slow-moving stock tracking is critical
- Who are delivering professional services to their customers, where time sheets, accurate cost accounting and revenue recognition on long term contracts is their most important concern.
- Who are multi-company and multi-currency, with many business units rolling up into a consolidation, where reporting and board pack production is their current pain point.
Once you have identified your needs, it’s important to prioritize them before starting the search for an ERP solution that can meet, and hopefully exceed, those needs.
Step 4: Research, Research, Research
An ERP is a long-term investment, and one that will grow with your business so don’t scrimp on researching all the possible solutions. Not to forget, research is free, and can help avoid a costly mistake in picking the wrong system or partner. Here’s some ideas for where to research:
- ERP blogs (like this one!)
- Manufacturer/Supplier product pages
- Vendor pages
- User groups
- Regional peer to peer groups
At Bam Boom Cloud, we know how hard it can be to find all the information you need all in one place, never mind pricing. We want you to be as up to speed with what Business Central has to offer right from the outset as well as what it requires from a budget perspective.
Step 5: Get your team on board
When you are in the process of looking at changing your ERP solution, it’s important to get the right people on board internally.
It’s all about worthwhile engagement, and timing is everything. An ERP system impacts many departments across a business, so it’s essential they all have input in the decision-making process and are part of the implementation planning so that you can move forward with your new ERP system as a collective team.
Think about building a core team with representatives from each business area (finance, procurement, warehouse, sales etc.) so that everyone’s got a voice but without a room full of noise.
You’ve made a shortlist! What next?
Once you have narrowed down the product options, the next step is to arrange some demos. Everyone loves a demo, especially when you are reviewing a cutting-edge solution, right? Well yes and no. What is a demo? A demo is a chance to see a system in action, but it is also important to bear in mind that a demo can’t replicate how you would use the system in practice.
Perhaps you are starting small, and the consultant is showing bells and whistles you won’t need for a while, or perhaps you are looking for the demo to replicate exactly what you currently do in your existing system, and it makes you nervous when it doesnt.
Our advice is to treat your demo as a small part of the decision-making process. A demo is showing you the toolkit that is at your disposal. It is a chance to think about whether you are comfortable with the look and feel of the product, how other business users could work with it and how it integrates with other applications used in your business. For example, Business Central integrates fully with the Microsoft stack so is a good option for businesses already on M365.
Now that you have chosen a product that is right for you, it is now time to decide which implementation style best fits your business needs. There are different ways to go about implementing at different levels of services and price points which can also influence an organization’s decision. This is when you have to start looking at internal resources and objectives to help you with this choice, then have open and honest conversations with the different vendors to see who has the best fit for your organization.
By Bam Boom Cloud, specializing in small business solutions for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central
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