Step 1, define your problems and goals
I know this sounds bold but: “Nobody needs an ERP”. The main reason that you are considering an investment in a software solution points to one or more problems in your business that needs to be addressed.
Your perceived need to purchase an ERP/accounting points to the fact that you are trying to solve the symptoms and maybe not addressing the deeper issues. I have seen so many entrepreneur/business people go from one system to another and never be satisfied with their purchase. A lot of them did not even define what were the issues they were trying to resolve by investing into an ERP.
What is this main business issue that you think software will resolve? I recommend that you brainstorm all the problems, or unattained goals that you can think about. Then push for a bit more since breakthrough often comes after the obvious answers came. Shoot for 15 to 20 issues that your business is undergoing and that you would like to see resolved.
1. Profitability is not constant from job to job.
2. Vendor deliveries are not coming at the time required.
3. The time it takes to produce financial statement is too long.
4. I don’t know where the Cash flow is allocated in my business …
That list will allow you to sort through the clutter to surface some root causes that lie underneath these problems. Take the list you just generated, assign them a weight from 1 to 5, 1 being not pressing issue and 5 being the most pressing issues. Then group them by similarity, money problems, information problems…
This process will allow you to get a sense of what pressure points in your organization you are trying to address by wanting to acquire an ERP. By looking at these sorted issues you are trying to solve, can you see a pattern of root causes? Look deep, maybe a lot of the problems your business is experiencing is based upon improper communication between the sales department and production, for example. It is also possible that your inventory is too high and it is causing a cash crunch that make your vendor putting your business on “credit hold” delaying your deliveries to customers.
The next step is crucial and is defining the crucial success factors. In other words, what are the required elements that need to be in place so that the business can accomplish its goal or solve its problem? Sort this list to come up with what is absolutely necessary to achieve the required goal and this will be the criteria to insure that the solution you are looking at is what you need for your business.
From that exercise a detail list of required and optional functionalities can be made and presented to potential vendors. You will then be in a position to know if the proposed solution meet your business goal and address your specific issues. Always remember that ERP software is only one component of a business system.
In order to find the solution to the business
Sys·tem noun (sis-tuh m)
A regularly interacting group of items composed of Resources (individuals), Rules (processes), and Tools (software & hardware) – forming a unified whole to serve a common purpose, such as serving customers, managing production, and performing accounting
President, JBM Logic
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