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Key Requirements Your ERP System Should Meet

by By Sunando Banerjee, Channel Business Manager Asia Pacific and Middle East July-2015

Openbravo helps companies with the Openbravo Business Suite that has built-in ERP, CRM and BI capabilities. It is built on top of a truly modular, mobile-enabled and cloud-ready technology platform that allows organizations to deliver business process improvements faster, be more focused on business differentiation and business process innovation, and do so with lower risks.

A well-designed implementation plan is the key to success. Tougher competition in the marketplace is generating the need for better optimization of resources, improved profitability and customer satisfaction. Companies are increasingly implementing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solutions to improve business operations and provide faster customer response.

The art of requirements gathering for an ERP software selection project is not a simple task. In fact, it can be the most difficult part of the entire process. Because of its intimidating nature, most companies rush through the process and, as a result, add a significant amount of time to the overall project timeline. Inadequate writing and validation of requirements can result in failed ERP implementations in terms of time spent, cost and overall vendor selection. To better estimate the time and cost needed to implement a product and ensure the product can align with key business processes and market differentiators, it is critical to really understand what the system requirements will be before evaluating a particular software package or vendor.

Facing fierce competition, companies must produce consistent results with the flexibility to adjust for changing market conditions. Those who refuse to recognize that their manual processes risk succumbing to their own limitations risk being surpassed by others who readily acknowledge the need to remove inefficiencies and waste. As companies become increasingly complex, finding an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that meets all needs may be as likely as finding a dragon. In today's global mobile environment, organizations are looking for an ERP system that does more than just blend with a traditional system.

To truly get all the juice from your ERP system you should start thinking about more requirements that may be critical for an organization. Here are few critical points, which shouldn’t be avoided when evaluating your current or future new ERP system:

Truly Agile: According to Gartner “A legacy system is any system that is not sufficiently flexible to meet changing business needs. Companies must adopt ERP systems that support effectively their requirements today but also allow them to stay competitive in the future by allowing to react efficiently and in a timely manner to very changing business requirements. Agility however does not only means adaptability. While evaluating your current or new ERP, mobility or analytics are two of the most important aspects you should also validate. Mobile-enabled ERPs allow to mobilize your business processes thus helping to increase efficiency and productivity. Analytics will provide you the capacity to react faster with better information and insight into your business processes performance.

Web-based: Web-native solutions provide a simpler deployment and maintenance approach and help to leverage the real Cloud advantages. This won’t be the case if a vendor requires a client installation or offers a hosted version of a legacy software. Employees productivity is improved since the solution can be accessed from everywhere and at every time and also facilitates collaboration with trusted suppliers or customers that can access the system easily. Customers will also be interesting on acquiring solutions that provide choice of deployment, either On-Premise, Cloud or Hosted and deployment flexibility so the company can move from one deployment option to the another as long as company requirements change over the time.

Adapt to the system your way: adaptability is one of the key capabilities an ERP must provide to deliver the promise of a true agility, especially to cover those most specific business requirements that provide a competitive advantage. To leverage company previous investments it is also very important to validate how easy it is to integrate with your current systems. Truly modular solutions provide here maximum benefits in terms of adaptability and ease of upgrade and update your system.

Low IT costs: IT departments can help to reduce unnecessary costs by leveraging on modern web-based applications as well as open source technologies. Using commercial open source solutions besides the clear direct license savings, companies gain higher control over their most strategic developments since they own the code since day one. For larger companies that count with the proper technical and functional skills, an open source solution provides them self-sufficiency, since the code is available and can be modified from day one.

Scalability: Functional and technical scalability is a must to accommodate future needs and support future organizational growth. Companies with scalable solutions will be able to focus all efforts on developing their businesses instead of fighting to adapt their IT systems and infrastructure. Check how easy is to add new available functionality or scale technically to effectively support a higher number of users or transactions without compromising your system performance.

A Friendly and Productive User Interface: In the recent years “ease of use” has surpassed traditional criteria such as “fit and functionality” to evaluate an ERP solution. A solution that is intuitive and easy to use can help boosting end users’ productivity and satisfaction, minimize training costs and finally increase user adoption and lower chance of ERP failure.

Gathering all the requirements is as much an art as a science and necessitates careful consideration and dedicated participation by both the organization and any third-party ERP consultant hired to guide the process. Furthermore it is important to understand that the upper management and project team members should be committed for the company to realize the benefits of successful ERP. Tech-savvy employees within departments can be given the convenience for more in-depth instruction to become expert resources for their fellow employees.