Last month, our President, Anita Seymour, led a roundtable discussion about ERP software and its place in the elevator industry at the National Association of Elevator Contractors Education Conference in Carlsbad, California. The goal of the talk was to share insights on how to choose the right ERP and make it work for your company. As ERPs continue to grow and evolve, so does their importance within a business. There are more opportunities to utilize this software to streamline day-to-day activities, improve planning and organization, and develop or expand your company. (You can also learn more about ERP software and the essential features it must have here.)
Anita was joined by elevator contractors and elevator business owners to discuss key questions including, How do you pick an ERP that is right for your business? What questions should you ask a potential software provider? Why should you make the leap and switch to a new ERP? Here are some of the highlights compiled from the roundtable talk.
DON’T pick an ERP that’s right for your business today
You shouldn’t select an ERP system based on where you are now, but from where you want to be. Ask yourself this question: What are your company’s long-term goals? Once you know where your company is headed, you can choose an ERP that meets your upcoming needs. Otherwise, you will be setting yourself up for more work and future headaches.
For example, if you want to expand into multiple territories, can the system support these future needs? You should check if the ERP has Live GPS and Mobile Tracking, which would allow you to monitor technicians in distant locations, check on their progress, and more.
DO ask your software provider for their long-term roadmap
It isn’t enough to assess your own long-term goals – you have to ask your potential software provider for their roadmap too. It’s important that your software provider is invested in learning about your industry so they can grow alongside you. Find out what’s new and upcoming for them and how they evaluate change.
A provider that has been around longer isn’t always better, either. Sometimes if the software is more mature, it’s also more difficult to update and grow. A provider needs to be on the latest and greatest platforms to stay current.
DO look for a provider open to customization
While a plug-and-play solution may be all you need to start, an ERP that can be customized to your needs will give you a competitive edge. Each company is unique, and having an ERP system that is unique to you will help you stay ahead of your competition. This can be as simple as tailoring fields in various screens within the app, for example. But don’t forget, even if a provider is willing to make adjustments for you, ensure that these customizations can be maintained and will be compatible with updated versions.
DON’T lose your historical data
Another important question to consider is whether the provider can help you with data migration. It’s hard to know how much historical data to keep and what to do with your old systems. Ultimately, a system is the bloodline of a company and the data it stores should be evaluated for value and transitioned into your new software. Using dual systems isn’t always feasible, and a good provider should be able to offer a better solution.
DO a free trial first
It can be intimidating to try a new ERP software or switch providers, but don’t get stuck in the same repetitive day-to-day motions just because it’s safe. Many ERP providers offer a free trial in which you can practice at your own pace to see if it’s the right one. Take the time to play around and see what works and doesn’t work for you. Don’t hesitate to share your feedback with the provider as they may be able to come up with a customized solution.
Before moving ahead after the trial, be sure to align with your software provider on realistic timeframes on how long it will take to get you up and running. This will all depend on the size of your company, the complexity of your business needs and several other elements.
DO stay in touch with your provider
It’s important to stay in contact with your provider to get the most out of the system. A provider should inform you of updates and offer support to ensure you know how the changes work. For example, ESS does on-site visits to check in and make sure that everything is running smoothly when possible.
More commonly, a provider can create a sandbox (testing environment) within their software for you to evaluate if everything is working properly and what you need to get to the next level in your business. Find a provider who is willing to offer this service in combination with continuous customer support so that you’re never left stranded searching for a solution to an issue.
DO assign a task manager
Although your ERP system will be used by so many different teams. it’s important to have one task manager who is responsible for overseeing the success of updates, changes, customization and more. This will make the planning and implementation process more efficient and streamlined. The task manager could call a monthly meeting with key personnel to assess what’s working and what’s not within the ERP.
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