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ERP Evaluation: 4 Questions to Ask to Get the Right System

10/4/23 8:15 AM


ERP software assessments provide answers to your questions

Visual South assists companies with ERP assessments and implementations every day, and has since 1993. It’s what we do and we have been through the ERP evaluation process hundreds of times.

However, many customers may only evaluate ERP software every 10 to 15 years. The ERP selection team members may have never evaluated software, or may have done so only once before. This leads to the development of many different processes -- some are good and others not so good. The Visual South team can help regardless.

Our team provides a consultative approach for companies, and can help create an ERP evaluation process and ERP evaluation template to ensure you maximize your time looking for the right-sized application to meet your business needs.

A big part of ERP evaluation is knowing the right questions to ask. The questions need to be well-thought-out because it can be challenging to differentiate between ERP providers and products. You want to be able to quickly identify which products are a viable option.

A common mistake is to either look at products that do not provide a complete functional footprint and will limit growth; or conversely, to look at a brand name like SAP and assume it will easily fit into small or medium-sized organizations, when it is actually too big and complex for the business requirements. NetSuite is another product often considered due to brand recognition, but it is notoriously weak at addressing manufacturers’ core needs without partner products and add-ons.

Similarly, companies can make mistakes by being insistent on a cloud deployment or on-premise deployment based on assumptions rather than true best fit.

How do you ensure you are looking for the right solution?

Prepare in advance to discuss your project with ERP vendors. 

Answer these four questions to evaluation an ERP system:

  1. What are your business - not ERP - goals?
  2. Do these goals and defined business issues align with the executive team’s vision of what an ERP system should provide?
  3. How do you want to deploy the system? Cloud? On-Premise?
  4. What is the budget needed to purchase the ERP system that meets your business requirements?


We take you through each ERP evaluation question in more depth below.

1. What are your goals with a properly implemented new ERP system?

Having a clear end goal is critical. Simply replacing what you have will not help. You need to identify the areas that are causing issues and limiting business efficiency and growth.

Identify your top 5-10 goals and have the ERP vendors address how their systems can solve the most important issues up front. This will provide clarity and an easier apples-to-apples comparison. If you allow the ERP vendors too much latitude, many will propagate their strengths, create clutter and noise, and make it hard to stay focused on whether the system can help accomplish your most important business goals.

2. Do these ERP goals and defined business issues align with the executive team’s vision of what an ERP system should provide?

If the answer is no, then you may have trouble getting final approval for your project regardless of the software system selected. Ask yourself if the new system is solving the right people’s problems and matching their vision. If it isn’t, it’s highly probable you won’t get the approval or budget to invest in a new ERP system. It happens every day. You must have executive level support.

Related: 3 Things to Consider When Choosing an ERP Development Company

3. Do you know why you want a cloud system?

During an ERP assessment, companies often tell us they want to go to the cloud. It’s a natural demand considering it’s all you see in the media. But that may not make the most sense for your company. You have to ask the questions, or at least educate yourself on the topic, before venturing into an ERP evaluation that includes a cloud deployment. Many ERP vendors will try to steer you to what is most convenient for them instead what is in your best interests.

To learn more about why many manufacturers are transitioning to cloud-based ERP, please visit The Future of Cloud ERP for Manufacturing Companies

Related: Comparing ERP Cloud to On-Premise

4. What is the budget needed to purchase the ERP system that meets your business requirements?

We frequently work with companies who have an arbitrary budget that doesn’t take into account the size of the project. Most of the time, the budget is too small to truly address the business goals, solve specific business issues, develop best practices and procedures, and properly educate the user base on the new system. If corners are cut in any of these areas during the implementation, it often leads to underwhelming return on investment.

Start with an ERP evaluation template

If the four points above made sense to you, then you will be interested in our ERP evaluation template. It not only guides you through the entire process, it gives you a strategy. It provides you a plan.

There are two parts to the template.

  1. Our eBook "How to Select ERP...and not regret it": The eBook is free, it's a 10-20 minute read, and it can be downloaded here. It will provide clarity to you.
  2. Our checklist: "The ERP Selection Criteria Checklist": This follows the strategy of the eBook. You can download it here. The download is a convenient spreadsheet. Here is a sample of what it looks like:

ERP Selection Template

Visual South provides an extensive array of resources to educate you on how to have an effective ERP assessment. Please let us know if you have questions. We are also happy to set up a free consultation to provide guidance on managing your ERP assessment and evaluation process. 

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Topics: ERP selection

Tim O'Brien

Written by Tim O'Brien

Tim has over 20 years of successful experience helping companies improve their processes and operations using enterprise software solutions. Those enterprise solutions include Enterprise Resource Planning for manufacturers, Service Management for service oriented companies, and Enterprise Asset Management in the process manufacturing industry.