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When evaluating ERP systems, is it possible to make sure you’re solving your real business issues?


Topic Expert
Barrett Peterson
Title: Senior Manager, Actg Stnds & Analysis
Company: TTX
(Senior Manager, Actg Stnds & Analysis, TTX) |

It is possible, but by no means assured or easy, and often don partiall or not at all.
If such issues are numerous and substantial, I suggest solving them separately before starting your ERP project.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

There are best practices when buying an Accounting/ERP/CRM system. They fall into 3 phases. Below is a very simplistic overview.

Phase 1: macro top-level needs assessment, starting with "what does our company do?" A answer that may shock you after you not only ask the question, but delve into it.

Phase 2: exam all accounting systems that are not only horizontal but vertical in your marketplace and compare them to your needs analysis matrix for fit. Purchase your system.

Phase 3: a detailed review and analysis of everything involved in your business, from Chart of Accounts to stovepipes and bottlenecks. Everything should be looked at, solutions drawn up and worked out with your system vendor BEFORE any data is entered into the new system.

Using best practices will answer the question raised by the ever increasing contributor Anonymous.

Jeffrey H Sakamoto
Title: CFO
Company: Not Disclosed
(CFO, Not Disclosed) |

Both Wayne and Barrett make complementary points. There are "best practices" that should be followed and if you choose to ignore the proper stages, you had better be prepared for less than optimal functionality and future costs allocated to "fixing" the system.

The goal with implementation of ERP systems is to "educate" the system about your business AND to impose future expansion into the programming/configuration. This requires cross-functional teamwork, which is not a common aspect of most businesses. Ultimately, the responsibility for success of an ERP implementation rests in the hands of the executive team; that responsibility is shared equally.

There are many reference materials available but I recommend reading some of Bob Lewis' books on Change Management and Project Management. You can find his publications at

Topic Expert
Malak Kazan
Title: VP, Special Projects
Company: ERI Economic Research Institute
(VP, Special Projects, ERI Economic Research Institute) |

I concur with comments and just add that ERP (technology/automation) is part of the equation. Solving a business issue in this context should include aligning the people, processes and the technology. Avoid the pit fall of overly customizing the technology. Instead look to the people and process components of the equation since they are more adaptable (flexible). This way you will have cost effective and scalable holistic solution to the business issue.

Jeff Langston
Title: CFO
Company: Baxter Franchise Group
(CFO, Baxter Franchise Group) |

The short answer is a 'Yes'.

But before that, establish clearly defined processes, people, goals & problems-to-fix before any ERP evaluations. You must be able to answer the 'why, what, who and when' before you look towards the 'how'.

Investing/implementing an ERP system should be the final item on the list. In fact, going the other way makes for a very messy cleanup. Been there, done that.

Lynne Taylor
Title: Principal
Company: Cloud Accounting Services for Enterprise..
(Principal, Cloud Accounting Services for Enterprises (CASE)) |

This topic appears to arise over and over again in accounting forums. One of the best accounting evaluation guides for the SaaS and PaaS age we now live in was just published a week ago on April 23, 2012 by Brian Sommer, who writes for ZDNet. It's a 50 page, comprehensive guide to the background, preparation, evaluation and approval phases of an application review process. This isn't theoretical stuff, but an actual step-by-step process guide, including checklists, for any company seriously evaluating cloud-based ERP/accounting applications.

The URL link to find out more is here: Brian also appears to be conducting webinars and then providing the guide. We are Financialforce users and it is being made available to FF customers, but emailing contactattechnventive [dot] net might yield some more information about how to obtain as well.

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