In the past ERP systems and business management software was hard to install, hard to maintain, and hard to use. This was the case because often these applications were running on complex and powerful hardware or required a programmer. The programmer had to be familiar with proprietary system information to navigate and create something from scratch and the business was often left waiting on consultants. Modern business software has come a long way from these days and your business software should be user friendly and easy to navigate.
Too many business are suffering from the pain associated with outdated, under preforming software.
Fast forward to 2021 and not only is cloud based, low-code, and no-code business software a reality it should be your expectation. Twenty years ago if someone mentioned the cloud you would probably look outside and up at the sky. Today if someone is talking about the cloud we are all familiar with the ability to access our information, software, photos, and forms from anywhere virtually. This convenience of being able to easily access information has lead to some questionable versions of "cloud software".
There are various ERP Business Systems in the marketplace today that claim to be cloud based and user friendly but in reality several of these legacy ERP systems are still the same old antiquated, complex systems with a new coat paint. They function the same as their past software versions but on the surface the new “coat of paint” helps them appear modern.
So where does this leave businesses looking to upgrade their software?
One suggestion we have for your software selection process is to get hands on with the proposed software application. Ask your partner if they have a sandbox option for accessing the application with the people at your business that will be using it day in and day out. Remember to go into this process with an open mind and the understanding that the sandbox is not configured to your specific business and processes at this point and does not include your business data. Your business partner should also offer some high-level guidance in the system and be available for questions during this process.
If a vendor is unable or unwilling to let your business get hands on with the software typically that is a warning sign that the software is cumbersome to use and will require a lot of training. As with any business system training will always be needed, but if you are already familiar with the concepts of using an ERP system you and your team should be able to sit down and navigate the new system. You may not know how to preform every transaction within the system, but you should be able to easily figure out the basics such as looking at the demo inventory levels, reviewing sales data, and understand the search and navigation capabilities. If you can’t then that implies that the software is not intuitive.
At Blaze IT we believe modern software should be easy to use. It shouldn’t require logging into a remote server or running a published application through a third party tool. We are in a day and age where information is accessible at the touch of our fingers.
When looking at ERP systems make sure to focus on the following:
Installation and deployment. Do you have options on how to deploy the software? Can it be Software as a Service or hosted on your own environment? How much technical knowledge is needed to install and update it?
Technology framework. Is it built on old technology? Even if the interface looks new, dig in and validate that the underlying code is really built on a modern and sustainable framework.
Configurability. How easy is to add custom fields and data to the system? Are you limited on this data? Is it easy to show and hide information based on user roles and responsibilities?
Consistency and flow of information. Are screens between areas consistent with one another or is it apparent that they were built by different programmers at different times, or even worse are two different products slapped together.
Reporting. Capturing information is one thing, but then getting that information out in a useful format is another. Does your system have built in reporting tools that are easy to use? Or are you relying on third party reporting and analytic tools to report on your data in a static manner?
Customization or Configuration. Are you able to easily configure the system or does it require complex programming? Does the software allow for low-code and no-code configuration?
Access. Are you able to work from anywhere with the software or does it require you to be in the office or navigate to the application through outdated or complex processes. Are you able to transact through the mobile application or simply view the data only.