Trying to figure out how to choose a simple-to-use ERP software system? These 5 tips should make the process a little easier…

Some people love fiddling with new software – and others hate it! If your team belong to the latter category, make sure you choose ERP software which is easy to use by following these tips…


Simplify your business processes first

ERP software is just one part of your enterprise resource planning; the processes in place at your business will define the complexity of your ERP system. As a result, you should always look to simplify your business processes before implementing ERP software. It then follows that the system should also be easier to use.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
Bill Gates

Know what you need

Once your business processes have been rationalised, your decision makers will be in a better position to define what is actually required of your ERP software. With a full list of requirements, it is less likely that the wrong ERP system will be chosen. The “wrong” platform will increase user frustration and dissatisfaction as they are forced to work around it, rather than the software supporting them.

Developers with experience in your industry, with modules ready to add on when your business grows, are most likely to provide the system you need. If you can, talk to prospective suppliers’ happy customers – to see how the systems work in practice.

“There is no magic in ERP software. ERP’s benefits are a direct result of effective preparation and implementation, and appropriate use.”
R. Michael Donovan, management consultant

Get your whole team involved

ERP solutions tend to be implemented through a desire to reduce costs and manage growth expectations (ERP in Manufacturing 2012 – Aberdeen Group), both of which are overseen by the senior management team. If the rest of the company is not involved in the ERP software decision making process in some capacity it is unlikely that the final solution will prove suited to the needs of the staff expected to use it.

A ‘one go-to place’ system which offers all the functionality you need – which your team don’t have to supplement with spreadsheets, for example – is most likely to be successful.

“What we need to do is learn to work in the system, by which I mean that everybody, every team, every platform, every division, every component is there not for individual competitive profit or recognition, but for contribution to the system as a whole on a win-win basis.”

W. Edwards Deming, Business expert

Train staff to understand your business processes

If your staff understand the way your business works and the processes which underpin it, they also have a good grounding in the logic which works behind the scenes of an ERP software solution. Invest time and money in training staff in this way and they will immediately find ERP software easier to use.

The best software suppliers can also help you customise and manage your ERP system – so you don’t have to undergo the headache of employing full-time IT staff to run it.

“At a minimum, enterprises should allocate 17 percent of the total cost of an ERP project to training. Gartner research also found that companies that budget less than 13 percent of their costs for training are three times more likely to see their ERP projects run over time and over budget when compared with companies that spend 17 percent or more on training.”
Gartner Research

Enable the use of multiple applications

The most effective ERP software deployments make it easy for staff to access and manipulate data (ERP in Manufacturing 2012 – Aberdeen Group). Often this involves sharing data between applications outside the ERP system seamlessly to make the process intuitive and easy.

The best systems are available on your mobile phone/tablet, too – meaning you can access the data you need wherever and whenever.

“… the Best-in-Class [ERP software users] know the advantage of making it easy for their employees to actually use the data. The Best-in-Class are 2.7 times as likely as all others to enable employees to complete processes between multiple applications without disruption. They are over twice as likely to have data shared between applications seamlessly and transparently. Thus employees have a one stop shop for data and are more likely to seek it out and use it for all decisions.”

– ERP in Manufacturing 2012 – Aberdeen Group

Originally posted on the Sanderson manufacturing blog