Chapter 5: Finding the Best ERP Software for Your Business
You understand the need for specific ERP inventory software for textile manufacturing and you’re ready to move forward. But where do you start? How do you find ERP software that’s right for you? It doesn’t need to be overly complicated.
Consider Your Company’s Goals and Objectives
First, consider your current growth and target growth. Knowing where you stand will help you identify the apparel manufacturing ERP solutions you need:
- What is your target growth — year by year — for the next five to 10 years?
- How do you measure growth?
- Will your company be introducing new products, entering new markets, acquiring or merging with a new company?
Efficiency should also be a deciding factor in moving forward. Consider the following questions relating to your current operations:
- Do you see an overlap in your current processes and functions?
- Do you wonder if you can cut down on redundancy?
- How would you like to combine functions for greater efficiency?
When considering current goals and objectives, think about your existing product speed to market, as well:
- Is there a delay between manufacturing and getting the product to market?
- Would you be able to increase your market share by increasing your speed?
Answering these questions will not point you one way or another, but you will better understand what you should hope to gain by investing in new apparel manufacturing ERP solutions.
Know Your ERP Software Requirements
To better understand your specific needs, consider both the functionality you’ll need in a new system along with existing pain points.
To begin, break down your business department-by-department. Look at the functions performed by all units and the involved parties each day. See whether they fall inside or outside the system you currently have in place.
At the same time, consider the programs you’re currently using to accomplish daily tasks. Be specific — there may be room to combine these programs or integrate them into a single system going forward.
Next, identify existing pain points. The best way to accomplish this task may be to talk to each department to gather grievances. The process may not be enjoyable, but once you understand where there are problems, you’ll be better prepared to find ways to improve through textile manufacturing software or other ERP solutions.
Gather a Team
Regardless of the implementation team that will be in place once you select a system, it’s important to have a team in place internally, especially during the search process.
Start by thinking down the chain. While upper-level management may have the final say, those closer to other units may be able to provide valuable insight. Consider adding department heads — or at least a representative from each of your company’s main departments — to help during the selection process.
Then, move up the chain. Because upper-level management will be making the final decision, it will be important for the two groups to work together and to gain an understanding of each other’s needs from the start.
Start the Search
Once your team is in place and you have a better idea of your needs as an organization, it’s time to move forward by starting an actual search.
Starting within your industry. Run a general search for ERP solution providers within the apparel industry to ensure a smoother process that meets your specific needs. Remember — finding the right fit is critical.
Proper research is essential. As of the most recent study in 2014, 22% of companies selected the first provider they found. One-third of them did not even demo the product. This laid-back approach to a major decision leads to long-term problems that include:
- Expressing regret over not selecting a more industry-specific provider (67%).
- Stating they would select a different ERP software vendor if they could restart the process (31%).
To be as thorough as possible, take the time to read marketing material and case studies from specific vendors. Do their past clients align with your current needs? Are they in your industry? If so, take part in demos and allow your team to do the same. The more familiar each team member is with various options, the more comfortable they will be moving forward.
Once you feel more confident, ask for references. Ask past clients whether deadlines were met, whether the budget was met and what concerns they had throughout the process. Most importantly, ask if they are satisfied with their operations post-implementation.
Before making any final decisions, review the features, available security and procedures before, during and after implementation. The fewer surprises, the better.
Make a Selection
When you’ve narrowed down your choices, you’ll be closer to deciding.
Take the time to compare your top choices and ask questions. By becoming familiar with pricing options, support availability, timelines and overall procedures, you’ll know whether you can make the implementation work for your business.
Make sure the new software will meet your needs and that you understand how it will fit into your business model and strategy.
Once you’ve examined your business and researched all available options, you’ll be prepared to inform your team. From this point forward, for the project to be successful, it’s important that your team feels involved and informed. Introduce them to the project, allow them to meet those who will be involved and make the timeline public.
Most importantly, let everyone know there will be ample education to ease frustrations during the process. By highlighting the benefits of the new software while letting them know they won’t be alone during the process, the reception will be more positive.