Companies planning an enterprise resource planning (ERP) adoption have plenty of questions to ask and answer before ever selecting any software or the vendor. There are too many instances of businesses failing to choose the best fits for their operations and specific industries, leading to an ERP implementation that never delivers the sought results over the long run. Organizations in this situation are then forced to either customize the solution or replace it entirely, which is a drain on corporate resources, time and money.

A white paper from a leading ERP vendor highlighted some ways that businesses can get their next ERP deployment right from the start. The first step to choosing the best vendor begins with an internal selection committee. This team should also create a list of questions they need to answer when making this very important decisions.

  • Does the ERP service provider understand the industry?
  • What is the total cost of ownership of the solution?
  • Does the vendor have its own support system in place or does it outsource?
  • Is the ERP system capable of supporting multi-site operations?
  • Which operational areas can be improved with the ERP software?

These are all critical questions that must be answered before any ERP system is launched. The report encouraged businesses to come to a consensus before making any decision on a particular solution.

Conduct extensive research
Some service providers promise potential clients the world and never deliver in the long run. The white paper insisted that businesses research potential vendors by finding their references. If other companies report that certain software did not meet their expectations, then it may be best to stay away from these companies.

In addition to finding how other clients have fared with an ERP deployment, organizations should make contact with the potential service provider, the report suggested. If necessary, a product demonstration or presentation is a good way to learn more about an ERP system straight from the horse's mouth.

The white paper concluded that clients should work with their vendor and discuss important benchmarks they want to achieve with ERP software, and that they should have a time frame in mind of when they want to reach these goals.

On-site or not?
Another critical aspect of any successful ERP implementation is whether the software will be hosted at an on-site location or in the cloud. Businesses that want full control over their ERP systems should opt for the former model, while companies looking for a cost-effective option can thrive with a cloud-based environment.

A Virtustream survey found that cloud computing is expected to be big business for the ERP market. Of the large companies polled, nearly 70 percent expected to migrate applications, such as ERP, to the cloud by the end of 2013. More than half said the cloud will improve their corporate agility, while others cited a competitive advantage using the solution and a boost to productivity.

If costs are truly a deciding factor regarding an ERP implementation, the cloud may be the only way to go. The survey found that businesses with cloud-based environments reported average savings of 17 percent over firms relying on on-site equipment.

"The end of 2014 will be a pivotal moment for the enterprise cloud," said Simon Aspinall, chief vertical markets executive at Virtustream. "ERP and other mission-critical applications have mainly been deployed conventionally – the cuckoos in cloud land. The next 18 months will see these critical applications pushed out of their in-house data center nests and migrated to the cloud."

Go with a vendor that specializes in both
Businesses struggling to determine the best way to launch an ERP system should consult with a reputable vendor. Infor solutions are popular among many clients throughout different industries. The service provider has made a name for itself catering to a client base seeking both on-site software and systems hosted in the cloud.

Firms that want their next ERP implementation to be their last for a while can accomplish this feat if they plan ahead and collaborate with the right vendor. Infor may not be the largest vendor on the market, but very few offer the level of service that it provides for its various clients.