Since business applications like CRM or ERP touch almost every aspects of a business, it's advisable to investigate all options to arrive at the best match that's worthy to the investment you are doing for your enterprise. Also, now there are other deployment modes available besides deploying applications within the enterprise's premises, which include SaaS and Cloud based delivery modes. Today's business environment is dynamic and forever changing, therefore enterprise apps such as ERP and CRM must be flexible to adapt to the changing business climate and capitalize on new opportunities. It is one that will have long-lasting effects on enterprises' overall performance. Thus, while choosing any enterprise class application for your business, consider the following aspects while evaluating a business application for your enterprise.
Aspects to consider when choosing business applications for your enterprise:
Relevance to your business or vertical market
Industry or peer references
Total Cost of Ownership
Flexibility to customize or integrate
Vendors stability to provide long term support and maintenance
Technical resources availability
Alternate deployment models (On Premise or SaaS/Cloud)
Cost consideration while buying business applications
Mr. Shiv Kumar, Executive Vice-President, Business Development, Zylog Systems
�In the ERP/CRM world, the software cost of a solution is usually less than 20% of the total costs. The Total Cost of Ownership, therefore, represents a very important way to compare one ERP/CRM solution to another, because it captures the costs beyond the software cost. So the cost optimization should be applied on the customization, servers, and storage, training and support components. In contrast, Return on Investment (ROI) largely is focused on measuring benefits to see if they exceed the costs of implementing the ERP/CRM system. The major ERP vendors offer 'Pay as you grow' pricing model for their hosted version which would minimize the cost of licenses, infrastructure, maintenance and support though the customization flexibility is limited.
The enterprises planning any ERP/CRM investment would be wise to complete an ROI analysis first. The ROI analysis will determine the financial significance of the project, and the speed of payback. Then, once you have a good business case, conduct a TCO analysis on at least two solution providers. A thorough TCO analysis will pinpoint where the differences are in total solution costs, over a multi-year time frame. This two-phase approach ensures that you will not only get a good return, but that you ultimately will work with the most cost-effective solution provider.�
Secondly, since these services are to be delivered over the Internet you have to ensure necessary bandwidth allocation for it. Also, while signing the SLA, do ensure that the provider for SaaS or Cloud service is ensuring more than 99.9% uptime. Because even a meager 0.1% downtime can be expensive for your organization's productivity.
An enterprise comprises of several departments and for each department, there are several business applications available. For instance, CRM is an application for customer management and for HR and payroll, there are Human Resource Management apps available. All these standalone applications referred as 'silos', don't talk to each other. The implementation of an ERP system to overhaul and automate business processes is a strategic investment for any organization. While the idea behind an ERP application is that, it is a suite that works together to achieve seamless business processes, therefore while evaluating any business application for your business needs, it becomes essential that the application supports SOA architecture.
There are standalone solutions for each business activity, but for seamless business environment you cannot achieve much through them. It's good to have an integrated ERP solution that can integrate all business processes of an organization. It gives advantages like standardization, lowered maintenance costs, and organized data integration. Coming to budgetary implications of standalone apps vis-a-vis integrated ERP solution, with stand-alone apps an organization has to purchase licenses for each of the application, train the staff for every installed application and also maintain different teams for each applications support and maintenance. While with an integrated ERP suite, an organization gets a single suite that caters to all needs of the organization. There is the single vendor who provides support as well as necessary maintenance. While the employees have a single application interface they don't have to learn different applications to access information of different departments.
Relevance to your Industry
The ERP market is dominated by the likes of SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft among others who provide a complete suite for most industry verticals. Manufacturing, finance and operations and logistics were a few of the industry verticals that were primarily using ERP solutions. But with the advent of ERP being implemented in almost every industry sector, these major ERP vendors have also incorporated packages to support the new industry verticals, which include real estate, agriculture, apparels and footwear industry as well.
Since solutions developed for generic businesses can't satisfy the specialized requirements of industry specific enterprises, it becomes imperative to choose a solution that is designed or customized to meet requirements of a specific industry. This becomes the second step while considering a business application for your enterprise, because the industry specific business applications are designed to comply with industry's best practices, compliances and government regulations. For instance, even though an apparel company will fall under manufacturing industry, its requirements from an ERP solution are very different. SAP offers a specific solution called AFS (Apparel and Footwear Solution), that is targeted to meet the requirements of the apparel industry. So, when you are choosing a solution like ERP, then go to vendors who have products catering towards your industry vertical.
Choosing the right vendor or implementation partner is as important as selecting the appropriate solution for your enterprise. Before finalizing a vendor for the implementation, consider following aspects:
Implementation support: The success of the implementation lies in the kind of support and services that the vendor provides for the software solution. The implementation phase requires implementation partner to have domain expertise of the industry vertical where the solution is to be deployed. M&B Footwear faced challenge of not being able to find any vendor who had experience of having deployed SAP's AFS module for a footwear industry. If the implementation partner don't know the industry, kind of available solutions, then implementation is bound to fail. The only way to ensure success is to involve partners having knowledge of both, domain and solution.
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