Planning for growth: Could it be time for an ERP upgrade?

We’ve all outgrown things: clothes, shoes, relationships, jobs. Knowing it’s time to move on can be difficult, even for companies. Today’s business processes have evolved and become more complex. So it’s no surprise that 3 out of 4 business managers are concerned that their current technology can’t keep up. As a result, many plan to invest in new solutions to address perceived gaps; 25% say that will be a modern ERP system.1

If big changes to your business systems are on your To Do list in 2015, keep these guidelines in mind:

Time it right.

If you are still running legacy systems on your ERP, it’s likely time to invest in some modern upgrades that can more readily adapt to the complexities and demands of a growing business. Indicators that your technology might be holding you back:

Are there business processes you want to adopt that your platform can’t support?Are there business functions that are disparate or still managed manually?Is your current system outdated, unsupported or nearing end-of-life?

Get everyone on board.

Platform changes can be a time-consuming and costly undertaking. Secure buy-in from stakeholders early in the process and keep them informed throughout the transition. Be realistic about your resources to avoid budget overruns and scope creep. Things to keep in mind:

Should you outsource the job or bring in experts to consult on the project? Have you discussed compatibility issues and data concerns with providers and partners?Did you clear the calendar of any other major projects, such as updates or integrations?Did you get sign-off from all stakeholders on project costs, dates and deliverables?

Make the connection.

How your platform integrates with partners and third-party solutions is crucial if you want it to scale and adapt to your growing business. Many ERP systems have capabilities built-in, such as order and payment processing, inventory management, CRM and email marketing. But it’s likely you’ll want to customize your platform to meet your specific business situation. To ensure your business processes will work together seamlessly, consider:

Are there integrations that could make your current platform perform better?How will a new platform affect your existing third-party solutions? What about my supply chain? Are those relationships and efficiencies that can be better managed?

Don’t be short-sighted.

The biggest incentive to upgrade your ERP is to accommodate future growth. Be sure you have features and functionality options that can scale in volume or scope as your needs change.  Will your ERP capability extend to accommodate:

Expansion through acquisitions, new locations or foreign markets?More process control for vertical industries and business units like HR and payroll?Complex transactions: foreign currency, subscription billing, sales tax compliance?

Are you planning platform improvements in 2015?

Make tax automation part of the plan. Avalara AvaTax software integrates with hundreds of ERP systems giving you built-in, world-class compliance that will save you time and money so you can focus on what matters: growing your business.

Upgrade reporting and analytics.

It’s not enough to know what your customers are buying, you need to know why? Your ERP should warehouse data in a structured, repeatable, scalable manner to enable better decision-making. Is your system robust enough to:

Analyze performance, variances and process anomalies across all business functions?Make forecasting, pricing and sales decisions based on quantitative data?Produce detailed reports that benchmarks process efficiency and regulatory compliance?

The decision to upgrade or overhaul your platform is a pretty big promise to fulfill. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions along the way to ensure you’re getting a solution that can move the needle forward for your business.

1 Forrester Consulting

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