The Best of Both Worlds: Picturing Yourself in Your Dream ERP

In our first blog post we talked briefly about the unprecedented opportunity that best-in-class products like Salesforce deliver for empowering every department in a company with the best possible software solution. Of course, we also acknowledged the fact that the power of choice can make you want to go take a power nap.

In this blog series we will be offering up many important areas to consider in a new ERP. However, two criteria deserve to be front and center because they are not only critical, they are universal. Every company wants to take pain out of their day-to-day, and every company needs to see a full picture of their business through reporting.

Streamlining Begins with Fact-Finding
When looking for an ERP to work with your Salesforce CRM, evaluating a prospective solution’s features and functions just isn’t enough. Finding that “no compromise” fit requires understanding your company’s internal processes and pain points today. Before you allow yourself to be dazzled by a single pre-packaged demonstration, get a clear picture of what needs to be done on a day-to-day basis. How is time spent within finance—and within other departments that interact with finance. Many successful finance teams have documented their existing processes steps because it helped them uncover answers to three major questions:

  1. How well does a prospective ERP fit your existing process flows? For example, can it help your Accounts Payable or Accounts Receivable work more efficiently out-of-the box?
  2. If the system needs to be tailored to fit your existing processes, are these changes accomplished through standard configurations, or through custom coding?
  3. If custom coding is necessary in order to adapt to your company’s unique processes, what effort will be required to maintain that custom code on an ongoing basis?

Starting with the Ending
Without exception, each time I ask a CFO or finance manager, “What’s your number one piece of advice for a fellow finance executive in the market for a new ERP?” the answer is some variation of “Start with the end in mind.” And that makes sense. Without great, easy reporting that adjusts to changing needs, your shiny new ERP is going to send you back to Excel for even the most basic answers.

Every finance team needs to go beyond standard GAAP accounting for reports. Whether it’s having the necessary cash flow reporting, visibility into performance across entities, or a view into operational metrics, make sure you create a thorough Reporting/Dashboard wish list. And remember that your requirements will change over time, so make sure every ERP vendor shows you not only a sample report, but demonstrates the level of time/effort required to create or update reports. To help flesh out your requirements, consult this summary of report types.

Be sure to follow along with this blog series on how to select a future-proof ERP!