5 criteria for choosing an ERP for your SME/SMI

Whether it is a first ERP project for your SME or the change of an existing solution, the choice of ERP software should not be taken lightly. Indeed, choosing the right ERP will positively impact the performance and productivity of your business. Before starting to compare the different solutions on the market, the first step is to precisely define and formalize your needs.


If your SME is already equipped and you hesitate to renew your current management solution, discover our article on the 5 reasons to change your ERP software.


So which ERP to choose for your SME and how? Among the criteria for selecting an integrated management software package (ERP), we suggest that you study certain fundamentals to take into account before you decide. Then, you can make a comparison of the ERPs on the market.


1. Knowledge of your SME/SMI business

Some integrated management software packages can be adapted to a very broad industry spectrum (Trading, HR, Project, Production, Process, Logistics, Stock, etc.) and others are oriented towards a specific industry, sector or profession.


Choose an ERP solution adapted to your SME/SMI specificities

When looking for an integrated management solution, SMEs regularly turn to publishers of generalist solutions with a strong reputation. This type of “generic” and often oversized management software package involves more adaptations. Adaptations that increase the complexity, risks, delays, costs of an ERP project for SMEs and also add difficulty with regard to future updates.


On the contrary, ERP software oriented towards your field of activity allows you to have a ready-to-use solution much more quickly, better expertise and fewer specific developments to be planned. For example, our Sylob solution is an ERP designed exclusively for industries.


Choose an ERP integrator who understands your business

It is just as important to call on an ERP integrator who has real know-how in your industry. With expertise in your sector or business, the integrator will be better able to analyze your issues more closely, respond to them effectively and make your project more productive.


Questions to ask yourself to make the right choice:

  • What are the references of the publisher and the ERP integrator in my field of activity?
  • Is the ERP solution well "dimensioned" to the size of my company: VSE, SME / SMI, ETI, industrial group?

Once the "shortlist" has been established, we advise you to contact one or two references who are close to your activity and to meet them.


2. Functional coverage and system agility

Your future ERP must offer a favorable environment for decision-making and be flexible enough to adapt to your organization and the needs you have previously formulated. It should never force you to change your processes. Your ERP software must ensure the proper management of information flows between the different departments of your company: sales, production, accounting, purchasing, management.


Flexibility and adaptability of the software to the medium-term strategy

The functionalities offered by an ERP must be able to meet at least 80% of the immediate needs of your organization but also the medium-term needs. Indeed, your requirements and your needs at the moment T should not be the only arguments that guide you in your decision to buy.


It is therefore necessary to reflect on certain possible scenarios that can be part of the company's development and medium-term strategy: internationalization, the opening of new production sites, staff mobility, new markets, etc.


Questions to ask yourself before choosing:

  • Does the ERP editor allow me to upgrade smoothly to support my growth?
  • Is the solution modular enough or flexible enough if my needs change?
  • Does it include integrated or external accounting?
  • Does it understand international standards?

The selected solution must be flexible and modular enough to support you towards new realities. If the ERP you want has excessive limitations in terms of functionality and customization, it is advisable to look elsewhere.


3. User experience and adoption of your ERP software within your company

The adoption and appropriation of an ERP system by the staff of the company is a major issue and must be taken into consideration.


Naturally, a good ERP must be able to present the right information to the right people. s and at the right time. But it must also be intuitive, easily customizable, …


Each employee of the company, whatever their function, will have to work daily with this new tool. Perhaps even employees who are not users of the current system will have to use this new ERP.


The advantages of a user-friendly and customizable interface are numerous:

  • Faster implementation time,
  • Better acceptance by users,
  • Willingness and ability to discover smarter ways of working...

But usability and user experience is not just about attractive design.


A web or mobile ERP will allow, for example, a more fluid user experience to facilitate their mission and make them more efficient, or even create new, more productive working methods.


4. Medium-term costs

The cost of ERP software is a fundamental issue. But too often, the company limits itself to considering the initial costs when it is essential to take into account the total costs over the medium - long term to compare the offers and their ROI.


Even though business models are changing faster than in the past, an ERP system should be seen as a long-term investment. According to several studies, an integrated management software package has a life cycle of 8 to 10 years on average.


To find out which ERP meets your needs, you will also need to study the costs:

  • Licenses and infrastructure depending on the model
  • Software deployment
  • Project and integration time
  • Maintenance and support
  • The purchase of additional modules
  • Future standard or specific developments

It also happens, for example, that certain databases are chargeable and that you also have to pay a fee or annual maintenance on them.


Ideally, what you should analyze is the return you expect on this investment.


The choice of your ERP editor can also be made on the hosting model you wish to adopt:

  • ERP On-premise: solution installed in the company
  • ERP Cloud / SaaS: solution installed outside the company and billed as a subscription to the company

The hosting of data outside the company has been on the rise in recent years. According to a study conducted at the end of 2018 by the CXP, 40% of ERPs are now hosted in a public, private or hybrid Cloud, and the annual increase continues to be in the double digits. In comparison to 2016, only 16% of ERP solutions were in the cloud.


It is also interesting to think about the opportunities that software marketed in SaaS mode can bring. Beyond the technical advantages of SaaS such as flexibility of use, deployment of new versions and interoperability, the impacts in terms of investment for an SME are also to be analysed: no material and human investment in an IT infrastructure, data backup and recovery, all-inclusive rent, etc.


5. Sustainability and quality of support

Sustainability must be verified at the level of the product itself, but also at the level of the service provider who will deploy the solution, and above all ensure support in the years that follow.


Ensuring the sustainability of software is not easy when you are not an IT specialist, especially considering that companies change ERP software every 10-12 years.


But do not hesitate to ask questions about the technologies used, the architecture of the software, or even ask to have a presentation of the technical developments that have been made in recent years on the software. Many solutions available on the market today are more than 30 years old, and if technically the product has not evolved at all, this should concern you.


Beyond the solution, it is essential to choose the right partners because the human factor is the key to the success of your ERP project. Do not hesitate to inquire about after-sales service, customer service, ticket management, etc...


You must therefore carefully analyze the profile of the integrator and the ERP editor before you start. They will be present for several years at your side and will guarantee the performance of the system put in place. Be all the more vigilant if you are considering an open source solution.


The basics of choosing the editor:

  • Seniority, references, financial health and organizational stability
  • References and positive reviews in your industry
  • Its strategic and technological vision
  • Availability and quality of customer support / training
  • Willingness and capacity for innovation
  • Example of questions to ask yourself to choose the right solution:
  • How often are relevant updates and developments made?
  • What are its latest innovations?
  • What resources are available for training and customer support?
  • What is the customer satisfaction rate?

The fundamental points on the choice of the ERP integrator for SMEs, SMIs, VSEs or industrial Startups

Like Sylob, your publisher may also be an integrator of its own ERP solutions. If not, here are some criteria to consider:

  • Knowledge of your business and ability to understand your needs
  • Expertise and experience of the team on the ERP solution
  • Its availability and geographical proximity
  • Human relation

Last advice: Remember to communicate about the project to the whole company because it will impact your employees and perhaps some issues remain to be raised.