With the markets in turmoil around the world and the fear of a double-dip recession here at home, the externalities of our world right now make it increasingly difficult to commit to any major purchase — either in our personal lives or our professional ones. But while we might put off buying that SUV or recommend that our company cancel its yearly planning trip in Bora Bora, the fact of the matter is that business keeps going. And to keep up with it, organizations need to understand and react to — not run from — both the general and specific externalities affecting them. Further they most weigh those externalities against the need to make strategic investments that bring long-term gains. An ERP system, when chosen and implemented correctly, is just such a strategic investment. Its purchase must be made in consideration not just of the organization’s internal world but of its external world as well for an ERP system affects all aspects of a business. The following are three questions to answer before diving into ERP software selection:

1. What’s the government up to? Keep your ear to the ground regarding government regulation of your industry. Whether there are changes coming — or just rumors of changes coming — it’s incredibly important to find an ERP system that can handle existing compliance measures and regulations and adapt to new ones. Consider how your business and your business processes will be affected if a new party is elected in 2012.

2. What do my key shareholders/stakeholders think? While an ERP system can bring unparalleled benefits to an organization, it is not selected or implemented in a vacuum and it won’t solve all your problems without some serious work on the back-end. If your shareholders and stockholders are skittish — listen to them. It means you haven’t justified the investment well. And that means you haven’t shown how implementing new ERP software will improve the way your organization functions. And that means you aren’t sure it will. Take a step back and start pulling together the metrics you need to prove to yourself and others that an ERP solution is truly what your organization needs.

3. What are my market leaders doing? How have your market leaders reacted to the economic uncertainty? Are they growing or are they retracting? What your leaders are doing and how they’re doing it can provide insight into what your customers, suppliers and distributors will expect from you in the future (or might even be expecting from you now). Keep an eye on the innovators; their triumphs and stumbles can be great learning opportunities.

If you’re in the market for a new ERP solution, talk to us before you start dancing with the vendors. Panorama’s highly experienced, independent team of ERP consultants can make sure that you choose an ERP system that not only benefits your organization but has the ability to keep pace with the ever-changing aspects of your industry and your world.

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