7 steps

to choosing an erp system and an implementation partner

How to know when it’s the right time to switch to an ERP system? Are you considering investing in a complex management system that will support your business and facilitate its growth?


Most modern ERP systems are modular in their structure and allow the addition of new users, functions and modules which extend the initially implemented solution over time. They offer development capabilities, so when your business needs more resources, the system you use can be easily customized to the ever-changing needs of your growing business. Unlike older ERP systems, modern business solutions are highly flexible and customizable. They can be tailored to encompass each process or workflow in all areas such as finance, sales, services, manufacturing or human resources.


To get a rough picture of potential implementation advantages, analyze turning points in the company’s history and identify main areas that require further improvement.

How fast is your company developing?

Has your list of customers recently expanded? Does your offer include new products and services? Have you recently increased your workforce as your employees were no longer able to work effectively? Is your company expanding the scope of its business activity? Isn’t it a fact that your IT software has not changed over time even though the number of your customers and employees as well as the range of products and services your offer has grown?

Are the currently used systems hindering productivity?

Employees must use multiple programs to enter and retrieve data which makes data management more and more complicated.  The use of various systems can be an obstacle to the effective exchange of information between various departments.


System administrators are overwhelmed by the unprecedented amount of data entry requests the system is no longer able to process. System users don’t seem to work efficiently either. You might have purchased another company and may be facing a major challenge: how to combine and handle separate IT systems?

How efficiently can you plan and run your business?

As a rule, all information about your business performance and customers’ preferences is stored within the company business management systems. However, due to access restriction, it often turns out that such valuable information is unavailable for strategic planning. Moreover, main contracting parties and suppliers have difficulty in gaining access to the company’s data and processes which hinders smooth cooperation with customers.

To prepare for the implementation project in line with the best practices, pinpoint all core expectations regarding the system. Surprisingly, companies preparing for the implementation of an ERP system seem to overlook a crucial aspect of the preparation stage – approving the project objectives by the company’s executives. With a list of major project assumptions, choosing the best ERP system as well as the implementation partner will go more smoothly. In most cases, employees preparing for an ERP project, prepare a list of features the ERP system should provide. However, they forget about the fundamental objectives of their business.


Keep in mind that a detailed and precise company vision will considerably simplify work, project estimation as well and quote preparations on the part of the implementation partner. Make sure that your vision is clear and transparent. Misunderstandings at the very beginning of the project can significantly hinder further cooperation.


A guide to selecting the right ERP system

Create your business profile and industry characteristics

A few key decisions must be made before you start looking for the right ERP system as well as the implementation service provider. Define your expectations regarding the software. Choose the best solution and verify it with the selected system provider.

Provide a professional project justification

A well designed Project Justification, made in the form of a report, is an important milestone in preparations for a large implementation project. It should contain a description of project costs and benefits as well as information confirming the validity of the decision to invest in an ERP system.


Most businesses require a project justification presenting a positive return on investment before the final decision is made. A comprehensive report listing potential problems that might arise should be developed.

It will be possible to assess the efficiency of the current system and compare it with the expected results. Key performance indicators are linked with company’s strategic and operational goals and they are an objective source of feedback that is used by managers and employees.

Set up a project steering committee

To implement an ERP system properly, the project stages must be carefully organized and effectively managed. Therefore, it is essential to set up a steering committee and project manager who will be responsible for the progress of implementation works. According to many experts, the most common error committed by business owners is the belief that employees’ involvement will be sufficient. It is true that they are well familiar with the specific aspects of their business. However, they seldom have adequate project experience, especially in the area of complex and costly ERP projects.  It might be useful to consider hiring a manager from outside the organization who will demonstrate the required expertise and experience that are necessary to successfully carry out ERP projects.


Involvement of the employees and full approval of the management are an essential precondition for smooth and efficient implementation of the system. Managers should be fully engaged in the project works not only at the very beginning, but also throughout  all project stages. It must be noted that a lack of participation of the management may lead to delays and a project failure.


The combining of management skills, employees’ engagement, knowledge of the company and its business objectives as well as adopted methodology is the key to success!

Start searching for an ERP system and a reliable system provider

Once the steering committee is selected and system requirements are defined, it is time to start looking for an ERP system provider.  Keep in mind that there are no objective reports on ERP systems and system providers. The listing of “recommended” companies in ERP system provider ratings, in most cases, is not free of charge.

How to find a trusted system provider and a reliable ERP system?

Needless to say, to find the best solution, you need to rely on your own knowledge and devote as much time as needed.  Start browsing the Internet by using the key words such as “ERP system”, “ERP software” or, if you have made your decision, type its name in the search box, e.g. “Microsoft Dynamics NAV”.


Compile a list of the most reliable system providers and IT solutions. If there is an ERP calculator available on the company’s website, use it to calculate the estimated price of the implementation project. While contacting your implementation partner, inform him about your expectations and requirements regarding the solution. Describe your company by specifying the number of employees, locations and your business profile.  When using the ERP calculator, the task seems simple. All you do is just answer a set of questions.  Based on your answers, an implementation consultant will estimate the cost of ERP project services.

Ask about implementation methodology

Many managers seem to underestimate the importance of implementation methodology, especially in the case of large and complex ERP projects.  Before making a final decision concerning the implementation partner, acquaint yourself with the methodology the potential partner uses in ERP projects. If the company does not use any, for safety purposes, exclude it from your list of potential partners.  Whether or not the project is carried out in compliance with adopted methodology has impact on the project output, cost, time and customer’s satisfaction.


Methodology is a set of principles, tools and proven practices that facilitate effective process realization. The Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Methodology is used in implementations of ERP systems designed by Microsoft.  It has been designed based on many-year experience of Microsoft consultants and partners. It incorporates proven procedures that contribute to the faster delivery of an implementation project, its increased quality and cost reduction.


When deciding to implement an ERP system make sure that your potential partner carries out projects in compliance with the adopted methodology and has relevant industry experience and project-related know-how.


Employing an implementation methodology during ERP projects ensures multiple benefits such as cost and time reduction, improved efficiency as well as predictability.   However, bear in mind that the methodology itself will not deliver desirable results if future system users are not fully engaged in the project.

Get to know your implementation partner. Ask about his experience and references.

An implementation partner who seems reliable and trustworthy but lacks appropriate knowledge and experience may jeopardize the success of the project.  Review the company’s project track record and successes by browsing their website.


Have a close look at clients’ logos or case studies. If you don’t find the information you find relevant, as companies are sometimes not allowed to make their clients’ data available to the public, ask for a client reference list. Study it in detail.  If the company has some prior experience in ERP projects related to your industry, it is definitely a big advantage.


With such an experience, they will find it easier to understand the specific nature of your business. It is worth calling selected companies from the list and consult the person responsible for the coordination of the implementation project.  Keep in mind that their opinions can be somewhat subjective. If some of them are not favorable, do not exclude this company from the list of potential implementation partners. Try talking to them and find the causes of misunderstandings.


Verify whether their previous customers had similar project objectives and managed to successfully complete their projects.


An important argument for choosing an implementation partner is the company’s achievements. Many ERP system providers are evaluated and awarded by system developers based on their operational and financial results as well as on the quality of their implementation projects. System developers attach great importance to preparing reliable ratings so that they can be a trusted source of information.


For instance, Microsoft appreciates the value of partners’ competencies and expertise by awarding the Gold and Silver Partner statuses as well as membership into elite groups of the most strategic Microsoft Dynamics partners. Such prestigious titles are granted to companies that have performed to a high standard of excellence by delivering valuable IT solutions.

A final decision and first steps in the implementation process

Once you choose an implementation partner and ERP system that is best suited to the needs of your company, it is time to make the final decision and discuss the ultimate costs of license, modifications and implementation services. The costs of software and implementation services, however, should not be a key factor in the decision-making process. Choosing the cheapest solution may result in a project failure and higher costs of the whole project. Obviously, it is always worth trying to negotiate, but use your good judgment and common sense. Needless to say, the high quality of customer service and a top-class ERP system must cost more.


When the implementation agreement has been signed, it is time to start actions in compliance with methodology guidelines!

Calculate the cost of your ERP system and get for free the ERP system guide.