The choice of a ERP system (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), CMS (Content Management System), LCMS (Learning Content Management System) or any other that we need, is complicated, since there are countless options in the market, so it is important to review each Software, the Implementer and the Infrastructure, to make the best decision.
This is the most complicated of all, especially if you are a person who does not know about technology, you are studying something related to technology, etc., so I will seek to be as simple and clear as possible (for all types of audiences).
First we have to define what we need at the moment as a company (manage personnel, inventories, etc.), then, what we will need in at medium and long term (this is highly aligned with the company’s growth plans, for example, managing relationships with our customers, partners, imports, etc.). Having both points, we will know what characteristics to look for in the system, since it must serve to fulfill them.
There are MANY types of software licenses (proprietary, open source, free software, and a long etc.), so at this point you have to define who will be responsible for the improvements / growth of the system (IT department, provider, an external …), in any case, implies time and money.
Once determined who will be responsible for the growth, you have to define the license that is most convenient for this purpose, so I briefly explain some:
Proprietary software – It is commercial software, so it is protected by copyright and only the owner (or who has explicit written permission) is allowed to make modifications. This implies that the cost and time are determined by him, as well as it is likely that he will not accept all improvement requests or corrections (if they are not aligned to his plans / roadmap).
Open Source – This software may or may not be commercial, in both cases it is protected by copyright but, it is allowed that other people have access to the code to be able to review it, audit it, improve it, etc., so it allows you to always choose the distributor that suits you best without always having to depend on it; Even your IT department can make improvements.
Free Software – Roughly speaking, it can be said that it is similar to open source, but with greater freedoms (many of the differences correspond to the legal scope or use you want to give it). It is usually free, but it does NOT mean all of them are; It can also be sold protected by copyright, etc. Like open source, anyone can improve it, so you don’t depend on someone in particular for this.
The number and type of licenses is extremely extensive, so they will be detailed in more detail in another publication.
This part corresponds to finding the most appropriate and qualified provider / distributor / person to install and configure the system. A bad choice can turn a good experience into a disastrous one.
Unfortunately, today it is VERY common for projects that were estimated to “a couple of months” to quickly become “endless”, either because of the minimum capacity of the supplier, that the requirements / characteristics needed were poorly defined or a combination of various factors. In any case, they are a bad experience for you since you have to deal with countless problems.
At this point you should review the experience of the supplier / distributor / person, the projects in which they have worked, the time they required, to give us an idea of how they will carry out our project.
Similarly, depending on the type of software license chosen, if necessary we could change from one vendor / distributor to another, to continue where we stayed and to finish the project.
This part is also vital, since choosing the wrong one can give us problems ranging from slowness to security (information theft, etc.). This may or may not come from the same provider / distributor / person or, if required, from an independent provider.
Although the legal issues (corresponding to the protection of information, stability, etc.), vary from one country to another, I recommend that you review the relevant global certifications plus those in your country, for example:
SOC 1, 2 and 3 (Service Organization Control) – This guarantees us that you have the ideal quality and safety; The higher the certification, the better.
PCI DSS 1, 2 and 3 (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) – This indicates that our customer data, corresponding to credit cards, is secure. The higher the certification, the better.
HIPAA 1 to 5 (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability) – This corresponds to the health data of our clients (or staff); The higher the certification, the better.
ISO / IEC 27000: 2018 – Indicates that the information is protected with the highest standards of security and auditing.
HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) – Similar to HIPAA, but as the name implies, for a particular sector.
NIST 800-53 – Corresponds to security and privacy for US federal information systems.
Now that we have all the important considerations, the next step is to make a decision. For this it is VERY important to calculate the ROI (Return Of Investment); It is useless to acquire the best system in the world if we will never recover the investment.
At this point we will choose the three BBB’s (as we say in Mexico) (Bueno -Well, Bonito- Nice, Barato -Cheap), which is not necessarily the cheapest, but not the most expensive; We choose just the best, at the best price.
At the end of the day, everything in the company is translated into money, how much we invest and how much we earn, so you have to consider not only the system investment cost (purchase), but also installation, customization, infrastructure, improvements cost … and it is not only the economic cost of these things, but the time / economic impact that each one implies (it is not the same to be 2 months without a system, doing everything in notebooks … than 10 months and with information risk duplicated or overlapped in notebooks, without counting the volume of it).
ROI = (profit obtained – investment) / investment x 100
The ROI is a percentage (hence it is multiplied by 100 in the end), which can be positive or negative (profit / loss). The higher the percentage, the more profits this system brings, so the decision becomes obvious.
I cannot give examples of these calculations, since each system has its respective cost, as well as each person their salary, etc., so it will never be the same ROI of a system in one company and in another, for example, it is not the same as in Company A a person is paid $ 10 USD an hour and invest 5 hours a day to take the notes in a notebook so that, when using the erp it is reduced to 1 hour … than in Company B, a person is paid $30 USD an hour and spend 2 hours a day to take the notes … and with the system it is reduced to 1 … All those conversions to money, must be done within the company, considering cost per hour (to determine the savings in time that add to the benefits, those that add to the investment), the most direct economic contributions (such as an increase in customers), etc.
About the Author
Graduated with the first place of his generation, he has worked for both, companies and on his own (freelance / consultant), for more than 16 years, helping companies internally (technology, processes, quality …), and externally ( better customer satisfaction, higher sales, etc).
Passionate about technology, over the years he has covered various areas such as infrastructure, big data, development, databases … as other more administrative, such as the management of change implementation at national and Latin American level in banks.