Here at Ultra, we work with many customers to evaluate and choose an ERP solution to support their business. While the core ERP application is typically the most critical part of your overall solution, there are often other ERP add-ons that need to be considered if your organization is going to fully decommission your legacy systems and transform your business.
The following ERP add-ons can impact your overall budget and timeline, so while they may end up being considered “secondary” decisions, you need to understand your options when considering an ERP platform.
Advanced and Third Party ERP Add-Ons
Most ERP systems have a set of ERP add-ons and applications that are delivered as part of their core or standard offering. In addition, they will oftentimes have advanced modules available for customers that may need more functionality in a specific area. Modules commonly seen include planning and scheduling, warehouse management, product lifecycle management, and transportation management. In addition to the advanced modules, some ERP vendors have chosen to partner with other providers for specialty applications rather than build their own ERP add-ons. This is common with Customer Relationship Management, Maintenance, HR/Payroll, and some of those advanced functions previously listed.
In these situations, the vendors have typically written standard integrations so the ERP add-ons and core systems work seamlessly together. It is important when looking at solutions to understand these relationships in terms of options, functionality, and cost.
Payroll and Human Resource Applications
Evaluating the market for Time and Attendance, Payroll, and Human Resources applications can be daunting. There are many full service and niche applications available, and endless options for how to put a solution together and integrate it with other applications. Many of our customers will evaluate the available HR/Payroll offerings once they get down to a short list and/or a finalist for their ERP system. If those offerings do not meet their needs or are not available from the ERP vendor, we will work with them on a smaller scale software selection effort to evaluate other options. Key functions that should be considered include:
- Recruiting / Applicant Tracking / Onboarding
- Employee Development / Performance / Training
- Benefits Management
- Time and Attendance
- Payroll Processing and Tax Filing – either in house or via a third party processor
- Safety and Wellness
- Reporting – including OSHA, ACA and other regulatory/required reporting
Sales and Use Taxes
Depending on the requirements and capabilities of a selected ERP system, many companies will consider using a third party tax engine such as Vertex or Avalara. Because tax calculations and filings can be very complex, some vendors have not built this functionality into their product, assuming that one of these ERP add-ons will be used. Tax rates can also require a lot of time to maintain manually, so these solutions are often recommended. Knowing whether a third party tax engine might be required up front will help you set the appropriate budget and expectations for your ERP solution.
Reporting / Business Intelligence
Finally, you should consider your needs and expectations on ERP add-ons regarding reporting and business intelligence. Managers or executives will sometimes have expectations of getting informative reports, dashboards, and analytical data out of the ERP application, but the implementation of their ERP system is primarily focused on getting transactions processed, which can lead to a disappointing outcome.
Understanding your options for pulling data out of the system, creating dashboards or critical reports, providing analytical tools, and scoping the implementation phases and budgets up front can help set proper expectations, and help you appropriately scope and plan the implementation.
While these ERP add-ons should be considered when selecting your ERP solution, that does not mean they must all be implemented at once. Scoping your project might include multiple phases where you can take advantage of some of the advanced modules and reporting tools. By going into your ERP implementation from the beginning with this understanding, you will have an easier time setting your project up for success.
To learn more about selecting the right ERP solution for you, refer to our whitepaper, “Best Practices in ERP Vendor Selection.“