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Switching ERPs? When to Make the Change and What to Expect

An ERP is one of the best business investments an organization can make. But as your business grows, sometimes it can grow out of the ERP you chose early on. This isn’t a bad thing—unless you stay with that ERP and watch your business growth and scalability stifle. Instead, it might be time to consider switching ERPs. 

Here’s How You Know It’s Time

Most technology we use will have a limited useful life. That—along with better cameras and shiny titanium cases—is the reason we all get new phones every couple of years. It’s the same with your ERP: What worked for your business at the outset may not suit your needs after several years of growth and change. 

But since switching ERPs is an involved (if useful!) process, it’s best to be sure it’s time to switch before you pull the trigger. Look for signs like:

  • Your goals outstrip your ERP’s capabilities. Startup organizations can easily track starter goals in legacy ERPs or even QuickBooks. Both options are good tools for launch, but they are only capable of managing a limited number of operations. As your business grows and the objectives change, you’re likely to exceed what your original ERP can handle. 
  • The ERP’s scalability has hit its limit. ERPs can manage both increasing and decreasing demand, but the technology still has limits. If your ERP is at its scalability breaking point, you could see an impact on system performance. 
  • Your ERP doesn’t play well with others. Most businesses use a collection of various software solutions that need to talk to each other. If your ERP doesn’t integrate with some or all of the necessary pieces of your tech stack, you run the risk of inconsistent or incorrect data that negatively impacts your decision-making and daily operations. A lack of integration can also cause duplicate efforts that waste time and gum up the works in your established processes. 
  • Business processes aren’t as efficient. Speaking of gumming up the works, the older an ERP system gets, the less likely it is to provide access to data at the speed and consistency that you need. Lack of data causes delays and slows down operations, sometimes even forcing manual workarounds. And it only snowballs from there.
  • No one is using it. This is a big red flag. If the ERP isn’t doing what your users need it to do, they’re likely to stop using it, or at the very least, go around it to manage critical functions. 
  • You’re losing data or worse, can’t get to it. This is especially an issue with legacy ERP systems that rely on older database software and hardware that become prone to downtime or crashes with age. If your system is also struggling to handle larger volumes of data, your organization is at a higher risk of data being lost from improper backups, or corrupted.

If you nodded along with even one of those signs, it’s probably time to look at switching ERPs to a newer and more modern system that can transform your business processes, workflows, and even company culture. 

Preparing for the Switch

That’s not to say that switching ERPs is as easy as upgrading your cell phone (because we all know how that goes sometimes, too). First, you need to research enough to find the right ERP to switch over to. Consider cloud-based ERPs like NetSuite. Look at longer-term goals like how you plan to scale over the next 5 – 10 years so that you can get a system that will grow with you. Work out the budget for the must-haves and nice-to-haves. Have a good understanding of exactly what you’re looking for when you switch ERPs. 

And then brace yourself for actually switching ERPs. The process can be complex and nuanced, but the more prepared—and patient—you are for the challenges, the better your success with switching ERPs will be. 

Data Migration
This can be the trickiest part of the process to navigate when switching ERPs, especially when data is stored in multiple systems. Use this opportunity to cleanse and dedupe your data after it is extracted from the existing systems and before it is uploaded to the new system. Make sure you double-check the mapping, especially if there are changes in field labels between systems. Back up your data, too, so critical information doesn’t get lost in the process. 

Business Disruption
Because switching ERPs takes time before, during, and after the change is made, you’ll need to understand that this shift is going to have an impact on resources. Plan for downtimes and disruptions in data access and let teams and customers know what you expect to face and that it will be temporary on the road to better service. It doesn’t hurt to also set a plan for worst-case scenarios just so you’re prepared before any problems surface.

Pushback from Teams
Change is hard, and moving to a new ERP will update how certain workflows are accomplished, even changing up muscle memory on where to click to access specific information. A good portion of your staff will be less than enthusiastic. Have a thorough change management plan on hand and be sure to communicate, communicate, communicate. The more users know about the new system, how it works, and why you’re switching, the more likely they are to get on board with big changes. 

Considerable Investment
Even though switching ERPs can save money down the road, the fact still remains that switching ERPs can be costly at the beginning. No one wants to be caught by surprise if it takes longer or costs more than anticipated. Make sure to build some financial models to prepare for different scenarios occurring during your switch. A full cost assessment should include not only the sticker price of the new ERP, but also any indirect costs such as downtime, decreased productivity, or customer satisfaction issues. 

Customize and Integrate
You may be switching ERPs to gain more capabilities, but you’ll still need some customization and integration. (Read more about how to make standard ERPs work for you!) Handle your customization and integration with care—consider leaning on the expertise of your new ERP system provider—to confirm you have accurate data mapping, migration, and security. 

Switching ERPs with the Help of CloudExtend

The good news is that once you’re done switching ERPs if you picked the right software for the job, you’ll reap plenty of rewards on everything from cost control to decision-making, collaboration, automation, accessibility, scalability, and security. 

We work with plenty of organizations that are switching or have just switched ERPs over to NetSuite. And we love those organizations because we love being on the frontlines of helping them get data into their new NetSuite ERP. Our Excel integration app makes it simple and easy to upload data to NetSuite—up to 10,000 lines at once! Not to mention that CloudExtend lets you bypass CSV uploads in the native UI to upload directly from Excel with real-time data validation. Then, once you’ve completed switching ERPs to NetSuite, CloudExtend Excel empowers your reporting processes by combining NetSuite saved searches with the power and flexibility of Excel. Refresh data automatically or on-demand for near real-time visibility into what’s going on in the business. 

So if you’re looking at switching ERPs this year and NetSuite is at the top of your list, we’d like to help you out with this big transition. Check it out for free for two weeks.