Computers and Technology

Tips for choosing an ERP for Pharma

Choosing the right ERP

Companies of any size operating in the pharma industry can benefit from streamlining their processes with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, whether it’s a small startup or multi-national corporation. Choosing the right system, however, isn’t just about checking off the features you want in an ERP – there are a number of important factors that need to be considered before making a selection that your organization will have to live with. Below we outline some of these considerations in order to help you decide which ERP will be right for your company and its specific needs.

While there is still a large percentage of big pharma still operating in silos, others have migrated to modern ERP systems in order to reduce costs and streamline operations. But just what does an ERP do, and how can it help lower expenses within such a highly regulated sector? What key considerations should be weighed when adopting an ERP system as part of a modern business strategy? Are there partners that understand your industry and are willing to help?

Before choosing a provider or solution that suits your corporate needs you need to make sure you do enough research into the current state. This includes taking a look at all available options for products and services.

  • How capable is their infrastructure? 
  • Is the maintenance performed regularly on all of their IT resources? 
  • What kind of applications can be implemented so far? 
  • What is the database & application architecture like? 
  • Do they know how to prevent and handle security threats common to your industry?

Typical features of ERP in pharma

When organizations in the pharmaceutical industry have made the decision to implement new software there’s a real need to look at the special requirements of accounting and reporting; regulatory compliance; supply chain management, financial controls and reporting; inventory management, and forecasting. In addition to accounting, most customizing focuses on material master planning, control, tracking, and safety.

A good vendor will take the time upfront to understand your business objectives and structure so they can present a system designed specifically around how your business operates now, and in the future. And keep in mind that implementing any ERP takes time – on average, nine months to two years – so don’t let impatience negatively affect decisions during due diligence. Make sure all contracts address appropriate contingencies.

Here are things you need to know that can help you choose the best ERP that’s suited to your company’s unique needs: 

1. The source of data

Is it a standalone system or is it integrated with other systems? 

2. Flexibility

What flexibility does your vendor offer in terms of customizing features? 

3. Back-up and recovery

If there is a disruption in service, what backup procedures are followed by your vendor? 

4. Audit trail/review capabilities

Can you easily track changes made to sensitive financial parameters without disrupting their integrity? 

5. Vendor stability

Does your vendor have a stable workforce with experience in your industry? Make sure that these vendors have put forth real thought into their proposals prior to sending them over. Any small gaps can turn into bigger problems later on.

Key benefits of ERP for pharma

When you’re evaluating ERPs for your organization it also helps to know how ERPs stand to benefit your business, which can include the following

  • Minimizing cost of traditional spreadsheets 

An efficient software can streamline your operations, making it easier to stay organized and reducing paperwork. While using traditional spreadsheets has been somewhat effective, they’re time-consuming to set up and don’t allow you to track data in a meaningful way. Using an ERP system will free up valuable time that can be used elsewhere. 

  • Making use of real-time reporting

Since many operational processes within pharma companies have so many moving parts. Being able to get more accurate information on demand is invaluable. This is where real-time reporting comes into play; with an ERP system, critical information can be accessed at any moment across different departments within a company. 

  • Allowing you to take on more challenges

Building a business often involves tackling one challenge after another. One reason why startups are driven by their founders is that only they truly understand how difficult these situations can be. With an ERP system, you will not only be better equipped to meet these challenges but also benefit from all that experience down the road. 

  • Keeping operations under control

Establishing clear goals and objectives is a good way to keep your day-to-day operations running smoothly as well as help grow your business overall. In other words, there needs to be a plan behind everything you do if you want success in your field. If a startup doesn’t think things through from start to finish, it will eventually lead nowhere. A great advantage of an ERP system is that each member within your organization can easily see what their roles are throughout every step of production and distribution. Having specific plans helps guide them toward common goals, which makes it easier for them to follow guidelines without causing disruptions or confusion along the way. 

  • Automating areas that require frequent input

For example, some functions in an ERP system automatically update tasks like supplier orders or quality control results whenever a change is made to pertinent documents. As opposed to updating each task individually, employees just need to enter information once—and most likely on separate applications—which reduces repetition and allows users to spend less time formatting similar work over and over again

Tips for choosing an ERP for the pharma industry

The software behind a company’s operations is one of its most important assets. Pharma companies, in particular, face unique challenges that many other industries don’t have to deal with—from maintaining high regulatory standards to making sure their supply chain meets compliance regulations—and each of these factors needs to be taken into account when shopping around for an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Choose a system that is flexible

The needs of a new company are much different than those of a company with years of experience. It’s vital to choose an ERP that allows you to scale as your business grows, whether it be adding more modules or making changes to current modules. 

Ensure that implementation takes place immediately

Whether your chosen software comes from a local vendor or in-house team. Ensure that implementation takes place immediately after signing off on your plan. The last thing you want is a lengthy deployment period where sales and inventory aren’t being managed properly. Or worse, at all! 

Know what you need before starting discussions

Before entering into discussions with any potential vendor, know exactly what functionality is required. This will give vendors something specific to discuss with you rather than trying to sell everything in their portfolio, which can waste valuable time.

You also want to consider how well the product integrates with existing business systems. Especially if you already have large volumes of data stored somewhere else. Make sure your team will easily be able to integrate any new products into day-to-day operations; it could mean all the difference between smooth sailing and chaos down the road. 

Final Thoughts

The overall cost of a software system is not the only thing that should be considered before making any large investments in a solution to manage your entire operation. The functionality, benefits, ease of use, and suitability of your business are now critical factors when deciding which system to go with – You don’t want to rush the process and end with a complicated, difficult-to-use solution. 

There are plenty of good options out there. And you don’t want to choose them simply because they’re cheap or expensive. Especially if you haven’t identified the critical functionality of features. If you still need help deciding which ERP product will work best for you. Taking the help of an experienced partner is the best way to get professional results.

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