The right enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution will be able to support your business for years to come, growing and adapting as your business grows and your requirements change. Because of this, it's essential for you to choose your new ERP solution carefully. During the past several weeks, we've been publishing a blog series to help you identify and explore the critical requirements you should factor into your ERP purchase decision. You can read last week's topic here and catch up on the larger discussion our series is driving via Twitter at #ERPONYOURTERMS.

This week's question is designed to help you find an ERP vendor in today's fragmented ERP market that can meet your needs both now and in the future:

How stable is the vendor, and do they understand and serve customers like me?

Let's start with the first part of the question. Your new ERP solution will have the potential for a long and productive work life. But what happens if the vendor goes out of business or gets acquired by another company during that time? A lot could change. Where will you get routine support and resolve urgent technical problems? Who will help you integrate new line-of-business applications? If the vendor goes out of business, will you be able to upgrade your ERP solution, or will you be confined to increasingly outdated technology that is no longer supported? If the vendor gets acquired, will the new provider build products on the same technology platform, or make future upgrades more complex and costly? Even worse, will the new owner stop investing in the product altogether, leaving you with a solution of diminishing value? Clearly, a lot of uncertainty and risk can be avoided by choosing a vendor with a solid future.

It's also important to understand how your business fits the customer profile of each vendor. Is your industry an important part of the vendor's business? How about customers your size? If the vendor has a track record of serving companies your size and in your industry, they'll understand how your business works, they'll have expertise to apply, and they'll be efficient in meeting your needs. But you don't want your company to be the "experiment" that helps the vendor decide whether or not to get more involved with companies your size and in your industry.

Software company dissolutions, consolidations, and buyouts are not uncommon. So before you sign on the dotted line, take the time to evaluate each vendor's long-term prospects and their focus on both your industry and companies your size. It will be time well spent.

Why Microsoft Dynamics ERP?

Here are three reasons.

First, Microsoft offers Business Ready Customer Care, which establishes a new standard for customer service by extending support for Microsoft Dynamics line-of-business management software solutions beyond industry practices-to a full ten years of extended product support. You'll have plenty of other things on your mind as you navigate the future. Business Ready Customer Care offers you peace of mind about your ERP solution investment.

Second, Microsoft has staying power. The Microsoft Business Division recently reported U.S. $5.62 billion in first-quarter revenue, 8 percent above the prior-year period, which included the Microsoft Office 2010 launch. Microsoft productivity server offerings, including Lync, SharePoint, and Exchange, posted double-digit revenue growth, and the Microsoft Dynamics business grew 17 percent in the quarter. Performance at this level makes Microsoft a safe bet for the long term. Review our financial results in more detail here.

Customer Stories

The third reason for talking to Microsoft Dynamics about your next ERP solution is our customer base. It isn't concentrated in Fortune 500 companies or in one or just a few industries. And it isn't geographically restricted. It includes thousands of companies and millions of individual users in companies like yours, around the world. Working with companies like yours is not an "experiment" for Microsoft Dynamics. It's what we've done for more than 25 years. But don't just take our word for it. Learn about a few companies that are turning their business vision into reality with help from Microsoft Dynamics ERP.

Ahmad Tea: Global Tea Company Supports Varied Operations with Flexible, Adaptable ERP System

Rypos: Clean-Technology Provider Uses ERP System to Manage and Grow Complex Business

Syndiant: Fabless Manufacturer Goes to Market with Support from a Cloud-Based ERP Solution

Amax Incorporated: Office Products Distributor Optimizes Finances with Easy-to-Implement ERP Solution

Long-term staying power and a focus on companies like yours are essential characteristics for your ERP vendor-but so is the ability to deliver ongoing innovation. If the vendor has no technology vision or product roadmap to share, their durability and compatibility don't really matter. In our next blog post, we'll examine this question:

What is the vendor's product roadmap and what R&D investments are being made to deliver ongoing value and product innovation?

In the meantime, you can learn more about Microsoft Dynamics ERP at:

www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/erp-small-midsize-business.aspx

With this posting, we're starting a short holiday break. We'll resume our series in early January. Our best wishes to you for a happy Holiday Season!

Jen