Amazingly, the ERP industry is now over 40 years old.
In 40 years, most veterans of ERP will have noted that the ERP industry has transformed from an ‘ERP solution sold on the golf course’ to a solution that is discovery led and drives business benefit. With more online ERP content being published by providers, promising you increased business success, with a higher ROI than ever, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by information. This can make it difficult to understand what is and isn’t achievable from the solution, and who is best placed to deliver the solution that fits your business needs.
The maturity within the industry has also changed the approach, and costs associated with ERP selection. In some instances, the evaluation costs have increased, as the due diligence process has become far more involved to ensure that the ERP delivers the required business benefits.
The industry is saturated with ‘project managers/ex ERP industry experts’ and ERP selection consultants who will offer their services to advise on how your business works and to guide you through the selection process. This works for some, but often focusses on the functional requirements they have uncovered, and does not recognise or address the value that can be achieved by choosing the correct product and, more importantly, the partner. Therefore, it is vital when selecting an ERP solution that you choose your consultant very carefully and engage with a trusted implementation partner.
Why? You May Ask
You know your business better than anybody!
It is only right that you work with a partner who shares your vision and supports you through the selection process. Somebody who understands your business needs and can translate these into a functional ERP solution. They will be able to assist you to assemble your project team, a difficult task in any business, especially one with limited resources. They will advise on business transformation as well as help to deliver the ERP solution. If done correctly this can drive a very positive cultural outcome.
Businesses that have experienced at least one ERP implementation or one cycle of an ERP upgrade will appreciate the pain of lessons learnt and the commitment required to migrate from one solution to another. These businesses will be keen to minimise any risk associated with their next selection. The functional characteristics and options of most ERP solutions are available directly from the regional analysts such as Gartner, Nucleus, TecEval – these businesses operate to provide impartial ERP advice.
Consider the following during your selection process:
- Understand your business and think about the value and not purely the functional fit.
- If you use an ERP selection consultant, choose wisely, ensure that they do not use a ‘one cap fits all’ template for selection and that they are taking an unbiased view of the optional products and partners.
- Allow the providers access to your business and your team to ask the questions and perform the discovery. A demonstration based on a cold functional Request for Information without discovery will generally miss the mark.
- If an ERP implementation partner offers you a free business analysis or discovery and offers to present this back to you – take it. You can measure the provider on their ability to understand your requirements quickly, and articulately play back their understanding of your needs, your industry and business.
- Do your own research to understand if a provider has experience and references in your industry, for your type of manufacturing, distribution or specialised business process.
- Take responsibility for your ERP selection process and ownership of the implementation phases. You are buying software for you and your business, empowering somebody else to influence that decision who can walk away at any time is less likely to be a measured success.
- Visit the offices of the contenders to meet the team and experience the culture of that business. They will be a partner long after the consultant has completed their contract, so the relationship and trust need to be built from the start of the selection journey.
- Always ask yourself the question – is your business taking the right level of responsibility for ERP selection, implementation and management?