How to choose the right ERP for you
I was having a look around the web for tips surrounding selecting an ERP system and most of the results came back with very lengthy detailed instructions on selecting the correct Vendor, but didn't seem to speak to the solution as much as I would have liked. This article relates to selecting the right product for you, not the right vendor. It always depresses me when I hear really good products being discounted from the organisation's short list of options because the sales person wasn't very good or there was a personality clash with the partner that was selling the product. These days there are any number of partners selling the same software, so during your next demo, concentrate first on the product and then on the partner. That way, if you don't like the partner, or salesperson, you can still have a great product (albeit provided by a different partner).
I have been implementing ERP systems for a good few years and I have seen my fair share of the good, the bad and the ugly. Here is a list of of Top 6 things I would make sure of before I purchased an ERP system.
1. The first is to understand the TCO or Total cost of ownership for the product and any potential add ons. It is important to understand whether the licensing is named or concurrent users, this can also determine whether or not one product is actually cheaper or not. Apart from the licensing cost there will be an annual maintenance fee associated to the software as well.
2. During sales demo's, you will be told that system can do things based on questions you ask, or you may even be shown screen shots of the system in the form of a Powerpoint slide show. Don't be fooled into the simple "yes the system can do that", ask to be shwon, and if it requires further setup then ask to be shown during the next demo and make sure you see how it works. Sometimes the system has the functionality you are enquiring about, so the simple answer for the salesperson is yes, but it doesnt work quite the way you are expecting it to.
3. Keep in mind that you want to grow into your software, you do not want to be going through this process again in 10 years time. Make sure it has all the functionality you require and a bit more for where you plan to be in 10 years time.
4. Is the system batch driven or live? It is important to know the difference, ask the questions and see the results in the demo.
5. Make sure the product has a roadmap and you see the roadmap. This may change by the time the versions are released but at least you are sure that the product will still be around in 10 years time.
6. It is important to make sure that you have involvment from staff members from each business unit. They know more about what they do on a daily basis than anyone else. It also allows for greater buy in when the time comes if they had a hand in making the decision.
If you are not comfortable embarking on this process alone, there are contractors that have been through the selection and implementation process that you could get on board to help you throughout the processfrom selection of the software, through the successful implementation, right through to Project Close off and lessons learnt.