My comparison of an ERP solution to a marriage has been met with varying degrees of skepticism over the years. For those of you who feel that it’s a tenuous link, let me ask you two questions:
Could you be charmed by an enticing vision crafted by a salesperson? Could you be influenced by your people who get along with the people at your ERP vendor?
Exactly. A relationship forged by your heart and not your head. A bit like marriage, right?
Whichever way you chose to make your decision, here are some common errors you should steer clear of when when going through an ERP section process:
- If you need an ERP system, buy an ERP system
Beware of products that have been bolted together and not designed cohesively, this can result in poor product quality. Select an ERP system that has been written as an ERP system from the ground up, rather than one that started life as an accounts only package, or a traditional MRP engine. The best fit for your business is a system that has been built around your needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all model when it comes to ERP.
- Select an ERP system with a focused product strategy
Be wary of companies that appear too eager to modify the core code of the product, it’s a telling sign of weak product strategy. All ERP software houses have a limited budget and must carefully decide where to spend that budget. Some companies have chosen to adopt a very narrow but deep strategy, this gives them specific advantages in targeted niche industries. Others have decided to adopt a very broad strategy, enabling them to ‘tick the box’ but not being able to deliver rich functionality in any of the specific areas. Look for a system that holds the middle ground: relatively broad within its chosen sectors and sufficiently deep.
- Make ERP work for you, not the other way around
Every business will want something subtly different from their ERP system. Make sure you don’t choose a system that relies on core code development to deliver this. Instead, look for an ERP solution that enables customers to tailor the software to their precise requirements at a low total cost of ownership rather than relying on core code changes or having to spend a considerable amount on setting thousands of standard parameters and switches.
- Use best of breed in your ERP solution
The definition of ERP is quite loose. ERP systems offer different modules and differing levels of proprietary functionality. As a general rule of thumb, avoid systems that still maintain their own reporting engines, proprietary databases, CRM, payroll and so on. If the ERP house is spending time and money developing these products they are not focusing on developing the core ERP product.
- Make sure the team work for you
One item often debated is the product owner vs. reseller model. There are pros and cons to each. When selecting an ERP package make sure you understand who is responsible for what. Customers need a centralized development team, focused on delivering enhancements to the core product, supported by localized development teams that can help tailor the ERP system to the precise requirements of the customer. On the front line, customers need to work with a service orientated business which has the resources to deliver excellence in support, implementation and training – not a bunch of developers. Pay close attention to how the vendor’s ERP team is structured so you understand how to get the most out of them.
So now you can go and buy …
Once you have avoided these pitfalls and narrowed down the companies, reviewed the products and their capabilities in respect of your business processes, then it’s time to focus on the partner that you feel will deliver you the best long term relationship.