You might be wondering why I’m doing this. Why I am documenting the process we went through to select and then implement an ERP solution. I’m doing this as I hope it helps others with their selection. Picking an ERP system is tough and its a lot of pressure. You are spending a lot of money to not only purchase the software but to have it implemented. As well, if you’ve chosen the wrong system or implemented it poorly, it’ll end up costing a lot of money later on. I know, I know, way to sell it, eh? But don’t fear, for every failed ERP implementation there are probably 10 other successful ones. It can work and if done right will work for you too.
If you’ve been following along with this series you have already:
- Obtained upper management’s approval to start the evaluation process [The Path to ERP]
- Listed the high-level issues you want to solve with the new system [The Path to ERP]
- Figured out which segment of the ERP market your organization fits [Where Do I Fit in this Complex ERP World?]
Once you’ve narrowed the field to an ERP market segment, you can start to weeding out the outliers that don’t fit for you. With some Google searches and visiting each solutions website, you’ll quickly build up a sense of what you like and what you don’t like. You should aim for a list of 10 or less, which might still seem like a lot, but honestly it is a good starting point.
What we did next was started talking to our customers and suppliers. We asked what they were using and asked what they liked and didn’t like about the system. We asked questions about the implementation, if they did it themselves or if they hired someone to help. We asked if they were current with the version. Finally, we asked how long it took to implement. In conjunction with this I started using social media and the good old phone to reach out to friends and contacts I’ve made over the years in the CAD industry. These weren’t necessarily CAD people, but it put me into contact with people who knew what their organization was using and in some cases they put me into contact with the people who were responsible for ERP at the organization.
In talking with these people, we started to see a trend on what was the most used solutions. The ones who provided positive feedback on their current solutions also lead us to looking more closely at certain systems. This got us to a list of what we felt were six really strong candidates.
With the list in hand, we started clicking the Contact Me option on each website. This put us in touch with each vendor and I started getting inundated with pdf reports, case studies, product spec sheets, and other information on why we should be using ERP and why we should be using their systems. I used the opportunity early on to get “ballpark” pricing on each system, as I wanted to make sure that we had the right expectations on what it was going to cost us.
Very unintentionally, and completely by chance, one of the vendors sent us an “independent” study of why their system was the best. It was “independent” in that it was written by someone else, but it was paid for by the vendor, so it was very jaded in its view. However, this report provided the ultimate list in what we should be looking for in each system. Our initial intention was to grade each system using the checklist, but this became a daunting task so we decided to just grade each system by section instead. Still, this “find” sure saved us a lot of time. You may not be as “lucky” as us in receiving a list like this, but using the documentation you receive from each vendor, start to compile a check list of things that you want each system to have or to do. This will be handy when you start the demo process.
So between your discussions with the ERP vendors and with others in your industry you want to reduce the list to 6 or less. This will put you into a good position to start the demo process.