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  • ERP

    There are over 1,000 ERP systems in North America and yet The Wall Street Journal has stated that “73.8% of all companies are dissatisfied with their current ERP systems.” Why? There are many theories why implementations can be compromised.

An Alternative
​ERP Evaluation Approach

Hundreds of ERP options exist, each with its own unique strengths and weaknesses, and many with attractive industry-specific capabilities. Then why did the Wall Street Journal state 73.8% of companies do not like their current ERPs? And why did the Standish Group report that 40% spend more than double of what they’d originally budgeted for ERP, or only implement a fraction of what was originally intended?

Evaluating ERP through legacy methods is a complex, time-consuming undertaking. In fact, some claim this task is so daunting it is not even humanly possible. Attempting to reverse any mistake will be very expensive. And getting it right seems to be the exception. No wonder ERP customer dissatisfaction is so high.

Is there an Alternative Evaluation Approach that guarantees success?

ERP is complex, but your evaluation approach does not need to be. It’s a natural tendency to evaluate something complex, with an equally complex evaluation process. Does due diligence (via documenting every functional requirement under the sun and multiple Vendor Sales Demos) help or hinder an informed decision?

ESS can help you quickly to evaluate different ERP systems. We provide;

- Customized ERP Analysis: We'll dive deep into your ERP needs and budget, ensuring a perfect match for your business.

- Side-by-Side Comparison: Our ERP comparison sheet lays it all out. See how Infor stacks up, and if it's the perfect fit, we'll provide a detailed review and connect you with satisfied customers.

- No Strings Attached: Infor may not the sweet spot for your organization. It's completely understandable. We'll guide you to other systems that fit like a glove. 

Find the Truth

ERP Evaluation checklist
​you are welcome to follow

Before You Begin Research - Develop a Business Case for Change

First, prove to yourself that you need to change. ERP is difficult and change is difficult. But so is remaining competitive and profitable. Make sure the change warrants the investment. ERP is a significant investment. A business case based on enhancing or creating a competitive advantage (CA) should be the focus, balanced against the propensity to change. Another term for technology features that can enhance or create a CA are called, Critical Criteria.

Change Management

Organize a decision team of approximately 5 people which will include an Executive. Studies have proven this amount to be optimal in complex decision making. Studies have also shown a lack of Executive Sponsorship (which provides project vision and authority may be needed to meet this vision of change), is a leading cause of failed ERP implementations. Document AS IS workflows and processes of your business. Every company is unique regarding how much change you will need to manage. If change is determined to be too daunting and/or process reengineering with existing technology can achieve your critical criteria goals, a new ERP is not required. 

Unique and Critical Requirements

Document ERP critical criteria and success factor goals upfront, for guidance towards what is most important. Your critical criteria are the must haves to create or sustain competitive advantages, regardless of which ERP you purchase. Keep it concise. Keep it unique to your business. And keep it Objective. Resist adding things such as, “Ease-of-Use”, as a critical criterion due to it being a highly subjective measurement. Critical Criteria are measurable and should not take up more than a couple pages.

Research Similar Critical Criteria – Develop Unique and Critical Requirements

It is easy to compile a list of potential ERP vendors. Just enter “ERP vendors” into a Google search. Make these searches more relevant by including your critical criteria – like, “ERP for A&D, Project-based, ETO Manufacturers.” Once you have a list of ERP Vendors, also investigate as many existing customers as you can find that seem to be like your business.  Just keep in mind you are entering the ERP Marketing Machine that is well-funded, not without bias, and very convincing. Analysts, Systems Integrators, Selection Advice sites, and ERP Vendors are paying top dollar to assure their products and services appear in any “Top ERP systems” list you make. Resist calling/emailing vendors before making a list of your own.

Request for Information (RFI)

Document your list of critical and unique requirements to craft an RFI. Send said RFI to potential ERP vendors to gather high-level information about their offerings, capabilities, and compatibility with your organization. Cover essential aspects in RFIs, such as your must have critical product features, and ongoing support services, towards defining an evaluation short list. If any vendor cannot meet your critical requirements, why would you impose any more of your time or theirs?

Once you have a list of ERP Vendors that service your area, contact them via email. Provide them your listing of Unique and Critical Requirements (RFI), plus any AS IS or TO BE process diagrams. Ask for pricing, ask about support, and above all, ask for at least 5 customers they feel already utilize the same critical and unique requirements you expect to rely on. Set your stopwatch to monitor responses. Compare those companies they share, to ones you’ve researched.

Visit Objective Vendor References

To temper bias and validate the Marketing Machine, interview similar companies that already use these systems you are investigating. Hopefully these similar companies you contact are local so you can visit them (always better than a phone call) and can also confirm the quality of local support.

Prepare to Learn – Asking the right questions to uncover the truth.

Below are questions related to some of the top reasons why ERP projects fail, End up more expensive than budgeted or Critical criteria are never implemented, thereby not achieving the original goal of an ERP investment.

Size - What is the ERP’s targeted customer size? 

IT Resources - Do the references provided employ the same number of IT staff you expect to employ?

Deployment – On-premises or cloud? All other factors remaining constant, does your deployment lend to or subtract from your use of the software or value you’ve realized?

How large is the software vendor? Largest software vendor can mean financial stability but has no correlation to the software functionality meeting your needs.

Are bolt-ons necessary to fill functional gaps? If so, speak with customers that already use these bolt-ons in the same fashion you expect to.

What is the pricing model of the software/vendor? If software price is related to transaction volume, do you have any legal recourse against unreasonable future cost increases?

How long did it take to implement? Were there unforeseen costs? Over/under budget?

Did you achieve everything you’d originally intended?

How is Support?

Critical Criteria related questions – example - Are you using Shop Floor Scheduling built into the ERP (assuming this to be critical)? Why or why not?

What things do you not like about the software, service, or support?

Evaluate Vendor Reputation and Support

There are so many ERP evaluation misassumptions, it is so easy to be fooled. Here are just a few:

- ‘No one has ever been fired by purchasing Name brand’

– not necessarily true with ERPs. Name Brand might be synonymous with generic.

- besides is the ERP vendor relying on their brand instead of quality of their product?

- Low-cost option

– Remember when speaking with references, if they were under or over budget. Maybe in the end it will not be the low-cost option after all?

- Are you being promised the least expensive, fastest implementation and will implement without a hitch?

- Like any Project Manager knows, that triumvirate of benefits is not possible. You can only choose 2 between inexpensive, quality, and fast.

- Easiest to understand UI during the Sales Demo

 – Immediately Easy to understand screens can also mean less sophisticated. It takes years to become fluent with any ERP. How do you know how it is easy just by watching a sales demo?

- Being offered a fixed bid (or not to exceed) to implement any ERP

- There is no such thing as a ‘fixed bid’ ERP implementations. All ‘fixed bid’ claims will include ‘fine print caveats’ that are less than obvious. And if you fall for a ‘fixed bid’ you will waste time proving engagements should be included in the fixed bid, whereas the ERP vendor will be proving why specific features are out of scope.

- “Uniquely designed for specific industries”

 – Horizontally targeted ERPs usually boast unique features. However, they rarely offer the same breadth of functionality as more robust systems. You may not know what is missing from the industry specific system until at least one year using the system.

Engaging Shortlisted Vendors - Trainer led demo

Prior to speaking to ERP salespeople, request and visit references that are local, employ a similar sized IT staff and already utilize your RFI, critical requirements.

Case in Point: Sales demos last a few hours, yet it takes a few years to become ERP fluent.

Trainer-led Demos

Everyone wants to kick the tires and take the car out for a ride before buying. Instead of engaging the Sales Team for a Sales Demo, ask instead that the person behind the keys be on the software delivery team, or a Trainer, that you will rely on after you buy.

Sales Demos are meant to be attractive, regardless of being implementable. There’s a popular phrase in ERP – Don’t let an implementation issue get in the way of a good demo! Trainer-led demos remove this risk and while they can still be appealing, are meant to be implementable due to the presenter having to deliver on their promises.

Recommendations and Referrals

Scheduling Meaningful Meetings with experienced customers is far more insightful than sales demos can ever be. Seek objective insights from companies already using these systems and are past the learning curve. Being past their learning curve they will already know the pros and cons. Why not learn from someone else’s mistakes?

Every ERP has strengths and weaknesses. However, perceived and assumed strengths can dilute your objectivity.

Instead of falling for marketing promises, speak to customers that have already experienced the implementation ups and downs. Remember it takes years to become fluent with any ERP. Never rely on what you perceive by watching a sales demo that lasts only 3 or 4 hours!

When you visit similar companies, here are sample questions about their current ERPs to focus on:

- To have perspective regarding their opinions of their current systems, which system did they use previously?

- Ask if they went live under or over their original budget (so you know how to factor the bids they are proposing). 40% of all ERP implementations end up costing more than double their original budgets.

- Ask about problems they encountered and how their ERP vendor helped them overcome? And how expediently?

- Focus your functionality questions on the same critical requirements you must have. If these companies do not use the same critical requirements already, why are you talking with them?

- Were there any uncomfortable surprises they uncovered after using the system for months (or years)?

- Uncover what they do not like, so you know what to plan around when and if you end up implementing the same system.

- Did the system integrator only teach them to memorize keystrokes? Or was the implementation also a business process improvement exercise? Analyzing current state processes and efficiently leading them to their future state.

System Integrators that collaborate with you to improve your business process are worth their weight in gold.

Agreement Negotiations

Everyone wants a fair price, but not so low you jeopardize your implementation. Aim for a fair deal that is a Win/Win. Both parties are incented to complete the project efficiently and running effectively. Besides you need your ERP Partner to be successful and remain in business. 

Remember, if you do not like the ERP after you go live, why does it matter if you liked their sales demo?

Independent ERP Evaluations

If you are just getting started and would like to discuss how to select ERP with one of our industry experts, please click the link below.

  We will give you the tools to move forward with confidence.

Book a FREE Consultation Session

Good to Knows While Evaluate ERP

The Total Cost of Ownership 

in any ERP Investment

Learn More

Proactive Risk Management and

​Organizational Challenges
Learn More

Most Valuable Step During ERP Vendor Selection?

Learn More

Talk with an ERP advisor

Do you have questions about ERP selection, ERP implementation, ERP trainings or any other issues with digital transformation? Talk with one of our advisor, we'd be glad to help you.

Don't hesitate to contact. Our client policy is 'no string attached'.