8 CONSIDERATIONS BEFORE ENGAGING AN ERP VENDOR
By the time you are considering an ERP solution you have probably outgrown the systems that got you to that point. Maybe you have been operating with disparate systems that do not sufficiently communicate, and you just cannot continue like that anymore.
Regardless of your situation, selecting an ERP solution and the related vendor are not small tasks. There are number of things to consider, and the following are ones you may like to highlight.
Your Current State
You can’t reach your destination if you don’t know where you are now. Have you sufficiently examined your current state of operations? Where are things failing? What is the staff saying they need or where are they having problems? What applications and processes are in place now? What processes depend on existing applications? What version of the software are you using? How much customization, if any, occurred during the software implementation? What is the quality of your reporting? Are you having trouble handling production volumes?
Build Your Steering Committee
Representation from key stakeholder groups in the selection process will ensure that you meet user needs. The responsibility for selecting an ERP should not fall to one or just a few select people. The steering or selection committee should have representatives from all the key areas of the business that will either use or be impacted by the ERP solution. Hearing from key stakeholders will go a long way to ensuring that you are meeting their needs and that you do not overlook their requirements. You don’t want the “hey, where is my…?” after implementation. You should also consider that the steering or selection committee focuses solely on the selection of an ERP vendor. The committee should be in place for the duration of the project for oversight.
Gather Your Requirements
Building on consideration #1, you will want to gather your requirements from members of the steering committee or their designates based on an assessment of the organization’s current state, corporate objectives, and budget. You may wish to involve someone with business analysis skills to help gather and organize the requirements.
Build Your Vendor Scorecard
You may wish to develop a scorecard itemizing the criteria by which you will select a vendor and assign some scoring mechanism to aid in the process. Criteria may include key features, industries served, years in business, and size of the organization to name just a few. Comb forums and blogs to find out what users feel about the various vendors. Tap your network for input if possible too.
Engage Vendors For A Response
Begin engaging vendors to respond to your inquiry via an RFI/RFQ/RFP depending on your preferences. Leverage industry analysts to identify a broader list of vendors from which to make your selection. Do you own research and add or remove potential vendors too?
Apply your scorecard to your broad list of vendors to reduce it to a short list of select vendors that more closely fit your criteria. It is up to you how firmly or loosely you apply scrutiny to the list and the application of the scorecard.
Demo and Due Diligence
Those that make the short list can move forward to the demo stage where the potential vendor provides a thorough presentation and demonstration of what their solution can do and what their company can do to meet your needs. During this stage, you should also be conducting your due diligence on the company itself as well as their current and past clients as references. You want a company with experience, stable operations, a strong yet flexible solution, and most of all, satisfied customers.
Selection and Contract
Once you have completed the demonstration and due diligence stages, then it is time to select the vendor, assuming one or more of them met your selection criteria and instills the confidence you need to go forward. You are going to be working with the firm and their solution for a long time so you want to be certain you can work closely with them. Incorporate your requirements into a statement of work included as part of the contract. Consider the contract negotiation stage to also be a part of the selection process. It is a negotiation with each party trying to protect their interests while finding points of agreement, but that does not mean that it should be an unpleasant or hostile experience. If the negotiations are tense then, that may be a sign that your working relationship could end up being contentious. Too much is at stake to have that kind of ongoing working relationship.
There is a lot to consider when selecting an ERP vendor, and these are some of the key ones. You may have your own or have other questions, and we would welcome the opportunity to discuss them further with you. Feel free to comment below or reach out to us directly.