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9 Tips to Quickly Identify Your ERP Solution Faster – Part 2

In my last blog posting we started to talk about best practices for identifying an ERP solution and the importance of incorporating best practices into the selection processes. Best practices included being well organized from the start, identifying a Project Team, buy-in from key players, identifying enterprise-wide goals and objectives and more.  The result: a Project Team with a deeper understanding of your entire enterprise and its goals; a team that is able to stay focused with information and knowledge to make a better decision with confidence. 

In this blog, “9 Tips to Quickly Identifying Your ERP Solution Faster – Part 2” of a two part blog series, we will continue to look at the internal processes needed to help you confidently and efficiently choose the best ERP solution for your business. “9 Tips to Quickly Identifying Your ERP Solution Faster” outlined the initial planning and preparation needed to provide your Project Team with valuable tools to keep them focused on your unique goals throughout the selection process.  With proper planning, your Project Team should have the necessary information and insight to confidently make a recommendation based on knowledge, not emotions. The following were covered:

1 – Be Organized

2 – Get Upper Management Buy-In

3 – Understand Your Enterprise-Wide Requirements, Goals and Objectives

4 – Understand Your In-House Resources and Expertise

5 – Know Your Budget and Its Components

Part 2 will focus on the final steps of your vendor evaluations – creating your short list, staying on top of and in control of the demonstration process and reference checks. By following these steps, you will shorten the final phase of selecting your ERP solution, your demonstration cycle, while being able to identify the best ERP solution for you business with clarity.

6) Do Your Research

Assuming steps 1-5 from Part 1 were followed, your Project Team should now have a good understanding of your unique business requirements, available resources and budget. Knowledge is power. Before talking to vendors, it’s wise to do a little research on your own. Talk to colleagues, industry experts, your trusted advisor and others that have recently switched to a new ERP solution and ask them about why they selected the ERP solution they selected and their experience with not only the software, but also the implementation and the consultants that worked on their implementation.

Tip: Knowledge is power.

The internet is also a great research and learning tool to help you gain a good understanding of what is available today. The more knowledge you have going into the process, the better you will be able to assess what is available to you and ask pointed questions throughout the demo process. Knowledge will help eliminate the solutions that will not meet your requirements faster.

7) Don’t Rush Your ERP Demo

If you have done all of the above, then you should have a clear understanding of your organizational needs, including the specific functionality that is most important to your business at which time you are ready to engage the software vendors or a local Value Added Reseller to identify your ERP solution short list.

Don’t relax now! Keep your focus and stay organized! The software vendors will qualify you and some may even tell you that they are a better fit for your business than they actually are and be anxious to demonstrate their ERP solution to you.

Tip: Remember, you know your business best.

 Don’t let the software vendors rush you into a software demonstration because it is at this critical stage that you risk losing all of your focused efforts by being wow’d by a flashy sales demonstration where the vendor’s primary focus is to show you all the whiz bang features of their ERP solution – the cool stuff. That’s the easiest kind of demo for the vendor because it’s the exact same ‘wow’ demo everyone sees and you will find yourself comparing apples to oranges and unable to see through much of the smoke. Instead, take a few steps back to stay in control of your demo. Remember: You know your business best.

8) Be In Charge of Your Own Demo

You have identified your short list and you and your team are ready to see a demonstration of these solutions. This is where your company knowledge and focus become a big asset because you will use your knowledge to create a list of specific features and functionality that you want each of the software vendors to include in their ERP solution demonstration while also shortening the demonstration cycle.

It is not necessary to supply the vendor with a list of features and functionality that extends to 100’s of items. Whereas some may think this is necessary, it’s not, it’s a complete waste of everyone’s time, including your own. Besides, the software vendor isn’t going to demonstrate 100’s of features, they will only show you those that they think differentiate their ERP solution from that of their competitors.

The better approach is for you to assume that most ERP packages within a tier (i.e., Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3) will have a similar set of core features and will therefore be able to meet 70- 80% of your requirements out of the box. Your time is better spent focusing on your top 10, those features or functionality that your organization can not live without in an ERP solution.

Tip: Focus your demo on the top 10 features or functionality  your organization can not live without.

By supplying a vendor with your top 10 feature list, each software demonstration will be aligned to your specific business requirements, allowing you to compare apples to apples instead of apples to oranges, clearing the smoke. Of course, no one ERP solution will meet all of your requirements, but by proactively taking control of your vendor demonstrations you will be able to see how each solution handles your top 1o and make your decision based on what’s most important too your organization.

9) Get References

References are your final step in selecting a new ERP solution, and if you can find industry references that’s even better. Ask the vendor or the Value Added Reseller for three references and when speaking to the customers ask them about their overall experience from the implementation process to how it’s working for them today. Ask them what went well and what didn’t go so well, and if they did it again, what they would do differently.

After having followed the “9 Tips to Quickly Identifying Your ERP Solution Faster” and the “9 Tips to Quickly Identifying Your ERP Solution Faster – Part 2” you should have a favorite! If however your organization is still not confident with their choice, then a proof of concept pilot should be requested where, for a fee, a demonstration can be set up with a trainer or consultant using your company data to demonstrate how the system meets your business requirements.

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Karen Beaulieu

Karen Beaulieu has worked in the ERP software industry for over 15 years. Having worked in a variety of roles from product development, channel and direct sales to marketing, Karen has a unique understanding and perspective of the ERP software industry. Currently Karen works in a marketing capacity for MIS Consulting & Sales and MIS Solutions Canada, ULC.

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