Is your bracket busted? It’s okay. I don’t think anyone saw Dayton, Georgia State, or UAB coming. This is part of what makes the NCAA basketball tournament so much fun to watch. There is no guaranteed outcome, and Cinderella may emerge from her pumpkin at any given time. The games are among the best basketball games you will see all season. It is one of the most exciting times of year for any college basketball fan.
It is the time of the year when “Cinderella” emerges from her pumpkin and casts her shadow of expectancy. It happens every year! There is always a Cinderella team that comes to the dance and makes the other debutantes huddle in corners casting questioning glances at this new girl. It is the beauty of the NCAA Tournament. No matter how exciting the emergence of the Cinderella, we all know that deep down, Cinderella may have only had enough magic to pull it off once. If the same two teams played a week later, or under different circumstances the likelihood of Cinderella coming away with the win is diminished. It doesn’t mean Cinderella is undeserving, and that she is any less beautiful, or talented, it just means that the clock will eventually strike midnight.
So when do you NOT want to see a Cinderella emerge? When you are selecting your new ERP software. Software selection is a lot like a tournament bracket. You start with 10-15 vendors, then you narrow the field down to your top 4. The real challenge is not to get “Cinderella’d”. Software demo teams train for the opportunity to get in front of potential buyers and persuade them that their software is everything you ever hoped for, and more. But what happens when the clock strikes midnight?
The need to come with a clear and concise list of needs vs. “would be nice to have” is crucial. Demo teams will focus on the list of your stated needs and then they will dazzle you with the optional extras, thus creating a Cinderella experience. You have seen all she has to offer and her good side, but have you truly analyzed Cinderella’s ability to meet your needs?
There are steps you can take in order to avoid getting “Cinderella’d”.
1. When you are creating your short list of vendors, make sure you understand what each vendor solution offers, and compare the functionality. You should already have a list of requirements and options that would be nice to have. If you don’t have a list of core requirements at this point, then you need to stop and determine what you need to operationally, what would enhance and streamline operations, and what would be really nice to have but could be purchased as a Phase 2 item.
2. Once you have compared the core functionality of each vendor’s software, and determined which vendors offer the core functionality and any additional functions that would enhance operations – then you can create a short list. A short list should be no more than 5 vendors, and that may even be a lot.
3. Before the demo, provide the vendor with functionality requirements that you would like to see. This not only gives you the ability to have some control over what is being demoed for you, but also keeps you focused. Also, allow the vendor to demo the functionality that is potentially operations-enhancing and allow them to use any remaining time to demo software modules that they recommend for you. It isn’t a bad thing to give the demo team some creative liberty. Remember, you have already provided the core requirements that you want to see, but demo teams analyze manufacturing facilities everyday, and make recommendations. This creative liberty may expose something that you had not thought of.
4. Use an unbiased measurement. Creating a form that ranks functionality on an easy 1-10 scale and having your team utilize this form during a demo will assist in getting an unbiased reaction to what the team has seen. Use these forms to rank the solutions that you have seen, then move into discussion. If you have team member that has used a software before, that can be a nice real world recommendation, but don’t let that person’s experience and enthusiasm overshadow the possibility that another software could be a better fit for you. Also, if you are using a consultant, make sure that they are unbiased. Check the consultants software recommendations for their last 20-30 customers. If you see a pattern or one software chosen 75% of the time or more, it could be a sign that your consultant has already chosen his/her favorite.
These steps are simple, but effective in keeping focused on functionality and keep yourself from getting “Cinderella’d”.