The ERP selection process can be time consuming because it is not an item you want to have buyer’s remorse about. Much like buying a car, you want to be as immersed in the experience as possible, like a test drive off the lot.
The first step is making a detailed list of how your current systems and process are falling short. From there, create a list of what your new system needs to have in order to help your business efficiently find the success you want. With this information as a starting place, formal requirements documents, more commonly known as Invitations to Tender (ITTs), can be created not with a list of requirements, but with a list of what you hope to achieve. You want your ERP vendor to understand who your company is and what your goals are. Assuming all of this has been done, and you’ve received favorable responses from a few potential systems, the demo process begins.
What is an ERP demo?
Obviously, an ERP demo is when your company is able to see a preview of what the ERP can do for your business. Demonstrations can take a few different forms, though. Often, it is either a presentation or an actual software demonstration. Some vendors aim to show you how the software would work on any given day, while others may want to demonstrate how the system can be customized to your business through a presentation.
Just a thought while trying to select a vendor and a system, but consider reaching out to other businesses about their experience both with the software and the vendor. Perhaps you could even have a demonstration from another company so that you know truly how the ERP tool would operate in your enterprise.
Which members of the ERP team should attend?
Selecting an ERP system is a big decision; there are many factors to consider. Ideally, in order to make the process as smooth as possible, the complete selection and implementation team should be in attendance of the demo. This way, they can see how the system will operate and ask any questions of the vendor. Other people who could consider attending would be the project sponsor and the steering committee, however, this is with the assumption that they will attend the entirety of each demonstration.
It’s important that each demonstration be attended by members consistently to ensure that information will not be missed. This way, when making your final decisions, all team members will have the necessary information and have the opportunity to ask the vendors questions they may have.
How to feel confident in making your decision
An ERP vendor’s goal is to impress you with all of the bells and whistles. They don’t have time to show you every feature, and because of that, they will focus on the ones that make their system shine. Don’t get distracted; make sure the vendor shows you the features that are important to your company. This shows that they paid attention to your ITT’s requirements and actually have your success and needs in mind.
Vendors will also want to gloss over any weaknesses, or omit them completely if possible. Come prepared to the demonstration with questions and pay attention to what the vendor doesn’t mention. Make sure your questions are specific and are not open to interpretation and vague responses.
Each member of your team should have a copy of the ITT and use it to keep track of vendor comments or feedback on the various requirements. It’s important to take note of things, such as whether or not all the requirements were addressed and which were demonstrated, or simply commented upon.
After analyzing the notes taken during the demo, team members should follow up with the vendor to ensure that the team did not misunderstand or misinterpret something covered in the presentation. It’s important to verify that you and your team understand exactly what the system can and cannot do.
How to evaluate the demo
The ITT is very important in this process, as well. Using the ITT as a checklist, review the vendor’s response and the ERP’s functionality to each item. One way to do this that has proven helpful with many companies is the traffic light system: green is good, red means that it isn’t offered, and yellow means that a modification would have to be made.
How detrimental are those red items? What will the necessary modifications actually require? How long will the modifications take and how might they complicate processes? Red and yellows are to be expected, but it’s important to consider and assess what they mean for the big picture. Will your goals still be attainable?
After all vender demonstrations and presentations have been seen, and after all of the follow up questions have been addressed, it’s time to discuss all of the systems and how they rate with each other. Some systems will be clearly unsuitable, while others will have potential. If there is no clear frontrunner, ask team members to justify their notes and decisions.
Just like test driving a car…sleek designs, fancy presentations, and promises made solely to get your business can distract from what you actually need. A sports car is beautiful, but if you need a car to transport your kids to soccer practice, it isn’t practical. Keep your ITT at the front of your mind and make sure to assess and evaluate each vendor in a consistent, repeatable way.
Another thing to consider, along with which system works best for your business, is which vendor most closely aligns with your style of business. Who will you appreciate doing business with? Which vendors seem to have your best interests and success in mind? At Godlan, we take pride in building relationships with our customers and helping them to utilize their ERP system so that they meet and exceed their business goals. Your success is our success. To hear more about Godlan and Infor Syteline ERP systems, visit www.Godlan.com or call 586.464.4400 today.