Software Advice released their eBook “How to Avoid ERP Implementation Failures” giving practical input and summarizing with ‘Best Practices’. Best Practice #4 is ‘Know what you need and know what you’re buying’. We all know how important it is to do your homework when making a significant investment for your organization. And there are resources available to us making this easier than ever. When doing your homework for an ERP investment, researching online is only the start. Let’s see what Software Advice has to say on this topic.
Burnson: For this Best Practice, it is critical to ensure that the vendor you’re buying from can provide the functionality you need. When it comes to a Process Manufacturing ERP solution, many ERP vendors will say they cater toward process manufacturing, but their solution often lacks critical features that are essential for the industry. Often standard ERP solutions have been enhanced for the process manufacturing industry, rather than being designed for the industry from the start. This typically leads to a heavily customized system. Burnson’s advice includes:
- Do your Homework so that you ‘Know what you Need’
- Meet with key managers in your company and/or consider retaining a Technology Consultant if the company has not upgraded its ERP in over 10 years
- Do your Homework so that you ‘Know what you’re Buying’
- Review the Software through Product Demonstrations customized for your business to see what a Vendor actually offers
- Verify the Vendor has many Customers in your Industry and ask for Client References
Hudson: As Burnson shared, matching your company requirements with what the ERP solution delivers begins with verifying that the ERP solution is designed for process manufacturers (from the start and not as an after-thought). It’s also important for the customer to share in the responsibility of ‘Knowing what you are buying’. No question should be off-limits so ask the hard, in-depth questions. Request a product demonstration that’s geared to your business (if possible, using some of your data). Here are some key factors for this Best Practice:
- Categorize needs/requirements by time (example within 3 months, within 6 months and after 6 months) which prioritizes needs and impacts product presentation and implementation
- Minimize gaps between what you need and what the solution offers by requesting product presentations and by asking in-depth questions
- Ensure the continued engagement of the company stakeholders until the project implementation is complete
- Understand that if the solution requires ‘some customization’ based on your unique requirements that these can be handled as a change request
The responsibility to know what you need and know what you’re buying rests heavily on the company making the purchase. Do your preparatory work by asking the questions, requesting the product presentation and talking to other customers. You won’t regret your efforts!
Christy Hudson is a Sr. Marketing Manager at BatchMaster Software. She is approaching the 30-year mark working with and for organizations providing ERP solutions to the for process manufacturing industry. Christy has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She has also completed numerous courses in Marketing and Accounting.
Forrest Burnson is a market research associate at Software Advice, a firm that connects software buyers with vendors where he covers the ERP, inventory management and supply chain markets. He graduated from the University of the South with degrees in political science and French studies. In 2013, he earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas.