As you may know, I am planning my wedding. In my last post, I likened the hidden costs of this occasion to those associated with an ERP selection. One key component of the big day is my future husband. Finding someone to spend the rest of your life with is a major decision and so is evaluating applications to replace your existing solutions. Choosing a new system is a pricy proposition but as they say, money isn’t everything. Here are five criteria to consider that have nothing to do with price (or love):
- Alignment to Strategic Goals—There are certain goals and experiences I want to achieve and share with my partner including traveling to new cities and having children. Understanding your company’s priorities is just as important to ensure the ERP is designed to meet the objectives of the organization and its users. Will you be expanding into a geographic area? Are you adding products to your portfolio? Think about whether a new technology will enable your business to grow and scale accordingly.
- Vendor References—To minimize the uncertainty inherent in a blind date, I leveraged our mutual friends to conduct my own reference check. What does he do, where did he go to school I asked. To avoid risks associated with costs, deployment and project management, ask the vendor for a list of firms like yours that have gone through the proposed ERP implementation process. Vendors are more than willing to connect your organization with buyers with proven experience with their applications.
- R&D investment—Part of my fiancé’s morning routine includes working out at the gym and listening to an audio book en route to work. I call it self-development, vendors refer to this as research and development. As part of your due diligence process, inquire as to what percentage of revenues are spent on new product development each year. Continued improvements to the way the systems work will give way to continued efficiencies for your processes.
- Product Roadmap— My fiancé is not the same person he was two years ago, and for the better. One notable highlight from a career perspective? He recently became a Partner at his firm. Months or even years could pass by the time you select a ERP solution and implement it. That being said, your decision should not only be based on capabilities today but planned functionality as well. Product roadmaps are easily dismissed as sales tools but access to features in future releases can provide critical insights into the long-term fit with your organization’s requirements.
- User Adoption—To say that my friends and family approve of my fiancé would be an understatement. Lucky for us, we will be able to lean on this positive support system throughout our marriage. Adoption of the ERP technology by users is a critical factor in whether your implementation will be successful. Engage those who turn the wheel every day and educate them on what is happening and the optimization opportunities coming their way. Mapping future functionality to current pain points is a powerful tool in conveying the benefits of a new solution and gaining buy in across the company.
Upon meeting that special solution (or someone), you will experience a range of emotions. Instead of relying on a gut feeling, the considerations above will allow you to make a more informed purchase decision.