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Whatever process you have taken, you have finally arrived at the point where your company is going to start the journey of selecting and implementing a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) application. You have strong executive leadership and buy-in, now what? There’s a common phrase that states, “you only get out what you put into it”. Simply put, how well or poorly you plan a project or initiative will largely pre-determine the outcome. Now, you are venturing into the ERP application space. To select the best, most appropriate application and vendor, there are key points that are common, if not universal, to companies that have been successful with their ERP projects.
In this ongoing series, we’ll share best practices garnered from decades of working with customers whose ERP implementation success was pre-determined by their planning and execution thereof.
1. Ensure the Project is Properly Staffed and Budgeted
2. Establish an Executive Sponsored Project Team
3. Make a Requirements List but Focus on the High-Level Differentiators
4. Plan for What You Need Today and Tomorrow. Or as Wayne Gretzky said: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”
5. Be Open with Your Vendors
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
7. Limit Your Short List and Schedule Demos Fairly Close Together
8. Focus on Value vs. Bells and Whistles
9. Focus on The Implementation Partner during your Selection Process
10. Fully Utilize References to Aid in your Selection Process
Tip #3- Make a Requirements List but Focus on the High-Level Differentiators
A requirements list is an important part of planning. However, this list and needs for an ERP system should not be the only consideration that guides your purchasing decision. You should also consider what features you'll need as your business grows. Define your requirements for an ERP application by identifying the high-level differentiators. Avoid overlooking key areas of your operation – observe the big picture, while digging sufficiently into the weeds. We worked with an aerospace company that gave us a list of 1,200 requirements, each a paragraph long. It was so detailed the big picture was lost. Requirements lists are good, but make sure you don’t lose focus on the key differentiators that the big picture identifies.
Along these lines, it’s important to be objective by using defined criteria & evaluation tools. Some of the best ERP product demos we have seen show you absolutely nothing that addresses your criteria, but they make the application seem amazing. It’s easy to come away with opinions that may or may not be backed up by demonstrable facts. You may like a particular company or application because of their slick sales pitch, but can they really accomplish your long-term objectives? Ask the vendors on your short list what makes them different from their competition.