Choosing which ERP or business management software to purchase is a challenge in itself but selecting which ERP software vendor to go with is a critical decision that needs careful consideration. Your choice of provider could prove a major factor in your future success. They hold the key to ensuring you obtain an immediate return on your investment and continued success long into the future.
We now accept that there are many solution providers that claim to be ‘the right fit’ for your business. We also understand that every company implements and utilises their software to different degrees. If you want to get the best from the software you have selected then it is essential you choose the right partner to get you where you want to be.
Here are some key attributes you should look out for…
Vendors should have your best interests at heart.
This is the basis of a successful implementation and long term partnership. Having access to the people that will be involved in the various stages of your implementation, be it directly or via your dedicated project manager, is imperative. An open, honest and two-way communication channel is vital from the sales process right through the lifecyle of your system.
Vendors who can provide an ‘All-in-one’ solution (software + all the services that go along with implementing and ERP solution, maintenance & support + ICT = + training) will have less variables for both you and the solutions provider to manage and control and the roll of the project manager can remain tightly focused on your implementation.
Similarly, your vendor should look to utilising industry standard technology whilst also competently liaising with your hardware provider. Likewise, your hardware provider should also be competent with the vendor’s infrastructural requirements.
Training is vital and should never be under-subscribed.
Your staff will not get a bonus for a successful go-live but are going to undertake additional work and learning for the benefit of your business. A well-managed project can alleviate some of this and should not be underestimated. You must also allow your staff to embrace the new system and the benefits it brings so that you can ultimately deliver on your investment.
It is also important to be happy with the consultants you have on-site and have faith in their ability. They are not there to tell you how to run your business but should be afforded the opportunity to impart their knowledge. Best practice must be evaluated; what is right for one company may not fit another.
A quality consultant will not deliver standard training courses either. They should be able to utilise the software to your advantage and apply business logic to the solution, obtaining the correct processes for you; whether it is data flow, management controls, data drills or pivot tables to reflect information the way you want it.
Also, it is important to keep in mind that your initial training prior to going live gives you the head start you need to master your day-to-day processes. For many businesses, going live on their new system is thought of as the project’s grand achievement. Whilst it may feel like this at the time, it is often only months down the line when you realize that there are so many more capabilities within your system to explore. This is the time to look at how your system can be fully utilised to enable your business to operate at its best. So find out what further training your vendor offers post-implementation. What areas of the package are covered? Where is the training held? etc.
Know your ERP Software vendors’ capabilities
The key stages of an ERP software implementation and future ownership of your system MUST be considered vital to the success of your implementation and return of investment.
When dealing with a prospect recently they pointed to a competitor who claimed dealing with an Irish/UK based single vendor provided an element of risk. From a multi-national themselves, they asked about the financial strength of our organisation (financial stability is a must) and commented on the fact that should the requirement arise, they could pass a problem from Ireland to England and even to America. An interesting point, but when you evaluate your partner, it is important to know they have the expertise on the ground to support you at all stages, from implementation, go-live and long into the future. For instance, here at Intact, if an issue arises, our customers are comforted by the fact that while initially they’ll go through to their local Technical Support team, it can be passed on to our consultants and/or, if necessary, they have access to the development team who designed the software.
Likewise when you require customisation, modern technologies such as .NET, have provided the necessary tools that allow systems to be designed on a rapid development framework, enabling the response times, deployment and costs of such requests to be greatly reduced.
What the future holds
With a successful go-live an ERP software vendor should not consider their task to be complete. Technology and efficiencies to be gained are moving at an ever increasing pace. Most software houses will include update cover as part of your annual fee. This is something we will always recommend. Allocating an IT budget to this will enable you to take advantage of any advancement in your solution and see you continuing to receive a healthy return in investment long into the future.
Worth A Read: ERP – A Total Business Management System