What do you know about your ERP Software Vendor?

You should develop an up close and personal relationship with an ERP software vendor before you make the final decision to invest in their software.

Take your time when carrying out your due diligence on different ERP software vendors. Research trends in the ERP industry to see who is currently in the top ten. If you are evaluating more than one ERP software package you have probably met sales people from a number of ERP software companies. But once you have narrowed down the choices and picked a front runner, it is time to get inside their organization and meet the people.

It would be a good idea to visit the software company at home. Invest the time and money for two or more of your most observant, business savvy people to go there and report back on the ERP software vendor’s operation.

Your scouts are there to talk to as many people as possible, face to face, and to get answers to important questions. From personal experience, here are some of the best questions to ask.

How accurately does their website reflect the actual organization? Do they actually have the resources and infrastructure that the website describes?

How many people do they have on their training team? Are their training people always on the run and stretched thin between concurrent implementations?

Is this software system a venture into a new market or a new country for the software vendor? If so, do they have the people and process in place to modify and maintain the interface in terms of language, currency, standard nomenclature, etc?

Do they have an established network of user groups? A good example of a software company with an excellent user group network is BST Global. If your proposed software company does not have a local user group it is a great idea to offer to start one with the ERP software vendor’s support.

Can you contact and visit people in other organizations that have been dealing with this ERP software company for some time?

Do they have any steering committees or product evaluation teams in which clients can participate? When I worked on an IFS Manufacturing implementation, the IFS organization was great at including clients. It really helps to be part of the group that advises on new modules and major upgrades.

How many people do they have in their technical support group? Is there a good process in place for identifying bugs and prioritizing bug fixes? How about the process for applying patches? How frequently are they done, for what reasons and who is responsible?

How much customization would they need to do for your site and what will happen when there is a major software update? Will they have to rewrite your iteration every time?

What kind of resource-to-client ratio are they planning before, during and after the implementation?

How long is their end user wish list? Who is in charge of the list, how are the items prioritized and how many issues get addressed on a regular basis?

One more thing – if your organization has determined that traveling to meet the ERP software company at home is cost prohibitive, you may want to rethink whether or not you can have a satisfactory long distance relationship with this company.

Barbara Craven

Box 433, Enderby BC Canada V0E 1V0 (250) 838-6358

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