Selecting ERP software is usually a lengthy and time consuming process that too often focuses on the software functionality. Flashy demonstrations and well tuned sales pitches tend to distract selection teams from the reality of implementing the dazzling array of features and functionality that are paraded in front of them. Recently, I had the honor of being asked to do a presentation on ERP implementation at the Vendor Shootout™ for ERP. While I have sixteen years of experience in implementing Oracle’s JD Edwards ERP software, the Vendor Shootout™ for ERP gave me a unique opportunity to talk to representatives from other companies that represent and implement ERP products from vendors including SAP, Microsoft, Epicor, Infor, Abas, IQMS and Plex. While we all represented different products from different vendors, it was amazing how similar the comments about implementations were across vendors and how they supported the idea that a sound selection process leads to a more successful implementation. These comments are distilled into my list of Top Ten ERP Implementation Myths, which I will post over the next few weeks.
ERP Implementation Myth Number 1: One size fits all
You will spend a lot of time reviewing features and functionality as you evaluate your software options. How much time are you planning to spend reviewing your implementation options? Most products can be implemented in multiple ways. You may choose to implement by building a team of internal experts that lead the implementation, have a firm document your requirements and prototype your solution for you, or use a vendor’s pre-configured template of ‘best practices’. All of these methodologies are valid implementation strategies touted by vendors. An implementation methodology may be designed to leverage a product’s strength of flexibility or mask it’s weaknesses of complexity, but it will undoubtedly be chosen by your vendor–like anything else in the software sales cycle–to be competitive in the sales cycle.
A vendor’s positioned methodology may be right for the sales cycle but not necessarily the right methodology for your implementation. You need to pick the right methodology based on your goals, budget, time constraints and resources. A template based implementation may be lower cost up front but not flexible enough to handle your long term requirements, requiring expensive and disruptive re-implementation after you go live. A tailored implementation might give you exactly what you need but take too long and strain your internal resources beyond your limits. Most implementation partners can use more than one implementation methodology. Work with your vendors; ask them to describe and price out the different methodologies they use. Talk to references that have implemented using those methodologies and evaluate how well it fits your situation. The bottom line is that you need to design a project that works for your situation and evaluate the implementation methodology alongside the features and functionality to pick the right total solution.
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Richard Garraputa, VP Sales and Marketing, brij Image and Information