Truth or Consequences – Top 5 Questions you Need to Answer before You Embark on the Road to ERP Software Selection

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Remember Truth or Consequences? It was an immensely popular radio show that ran from 1940-1957 and TV show that ran from 1950-1988. Briefly, if a contestant couldn’t answer the question posed by the show’s host, they had to accept the consequences (which usually meant participating in some silly stunt.

My version doesn’t involve silly stunts. But it does involve consequences. Allow me to explain.

If your company is embarking on the road to selecting a new ERP software system, the first thing you have to do is get your own house in order. So the consequence of not being able to answer the following questions before you start your search is that you’d be wasting everyone’s time…both the companies that you’re “interviewing” and most importantly, your time.

1)      Do you have a compelling reason to purchase a new software system? If the truth is that if you don’t, the consequence is that you shouldn’t bother.

2)      Do you have a budget for a new software system? If the truth is that you don’t, the consequence is that you should wait until you have a budget because there would be no point, for example, in looking at Oracle if you have a QuickBooks budget.

3)      Do you have company-wide buy in for this project? The truth is that if IT thinks it would be a good idea to buy new software and the CEO doesn’t agree, the consequence is that you may end up against a brick wall. And conversely, if the President wants to implement a new ERP system and the future users of that system are dead set against change, the brick wall may be even bigger. Get everyone on board before you begin what is likely to be a long selection and implementation process.

4)      Are your business processes documented? The truth is that this is a critical step. Maybe a little less obvious than the first 3 questions. Documenting your business processes before you start meeting with potential vendors is a great way to save time and money during the selection AND the implementation process. It’s also a great way to take stock of the way you’re doing things now that you may want to change. This is not to say that skilled software resellers can’t do this with you. They can. But it’s better to have these ducks in a row ahead of time, because the consequence is that you’ll save time and money.

5)      Have you done your homework and created a short list? The truth is that whether you realize now or not, you do NOT want to evaluate 12 different options. The consequence of that would be a huge waste of time. Why? Because in today’s world, you can find so much information online that it’s actually easy to eliminate candidates pretty quickly and boil your choices down to a short list of no more than 4 or maybe 5.

Here are a couple of examples. If you’re a nonprofit organization and you’re going to require fund accounting, Timberline doesn’t need to be on your list because basically, they implement software for construction companies. And conversely, if you’re a construction company, don’t bother looking at Blackbaud because they specialize in nonprofits. Of course, these are extreme examples and you’re going to be looking for more of the nuances that various software products will or won’t provide. Do you need multi-currency or multi-lingual functionality? How many layers of BOM do you need the software to handle? Do you need lot and serial number tracking? If you’re in an industry that’s regulated, you’ll need a system that has the ability to comply with FDA or HIPAA or what have you? Do you want a new system that can integrate with some of your legacy applications that you’re not willing to give up?

OK. So maybe I’ve de facto exceeded my 5-question quota! But I hope I’ve given you some direction and useful information from the point of view of a software reseller who has been around the block a few thousand times. Truth is, we’ve seen all of the mistakes that companies can make when they embark on a software selection trajectory! We’ve suffered the consequences, and so have they!

See also my post called What’s Better? A New ERP System or a Band-Aid on Your Old One? Are you ready to move up to Microsoft? Browse our Web site @ www.AlticoAdvisors.com, contact Altico Advisors the old school way at 508-485-5588, or reach out to us online at https://www.alticoadvisors.com/Contact.aspx.

By Marcia Nita Doron, Altico Advisorsby, Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM Partner serving New Hampshire (NH) and beyond.

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