ERP Vendor Selection Criteria: The 12 Best Questions to Ask
If you’re in the process of researching ERP vendors, keep in mind that the ERP solution you select will serve as the backbone of your business for the next 5-10 years. The more successful you are in selecting and implementing the right ERP for your organization, the greater your Return on Investment.
We’d like to help you make the best ERP vendor selection possible for your organization. You may want to begin by using the ERP Systems Analysis Tool that’s put out by 180 Systems. Once you’ve used this tool to find the top 10 solutions with capabilities and pricing you need, you’ll be ready to reach out to the relevant ERP vendors. Next, below is a list of 12 questions that our team of ERP vendor selection consultants has found really helps to further narrow down the choices. With these questions in hand, you will be better equipped to choose the ERP vendor who most closely aligns with your business requirements.
Top 12 Questions for Your ERP Vendor Selection Process
1. What is your experience in working with organizations similar to mine?
You will be better served by an ERP vendor who has relevant experience with challenges and opportunities of organizations just like yours in your industry. Be sure to ask follow-up questions to understand how their products and services helped to solve issues that are similar to those you are currently facing.
2. What is the history of the ERP product?
Unlike Trek Global’s solutions, which our team of software architects and developers built from the ground-up as complete and robust systems, many enterprise software products started out as smaller applications that were later acquired and integrated with other software. A product that has been cobbled together may have inherent weaknesses, especially as it relates to how data flows between the different integrated solutions. By asking about the history of the product, you will be better able to explore whether there could be issues to deal with later on.
3. Are you an ERP reseller or does your team include the original software architects?
Product resellers have less control over the development of the solution. Knowing who architected the software will help you determine how well your future requests for new functionality will be heard. As part of your ERP vendor selection process, be sure to consider the relationship of the consulting team to the product they are offering.
4. How often are releases or upgrades performed?
Upgrades and releases need to happen often enough to regularly bring new desired functionality into the solution.
5. How is the ERP pricing structured?
Are you looking to host your ERP on-premise or in the cloud? Cloud ERP offers much greater affordability in terms of lower entry cost, and a cloud solution offered in a Software as a Service (SaaS) model is even more affordable to midsize and smaller businesses that have limited internal IT staffing to manage their ERP. (See our related article, Cloud-hosted ERP vs. SaaS: Which Choice is Right for You?) Once you decide on the hosting option you prefer, make sure you obtain all the ERP pricing, from hardware and software purchases to user licensing and maintenance fees, implementation services and other ongoing support costs.
6. Who will be helping us with ERP implementation and what is their experience in working with organizations like ours?
Again, the more familiar the ERP vendor is with your industry’s needs, the better equipped they will be to understand your business objectives and correctly configure your system. You can learn more about what should be included in a proper implementation service by reviewing the components of Trek Global’s Guided Implementation Services.
7. What is involved in customizing the software?
Most businesses need some level of customization (code changes) to better tailor the software to the unique aspects of their business. By doing so, you are able to implement your “secret sauce,” which is to say the competitive advantage of your business. (Read our article: How to Achieve Greater ROI from ERP Customization). Customizing ERP can be costly, especially depending on the solution you select. Find out the costs and ramifications of customization for each solution during your ERP vendor selection process. If you find that your business requires a highly customized solution, we encourage you to consider the open source ERP solution, iDempiere.
8. How long does an ERP implementation usually take for an organization like mine?
While many ERP vendors give implementation timelines of 9-12 months or more, we feel this is a very poor ERP industry standard. Trek Global regularly performs implementations for midsize organizations within a 4-5 month timespan. During your ERP vendor selection process, be sure to question ERP vendors that have lengthy timelines as to why it takes them so long.
9. What training do you provide to the implementation team and users?
Let’s face it: in the end, the success of your project is dependent on user adoption. If your users are not well-trained, they will develop workarounds to using the software. This means that your company will continue to use email, paper forms and manual processes rather than following workflows that are established in your ERP. This in turn impacts your operational performance and overall return on investment. Knowing the details of the ERP vendor training offerings and associated costs will help you to determine how far your training budget will go.
10. Can I see examples of your user documentation?
This is the documentation that your team will rely on after go-live to get their work done. Is it easy to understand? Where is the documentation located? Trek Global has inserted its documentation within the ERP itself. Users can view the documentation relevant to the screen they are on. These user instructions and tool tips are located in a pane that can be viewed on every screen or minimized as the user needs. We have also provided a setup wizard within the ERP that jumps you directly to the screens that need to be configured. We would be glad to show you our documentation during a Trek Cloud ERP demo.
11. What are the options for ERP support after go-live?
At a minimum, we highly recommend organizations buy a monthly support package for at least the first few months after go-live. Your team will appreciate having access to your ERP vendor to provide refreshers and to address questions that crop up as you begin working in your new system.
12. Where is your support team located, and what is their typical response time?
Once your ERP has been implemented, you will be relying on the future help of the support team. Understanding their response time for both critical and non-urgent issues is important to your success. During your ERP vendor selection process, you might also see if you can talk to someone who is on the support team.
ERP is very highly complex software that will impact nearly every aspect of your business, so your ERP vendor selection decision is an important one. If you find that you need assistance with your ERP vendor selection process, or any other part of your implementation, we would be glad to guide you through the steps involved.
Affordable ERP Consulting Services
Trek Global provides affordable and comprehensive support to organizations that need ERP. From planning and selection to implementation, development, go-live and training, our experienced team is here to serve you. Learn more about our ERP services, or contact us today to discuss your needs.