How to Select an ERP System and Not Get Badly Stung in the Process!

A couple of years ago, out of sheer frustration at the number of prospect companies who had chosen to proceed on a clearly misguided software acquisition path (in my humble opinion and clearly not at all sour grapes!), I put together a ‘Guide for Business Advisers’.

 

I hoped that this guide would help many avoid the worst or most obvious mistakes. It has subsequently been utilised not simply as a guide for those terming themselves business advisers such as IT consultants, the local enterprise company’s ERP expert or a business’s accountants; but also as a useful set of hints for the poor sod in the prospect company who has been handed the poisoned chalice of finding the next ERP system. We’ve met everyone from the CEO or CFO down to the new graduate given this as his or her work project!

 

Things that had inspired me to write the guide included finding a prospective client who had committed to an unbreakable 3 year support contract with a supplier on the basis of a single presentation. It cost a five figure sum to release them from the contract but was worth it. More commonly, we find a prospective  client fails to carry out some basic due diligence and ends up purchasing from a company which looks great on the web and turns out to be no more than ‘one man and a dog up a close’ (as we say in Scotland).

 

Over the next few blogs, I plan to summarise the contents so that readers may have an insight into a process which I have observed in my 30 years operating on both sides of the fence – as IT consultant advising clients when I was in the accountancy profession as a ‘Computer Audit Manager’ and more recently trying to be as objective as possible while selling ERP systems on behalf of IT companies.

 

In the next blog, we’ll start with the ‘Selection Process’ and subsequent blogs will consider ‘Ballpark Costs’, ‘Implementation’, ‘Things You (or your Client’) Should Check Out’ and ‘New Technologies Worth Considering’.

 

As the guide was originally published in February 2011, this affords me a great opportunity to update the Guide and, who knows, have a runaway eBook success on Amazon!

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Turnkey as "The Good Guys" – why being one makes long term sense!

Having been involved with the supply of business software for some 30 years, I reckon I have a lot of experience to share. But how to share it with the people who need it most?

Well, firstly, who are the people who need it most? In my experience, it’s the poor soul who finds himself talking to an aggressive software supplier, and as the market has become tougher, there are a lot more of them out there.

How is aggressive defined? Simple, he or she is a salesperson who is committed to one simple thing – commission. This manifests itself in a number of ways but the cancer this engenders is a lack of respect for the prospective customer’s actual needs. 

Typical actions will be:

– Overselling by quoting for higher level modules than the customer requires;
– Overselling by suggesting higher cost user licences when low-cost ‘light’ user licenses are available;
– Underselling (yes, I did say ‘underselling’) by casually omitting to mention that certain modules are required or that additional licences or infrastructure will be needed to run some of the functions proposed (you’ll be billed for these later, trust me); or
– Locking a customer in to a protracted contract e.g. 3 years.

In my view, the last one is the worst offence since a customer doesn’t truly understand how good, bad or indifferent the supplier will be in delivering or supporting the system as presented by the salesperson. The first year of delivery is crucial but, even if it’s been a complete disaster and all of the ‘extra’ costs necessary to deliver the solution are then revealed, the customer has two more years of this pain to endure before he can escape to a more professional partner.

So, what advice can I give? I spent a lot of time thinking about this over the festive period, and have put together a publication which is of benefit to both the prospective system purchaser and his or her business adviser. The ‘Guide to Business Advisers’ is free of charge and available by sending me an email with your name and address. Or follow the link here to request a copy:

http://www.turnkey-bs.com/c_Contact.aspx

And why does doing it right and being the good guy make long term sense? Well, at Turnkey we’ve carefully analysed our business successes during 2010 and around 75% of our revenues from new business sales can be attributed to reference sales. Simply put, people choose us on the back of recommendation from our customer base. So, the more help we can give them to find us, the better!