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Building an ERP vendor shortlist is not an easy process. If you feel like you have too much choice, you are not being selective enough. If you are short on options, you have been dismissing vendors for insubstantial reasons. You will make mistakes but you can learn from these and the mistakes of others to develop a well-rounded ERP vendor shortlist.
You Won’t Completely Vet the Vendors
Your ERP is a big investment in money and your time. It will hold your entire enterprise in its database. Check their references in detail. Look into their financial structure and be comfortable; you’re going to be partnered up for a long time. Know the people there too. Where did they work? What else have they done? What technical backgrounds do they have? Every company on your ERP vendor shortlist needs to be completely vetted.
Be sure you can stay at arm’s length. No matter how well you like them. They might be your club buddies. It doesn’t matter. This is business and there is money at stake. You need to trust them and you need to watch them carefully too. They will have access to your customers and your products and many secrets. You just can’t be too careful.
You Will Consider Too Many Vendors
Most ERP vendors are good at what they do. Most will do a good job for you. If you try to evaluate dozens or more vendors, you and your people will burn out before your ERP implementation even begins. Select three or four at most eliminating the rest quickly. Spend the time you have on those few that have made it to your ERP vendor shortlist. If you find you eliminated all but one, consider adding one more. Your evaluation should be complete but it will not be perfect. Allow yourself to make a small mistake. You can look forever and never find perfection. You have to select a vendor and an ERP to get the value you need.
You Will Relinquish Control of Your Search
Watch out for vendors who want to do it all for you. Sure, you want their help. They all will suggest a wonderful ERP ROI from the project. Run your own numbers. It is your investment. Some will offer to manage the project and do all the work. That will cost a lot more money than you doing some work yourself. The later cost will be when you find you never learned how to manage the ERP when you want to change something next year.
Your Requirements Will Become Lost in Translation
Have all the vendors really heard your needs? You spent a lot of time and effort documenting your requirements and the benefits you expect from your ERP. That tool will allow you to improve and meet needs you have and your customers expect from you. Most of us are listening challenged. Your vendors probably are too. Ask them to feed back what they think they heard.
These mistakes are common when building an ERP vendor shortlist. They will not lead to ERP failure if made, but will certainly contribute to a less successful project – given the finances and time invested, this is something you can ill afford.
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