The last blog focused on the top 5 critical elements that can only be determined by asking customers of the ERP system. The first element, Software Quality, was covered in depth in my prior post. The remaining four elements are discussed below.
1. Quality of the Vendor’s Customer Support Organization
Simple question; how much value-add can the ERP system deliver if you don’t know how to use it correctly?
In short, reference checking is the only source of truth in the ERP selection process for these other key elements that are often overlooked in ERP selection process. Not performing solid due diligence on these items will greatly increase the risk of a bad decision.
The quality of the vendor’s customer support organization will have a major impact on your company’s ability to obtain maximum value from the ERP system. In addition, a strong training culture and offering is a key component of a vendor’s overall product solution.
Access to knowledgeable customer support representatives is a significant benefit that can reduce the likelihood of critical delays due to user error. Imagine you’re trying to close the monthly financial records and the system is reporting huge manufacturing variances. Being able to call the support hotline and talk to an experienced professional who can calmly and logically walk through the most likely case scenarios, as well as more challenging situations, with you to resolve the issue is an insurance policy that holds tremendous value.
The key answers that you need to determine are:
- Can I easily get direct access to the customer support organization or am I likely to be stuck in a monolithic bureaucracy?
- How knowledgeable are the customer support front line employees?
- What is the response time for help or issue resolution?
- How do the support representatives treat their customers?
- Will they “nickel and dime” us for every time we contact them?
- Will we be dealing with a reseller or will we have direct access to the ERP vendor?
3. Time, Pain and Cost of Implementation and Data Migration
Every ERP sales person will tell you their implementations will be done on time, with little pain and the professional service fees will be on-budget. Do you simply take them at their word or would you feel more secure if you asked some recently completed implementations about their experience?
The probability of a successful ERP system implementation is directly proportional to the vendor’s success rate on other implementations as well as the planning done before the implementation has even begun. Given this, does the vendor offer a structured implementation plan – will you know what, when and who will be responsible to execute each step of the implementation before you begin?
Some questions that might prove eye-opening:
- Is there a written implementation and training plan with responsibilities, milestones and dates?
- Did the implementation take longer than expected? If “yes,” what was the main cause?
- Were the consulting/professional service fees quoted enough to get the company “up and running” or were there significant overruns?
- Was the quality of the training satisfactory?
- How painful was the data migration?
- Was the implementation team on-site or readily available during the first month-end close to ensure everything was going smoothly?