Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Questions and your Trusted Advisor

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Questions and your Trusted Advisor.

You might be old enough to remember the days before cable television when there were just a handful of networks and a pretty limited number of broadcast entertainment choices.  You might even remember the test patterns found early in the morning.  Since there was a monopoly on the networks, "they" decided what was of value to you and when you could see it.  Since there were no alternatives, we watched.  Only other alternative was to pick up a book or talk to someone.

There was a time when there were only a handful of ERP solutions available.  Many were dependent on the available hardware.  Small and Mid sized businesses had even fewer choices given the platforms available to them (i.e. affordable).  Over time hardware options grew and so did the applications.  The demand for quality ERP solutions probably helped drive the development of new technologies.

So today with so many choices out there, how do you narrow the field?  There are still plenty of suppliers that like to try and dazzle you with shiny brochures and canned demonstrations.  If there are different sales and delivery people, some driven by commission and others by implementation, there can be deployment issues.

First and foremost, you need a trusted advisor.  Someone that will ask you questions so that both of you will better understand the real challenges to be resolved.  You know, the ones that keep you up at night.  The ones that if you do not get fixed, you are out of a job and/or your company folds.  Yeah, that type of issue, not just the superficial ones. 

Everyone would like to streamline their operations, reduce cost, and become more profitable.  There are a lot of companies dedicated to do just that.  It is the "How" that is important.  There must be clear goals for the solution.  Clear goals, clear solutions. 

Your current supplier may have improved solutions, but they might not address your real challenges or they might not fit your budget.  Changing your current supplier can be a difficult choice.  No one really wants to change Lawyers, Accountants, Therapist or ERP supplier.  Who wants to go through that emotional pain of looking at what is not working?

If you change nothing or keep doing what you have always done, then is it reasonable to expect different results?

Maybe your organization has multiple solutions from multiple ERP suppliers.  Maybe you feel that you are paying too much for maintenance.  Most people agree that to increase efficiencies across an organization you need an integrated solution.  Not just one that integrates separate systems.  How well does the solution match your business?  Will there be a lot of modifications or does the solution match your business processes?  How easy is it to make changes, if they really are necessary?  Who is available to make those changes?  Do you have the option to access the ERP supplier directly?  Are there other third parties that can provide support? 

As you already know there are a lot of questions that must be looked at in regards to who will provide your technology services.  What about your business?  Do the people working with you actually "Listen" to you?  Do they talk at you or talk with you?

Do you have the resources to implement a new solution?  Perhaps one that relies on a different technology base?  How versatile is your technology department?  Do you have one or is your ERP supplier your extended department.  Perhaps a hosted or Cloud based solution will meet your needs better.

A good solution fixes today's problem.  A great solution solves your business challenges.  A great solution looks at your Return on Investment (ROI) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). 

With the right resources the transition can be made better, but there will still be uncomfortable feelings.  Kind of like one of those procedures your doctor says are necessary when you get to a certain age.  You know you will be uncomfortable for a while, but better in the end.

You will know you made the right decision, when after six months after implementation, you look back and say to yourself "I cannot believe we did not do this earlier".

In this article we talked a bit about what type of conversations and the questions you should be discussing with your current or future ERP supplier.  Specific questions will depend on your business and your challenges.  We at Dolvin Consulting would like to help you find your questions.

Click here for Dolvin's contact information.  We would love to ask you some questions and learn more about what keeps you awake at night.  You might be surprised that you are not alone.

No comments:

Post a Comment