Wednesday, May 9, 2012

ERP as a Value Proposition versus Features and Benefits

Most businesses sell something and want to grow. 

To achieve those goals businesses are becoming increasingly reliant upon technology to do more business and to be competitive.  It is these goals that often drive the technology decisions.

When an organization looks at their current operations and realizes they need to implement, upgrade or look for a new solution they do not typically get what they need.  What most companies need is a supportive consultative approach where there challenges are identified and a suitable solution match found. 

What happens too often in their search is the onslaught of slide shows or glitzy demonstrations that do a great job of showing features and benefits.  Unfortunately, during this feeding frenzy many sales people only hope that somehow their bait will appeal to you without taking the time to ask questions to understand your challenges.

A brief executive overview is often appropriate, but only after an initial interview.  It lets the organization judge the solution for fit to their environment.  Again, this should only be done after the interview.  What most sales people are afraid of is that if they do not show you everything and get a commitment right away, you will be swayed by the next salesperson and then forget all about them.  So, in essence, they throw the pasta against the refrigerator and hope some of it sticks.

Once both parties agree that the solution is a viable candidate, then an internal team should be put together to determine departmental needs and key requirements.  Departmental interviews can then be set up so that the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution provider can prepare a proper demonstration that details how their solution will address these challenges.  It also paves the way to understanding what, if any modifications may be necessary. 

Just a quick note here.  If there are too many modifications needed, either your organization has really unique requirements or you may not be looking at the right solution.

What this process details is that there has to be a real value to the solution.  Every amount invested should translate ultimately in a reasonable Return on Investment (ROI).  What value is there in a solution that looks pretty, but takes too many “clicks” to enter an order?  Or does not address your inventory or forecasting or any of the many other issues you wanted the solution for in the first place.

What we see is that, while technology is the medium to deliver value, that the driver should be more sales, more efficient operations (cost savings), marketing and new products and services.  Technology is just the bus that gets you from point-A to point-B. 

Sound technology solutions will factor in your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and should be a big factor.  Who wants a solution that requires new overhead of operations staff and support contracts?  While many solutions may require implementing new technologies, it should not create unreasonable overhead.

The whole discovery process is an opportunity for an organization to do a proper discovery and document their processes.  This discovery lays the foundation for automation, one of the key and desirable benefits of an ERP solution.  The automation process can improve operations else ware in the organization expediting the return on investment.  This thought should always be present. 

The more operations are automated, the bigger the return. 

The how-to goes beyond the scope of this particular article and is why we should be talking. 

I am looking for new people to meet and help.   I believe that meeting me in person will be a productive use of our time.  Contact me today.  Dolvin Consulting works with people and organizations (in that order) to help them make wise investments in technology that deliver business value.

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