Wednesday, July 11, 2012

ERP Comparison Guides

Just a quick thought here about Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) resource guides.  I receive updates from my subscriptions online about various comparison guides.  Below is the link to a recent one.

I find these guides can sometimes be helpful, but not in the traditional way. 

The problem with many guides is not the guide, it is just that they do not address your specific solution or candidate. 

No guide can list every solution, so what exactly are the criteria for inclusion?  Do these solution providers pay a fee, are they from bigger companies?  Are the solutions for your industry?  Distribution, Manufacturing, Retail management, Finance, etc?  ERP solutions exist for most organizations now, so it is important to know what you do, how you do it, and what are the key driving factors in your business.

Problem two:  Do they compare the criteria that matter most to you? 

It is nice to know what equipment the solution runs on, but is that as important as knowing if the software fits your company’s culture?  Contact information is nice, a convenience, but many of us are able to Google the company name.  Pricing information is really important, but most systems are modular and you select the modules you need today and add on as you gain experience and grow.  Why pay for something you are not going to be able to use?  A range is nice so that you can tell if you are at least in the ballpark. 

The list goes on and on. 

What the guides are really good at is getting you to start thinking about questions to ask.  What does our company need in order to operate more efficiently, reduce costs, and become more profitable?  Our staff is already working harder and not producing as much.  We have errors in multiple departments that seem to cascade.  How will this solution address those needs?

Does your organization even know what they do not know? 

You may know that inventory is not accurate.   You may know that you have a lot of returns.  You may know that it takes too long to pick, pack and ship an order. … Does your company have its processes mapped and documented?  Do you know what you would like to accomplish?  Is it worth risking disrupting everything you are doing and implement a system that does not work for your business?

Until you know what you are looking for, guides can actually misdirect you away from what matters most.  The guides are great if they compare the three to five candidates that you have selected to review.  Like a product search on a consumer electronics site.  Find the three televisions that fit your room and compare the features and functions to your needs and wants.  That makes sense.

First step is to find someone that you trust to help you navigate the constant flux in technology.  Then look inside, deep inside.  Solutions are journeys and are taken one step at a time.  Identify the top five issues that are having the biggest impact on your bottom line.  Search for solutions that address those challenges and then you have a starting point for the rest of the evaluation and selection process.

At Dolvin Consulting we are here to help.  Think of us as doctors.  We are here to ask questions, diagnose the pain points in your business operations related to technology, and help you find solutions that solve the problems.  Not just write you a script- here buy this software and call me in two weeks, if the pain does not go away.  Contact us today.  It really is easy to do and this part will not hurt. 

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