Monday, December 30, 2013

ERP Leaders

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."   John Quincy Adams (6th U.S. President).


Can Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions themselves be leaders?  Is it even possible for software to be a leader or are the companies that provide the solution leaders? 


Should ERP solution providers be leaders?  Do they need to be or do they just need to provide workable solutions?


People generally want to be on a winning team.  But, after you peel away the layers, if the solution works, then does it matter if you are working with number one or two or some other ranking? 


The solution has to be a solution.


Call it what you want, rate it however you like, but the bottom line is: it has to work.  The solution needs to provide a platform to generate a positive Return on Investment (ROI).  Without that you would need to have a specialized need or operation to choose a solution that did not provide a basis to generate a good return.


What does a “Leader” mean to you, the purchaser?


One thing a leader in the software industry offers are direct relationships with hardware providers to ensure their applications take full advantage of available resources, that their software handles upgrades and operating systems updates seamlessly without interruption to business operations. 


Another leader quality is a commitment to development, research and support.  Taking feedback from their user base to build better solutions that fulfill their needs (customer service).   Research and development into new technologies to keep current with evolving supply chain demands.


What are you paying for?


With ERP solutions you typically pay in initial license fee and then an annual maintenance fee.  I had a conversation with a business owner a little while back about these fees.  He thought they did not make sense since the software had already been written.  He understood the hardware costs, but not the software fees.  Conversion and implementation estimates were another discussion.  We discussed that the fees are not really to pay for the software that has already been developed; it is to support the organization that supports your business operations.  It pays for continued improvements, bug fixes, and error/message handling. 


Granted the proposed software did have some significant costs associated with its development and the initial fee offsets those costs to the developer.  The annual fee is reasonable when you consider that you need the efforts of a leading developer to keep you current with your industry. 


You need a leader in the industry in order to provide training and support. 


There are plenty of solutions available and you need to select a solution provider that will be able to help you train, prepare, convert and support you as you transition and grow.  If the supplier it too small, then what happens if the economy turns, or they get really busy or they get hit by a bus?  If the organization is too large, then you can end up being just a number and lose any personal contact.  Most people like to be known to their supplier and have a relationship. 


Technology is continuing to develop at a faster and faster pace.  You need a partner that understands your business and is committed to continue growth efforts to both your business and theirs.  You have a mutually vested interest in both succeeding.


What do you think of leaders in ERP solutions?  How important is it to your business?  Do you just prefer a low cost solution and are not concerned about upgrades and support?  How do you currently utilize the support services provided by your supplier?  What is important to you?  What does your business need to grow?  What support services are a necessity and what is a luxury?


At Dolvin Consulting, we would like to know what you think.  Please share your ideas with us.  Contact us, if you need help.


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