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If you are anything like me, this time of year tends to make me introspective. You look back at your life wondering how and when it went so wrong. Did you marry the wrong person? Did you choose the wrong college? And for gosh sakes, did you pick the wrong ERP system?

It seemed so right in the beginning. The slick sales job, great customer service, cheerful attitude when you voiced your doubts. Then WHAM! You go live with a poorly considered ERP solution and your organization unravels like the ugly Christmas sweater that your grandma gives you every single year.

Choosing the right software, vendor and installation team is just as important to the success of your organization as meeting payroll and making sales. The software package your company chooses is just like a marriage. You have to live with it every day and divorcing yourself from it is costly, time consuming and has the possibility of being disastrous to your brand. The ERP software your company chooses will play a big factor in the efficiency of your staff. It will have a direct impact on your ability to provide your customers with up-to-the-minute information and services. Another perennial mistake is NOT investing in change management and business process improvements. If your organization chooses poorly or fails to do the difficult yet necessary foundational work, then welcome to Divorceville. Population you (and me).

It is vital to take the time and diligence to do a thorough review of the benefits and drawbacks of any ERP software you are considering. If you do not have time to properly carry out this process, there are third-party companies such as Panorama that can help you make an informed decision. In fact, an outsider is often required to navigate the charged political atmosphere of an ERP software selection and implementation.

It is a sad fact that more than one third of ERP implementations will fail. Although there is a high divorce rate, couples are still getting married and ERP software is still a popular and sensible way for organizations to improve their operations, efficiencies and bottom lines. Consider Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s marriage: when an ERP software goes as planned, your organization becomes a winning team and life is a lot sweeter. A correct ERP choice can save money due to increased productivity, better inventory and improved customer tracking. Sales, manufacturing, customer relationship management, supply chains and accounting can all thrive with a one stop solution like an ERP. After all, having the ability to track everything with centralized software and a common database is certainly a match made in heaven.

Here is how to hedge your bets better than going to

  1. Plan ahead for potential bumps in the road. Have the discipline to sit down with a cross-functional team to brainstorm what could potentially go wrong. All ERP software solutions have both an upside and downside that may interfere with your implementation. Hewlett Packard dedicated three-weeks to plan out any issues that their ERP implementation could face. Have your team focus their attention on details and urge them to ask the hard questions. Ask how it will impact your internal customers (employees), external customers and business partners.
  1. Don’t DIY. Many organizations believe that they can save costs by dealing directly with a software vendor. Unfortunately, no matter how good a software solution appears to be, the vendor will be hesitant to point out shortcomings in their software that might result in major issues. Rather than totally relying on the biased opinion of a specific software developer, it is best to involve a software consulting company. Panorama’s sole focus is to help you find the best fit for your business in an unbiased and independent manner. A qualified and competent ERP consulting firm will help an organization avoid costly and erroneous investments.
  1. Do your homework. It is also important to find a consulting firm that has insight into your industry. Check their references and call their former clients. They should have the necessary industry experience to know which contract terms to insist upon and which ones to avoid. Although no third-party company can guarantee you the best rate or a glitch-free roll out, they can help you avoid the potentially serious issues that companies face when they decide to implement a new software package.
  1. Budget higher. Budget is always important, but no ERP software is perfect. Expect to balance out functionality with how much your company can afford to spend. Don’t fall into the trap of expecting to spend just what the software costs. A good rule of the thumb is to set aside three to five times the software price for total cost of the implementation.
  1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of an ERP package at a low price. There is usually a good reason why it is well below its competitor’s price. On the other hand, purchasing a very expensive ERP solution may make you spend more than you need to. My mentor always said, “Perfect is the enemy of good enough.” Work with your team, assess each software solution and be mindful of what is mandatory versus what is a “nice to have.”

Take it from me. Divorce is not pretty, inexpensive or for the faint of heart. Avoid that messy ERP divorce and hire a match maker that can ease you into an independent, thoughtful and cost effective solution. Panorama Consulting Solutions can walk with you through the deep water and help you find that ERP partner that “completes you.” Not only can Panorama be a matchmaker, but we can help your business fine tune your business processes, choose the best ERP system and guide you with all phases of implementation. Our PERFECT Fit™ Methodology enables us to reveal your company potential and generate profits, as well as restore your faith in love.

Learn more by registering for our on demand webinar, How to Define the Best IT and ERP Strategy Roadmap for Your Organization.

Written by Rich Farrell, Manager of Client Services at Panorama Consulting Solutions.