Every year, we conduct an independent analysis of the Tier 1 ERP vendors. The analysis, known as Clash of the Titans, is based on data we collect from organizations that have implemented SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, or Infor products.

As we release our 2024 Clash of the Titans report, we thought we should provide some selection advice that is applicable to the vendors in the report. This blog will discuss how to select a Tier 1 ERP system (if you’ve decided this is the right type of system for you).

2024 Clash of the Titans

SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and Infor each have a variety of systems that can support data-driven decision making. We surveyed customers of these four vendors to find out what their selection and implementation process was like.

How to Select a Tier 1 ERP System

1. Consider Whether the Vendor Would be a Good Implementation Partner

Your ERP consultant will not be your only implementation partner. Your ERP vendor will also be involved in helping you develop a project plan and implement your new technology.

Some key criteria to look for in an implementation partner are vision, dedication, expertise, and trustworthiness.

Vision

Let’s say you have a business requirement to print shipping labels from various logistics providers before shipments leave your warehouse.

A vendor solely focused on winning the bid might tell you their software can meet this requirement, but a vendor with vision will ask related follow-up questions: Have you considered integrating carrier services with your ERP system? Are you utilizing dock management to help schedule your logistics partners for pick-up and drop-off?

Follow-up questions like these mean the vendor has a vision for what you could achieve with your ERP software. In this example, they are envisioning an integrated system that not only prints shipping labels but directly interfaces with your logistics services to determine timelines and ensure dock availability.

Dedication

You want an implementation partner that will dedicate time and resources to your company when it encounters an issue, despite how many other customers they are supporting.

You can gauge their dedication by thinking back to the RFP process. Did you have a dedicated account manager or one whose attention seemed divided?

Expertise

The most straightforward consideration in a partnership with a vendor is expertise. Even though Tier 1 ERP vendors have a wide breadth of capabilities across industries, it’s still smart to ask how much expertise they have with your specific sub-vertical.

Trustworthiness

Was the vendor transparent in their pricing? Did they communicate clearly and follow up in a timely manner during the RFP process?

If you have difficulties with trust and communication before you’ve even signed the contract, imagine the challenges you’ll experience during implementation. You could even find yourself in need of ERP project recovery.

2. Evaluate the Vendor’s Implementation Approach and Post Go-live Support

When it comes to implementation, vendors can provide external resources to augment your internal project team. This expertise – combined with the expertise of an ERP consultant – is essential for a successful ERP implementation.

However, this requires that all parties follow a practiced and proven approach. When evaluating your vendor’s implementation approach, it’s important to ensure it’s realistic in terms of cost and timeline.

Post go-live support is another important consideration. While it may seem too early to think about post go-live support before you’ve selected software, it’s better to know about your vendor’s support plan sooner rather than later.

Your vendor should offer several support options, including a dedicated one. This is especially true if you’re considering cloud ERP, as most survey respondents reported.

erp deployment graph

3. Focus on Your Differentiating Business Requirements

Tier 1 ERP vendors have a variety of industry-standard business processes built into many of their solutions. However, every business is unique, so you might find that one of your differentiating business requirements can’t be met out of the box.

You don’t want to standardize these particular processes because they provide competitive advantage, so what now? This is when it becomes important to ask about customization and integration options.

Especially if you’re implementing SaaS ERP software, it’s important not to go overboard in this area because your software will receive regular, automatic updates that require compatibility. To prevent compatibility issues, you should ask each vendor what their customization and integration procedures are and how this could impact upgrades.

The graph below shows the customization approach of Infor customers, according to Clash of the Titans. Among the four vendors, this vendor had customers who did the least amount of customization.

erp customization graph

4. Consider the Vendor’s Other Offerings​

A unique advantage that Tier 1 ERP vendors have over other vendors is other applications in their portfolio that complement their main ERP system.

For example, many vendors have supply chain management systems that feature advanced analytics.

When selecting an ERP system from a Tier 1 vendor, consider which of your existing business applications you may replace in the future. Does the vendor offer those business applications? What is your long-term digital strategy, and can this vendor be your partner for the long haul?

The graph below shows the variety of types of software selected by SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and Infor customers, according to Clash of the Titans.

type of enterprise software graph

5. Consider Case Studies and References

Since Tier 1 ERP vendors have thousands of customers, they should have plenty of case studies and references for you to consider.

We recommend asking vendors to provide references for customers comparable to your company size and industry. Better yet, ask if there are any case studies on your competitors.

Leveraging these references and case studies, you can determine if a vendor is a good partner, what their implementation process is like, and what other applications may add value.

Implementing a Tier 1 ERP System is Challenging

Evaluating Tier 1 software solutions involves many strategic decisions. As you deliberate questions around integration, customization, and more Panorama’s ERP consulting team can help you move forward with confidence. 

Request a free consultation below to speak with our ERP experts, and don’t forget to download 2024 Clash of the Titans.

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