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Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher, said in “The Art of War”: “The rules of the military are five: measurement, assessment, calculation, comparison, and victory. The ground gives rise to measurements, measurements give rise to assessments, assessments give rise to calculations, calculations give rise to comparisons, comparisons give rise to victories.”

The challenges and complexities of an ERP project can undoubtedly become a modern comparison to “war.” As ERP implementation has an influence on business tactics and managerial strategies, “The Art of War” can also be applied to many aspects of an ERP software project. The five rules of the military also make a lot of sense as rules for ERP selection.

Five Rules for ERP Selection: Military Style

  1. Measurement: Measure your business requirements and budgetary needs, and based on your industry-specific needs, you are likely have long-list ERP vendors for consideration.
  2. Assessment: Identify the key ERP requirements an ERP package must have in order to make the short-list. Conduct a detailed assessment and analysis by prioritizing all of your business requirements, but do not focus on the strengths of each package highlighted by the ERP vendors.
  3. Calculation: Build a business case for the ERP project. Quantify potential cost reductions and benefits realization according to the products of each short-listed ERP vendor.
  4. Comparison: Take into consideration the functional and technical assessments, as well as the vendor’s demonstrations, and be sure to also involve key users and ask them for their opinions in comparing each of the ERP vendors.
  5. Victory: With all the above done, victory is on its way, but you are not there yet. Gather the input you’ve received from the various assessments and prioritize each ERP vendor’s strengths and weaknesses. By doing this, you will make the right decision in choosing the best fit ERP software!

The above five steps are among the key elements involved in an ERP selection project. The software select process may seem overwhelming and complicated when in practice. Although in ancient China there were not many outside helpers available for winning battles; in the modern world, it is worthwhile to enlist the helps of an independent ERP consulting firm to guide you through the process and to utilize the experience and expertise.

Blog entry written by Haoyan Sun, Research Analyst at Panorama Consulting Group.

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