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Abstract Image of Business People's Silhouettes in a MeetingEvery year in college football the CFP committee’s main job is to unanimously select the four best teams to compete in the playoffs and bowl games. The committee is comprised of 13 members with backgrounds as diverse as anything from athletic directors to journalists. This committee then identifies small groups of teams to then evaluate them against one another in a very detailed manner which will ultimately determine their rankings.

Just like the CFP committee, there is an executive committee within an organization that is responsible for leading and ultimately selecting a new ERP system for their organization.  This executive committee is made up of CEO’s, CFO’s and corresponding department directors responsible for subjectively choosing an ERP system that best meets their organization’s needs. Here are three ways that ERP selection is just like college football playoff selection:

  1. Elimination. The idea behind the CFP Committee is to eliminate bias and politics when selecting the four best teams. CFP committee members have alma-maters with both political and personal ties to their schools. Coaches, players, media members and university boosters are all campaigning for their school to make it into the playoffs.  Think about Baylor.  They have the head-to-head advantage over their Big 12 Conference foe Texas Christian University (TCU). While both teams have the same record, TCU is ranked above Baylor according to the CFP committee rankings.  In turn, Baylor hired a Public Relations firm and started their publicity campaign to push for their school to be considered at the same level as schools such as TCU.

Similarly, executive committee members may have had a previous experience with a particular software or vendor that may have skewed their opinion. A marketing director may want certain features of a specific software that would be the best fit for his/her marketing department, but not the best fit for the overall organization. These types of politics and biases are common throughout the ERP selection process.

  1. Tradition. In both ERP and college football, there are traditional powers that have dominated their respective landscapes.

As an alumni of the University of Alabama, I can quantify that the Crimson Tide ARE the dominant program throughout the history of college football (hey, 15 national championships). There would be others that argue for Oklahoma, Texas, Southern California, Ohio State or Michigan (but again, 15 National Championships, Roll Tide).  The point being, there are contrasting themes when selecting an ERP system and historical performance plays a role.  SAP and Oracle have owned the ERP software market for the past thirty years. While Microsoft’s ERP campaign has just been picking up over the last fifteen years, their brand has the same recognition.  Microsoft is the “Oregon” of ERP.  It’s backed by big money, a brand name and a hunger for victories in the ERP industry.  With supporting alumni Phil Knight (the founder of Nike), the Oregon football program was granted unlimited resources and it has shown on the field over the past decade with several Pac 12 Championships, Rose Bowl appearances and one unfortunate loss in the National Championship to some other school from Alabama.

Then you have niche ERP systems that may focus on a specific functional area (manufacturing, accounting, etc.). While their size may not be comparable, they are very good at what they do.  These are the modern day Baylor’s and Boise State’s of college football.  While these schools may not have the financial or traditional backing of powerhouses, every few years they are poised to beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.

While it is easy to get caught up in the hype, the preseason rankings and the tradition of Alabama football, ERP selections are not about tradition or unlimited financial resources. Instead they are about choosing a software system that is going to give your organization the greatest opportunity to grow and be successful based on your specific process requirements.

  1. Criteria. There is a selection criterion that exists when choosing the CFP schools and ERP systems. The CFP committee bases their selection upon several criteria including strength of schedule, common opponents and margin of victory. There is no strict formula that occurs, it is simply left up to committee members to decide and create a unanimous decision.

An executive committee for ERP selection has similar criteria they use when making a decision.  This includes industry references, the RFI/RFP analysis, demonstrations by the vendors, total cost of ownership analysis and the different levels of customization or configuration an organization will need to buy in order to meet their business process needs.  Again, there is no magic formula or one-size-fits-all approach.  Each organization is unique in its own way.

ERP selection should place more emphasis on areas of their selection that matter most (i.e. an accounting firm shouldn’t buy manufacturing-specific software simply because it is cheaper and easier to use).  ERP selection can be a burden for many organizations–especially while trying to run their business.  This provides great value in firms such as Panorama Consulting Solutions to manage these aspects of the selection process and simply provide your organization with the most prudent information in order to make the most informed decision.  Next, Panorama Consulting Services for the College Football Selection Committee…Roll Tide!

Written by Dustin Enlow, Associate Business Analyst for Panorama Consulting Solutions.

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