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In 2009, Panorama published our Tips for Managing ERP Software Vendors During the Software Selection Process white paper (it’s the fourth from the top if you click through that link). Reading through it recently, I was a bit surprised at both how little and how much has changed in the past two years — a time which, though short in the grand scheme, brought our economy and job market to new levels of despair. On one level, everything looks the same: ERP system implementations are still enormously complicated and prone to risk. ERP vendors are still promising the moon and ERP clients are still throwing bad money after good to get their software up and running. The difference is on an individual level. Today, more than ever, it’s not only important to cover your own hide but your organization’s as well. The era of cutting corporate check after corporate check to make a problem go away is over and shows no signs of returning. And the ones who are prospering in this brave new world are the ones showing their bosses and boards that they are making smart decisions with measurable returns. For better or worse, there is no better time to show your gumption, resolve and leadership skills than an ERP implementation.

So now, two years later, the advice we gave in that white paper still is worth repeating: don’t go into your ERP software selection process blind. Do your homework. Understand your own business inside and out before attempting to partner with an ERP software vendor. Don’t surrender the lead on the process; take it and make it yours. Don’t be reluctant to get help from a third-party.

The precise points we made are listed below, but I invite you to download the free white paper to get the full scoop as these are edited a bit for space:

1. Ensure time to prep with the software vendors so they have no reason not to understand your business.

2. Allow vendors limited access to your organization’s key employees.

3. Remember that you are the customer, not them.

4. Coach executives to deal with ERP vendors.

5. Let a vendor walk if necessary.

6. Remember you can often work with another value-add reseller (VAR).

7. Engage with an independent third-party to facilitate the evaluation.

8. Expect some turbulence and drama during the process.

If you are in the ERP software selection process or just getting started on implementation, additional white papers in our Resource Center that may be of interest include ERP Assessment and Selection: Getting it Right the First Time and Ten Tips for a Successful ERP Implementation. Registration is required for first-time visitors, but I assure you it’s a rather painless process.

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