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iStock_000076180913_SmallTo customize or not to customize? While it may be an easy decision when making your Subway order, this is a pretty hefty question when it comes to your ERP software. It can be challenging to determine what in the proposal and proposed solution is boilerplate as opposed to custom for your organization. After all, you are most likely searching for an ERP solution that meets the unique needs of your organization, so it is important to ensure that what you’re being sold matches that expectation.

Unfortunately, much of what you see in a sales proposal and sales process takes a cookie-cutter approach to demonstrate what your potential ERP vendors want to show you. Here are a few things to watch out for:

Make sure assumptions in the proposal match your expectations. Software vendors and their integrators will commonly identify assumptions that will help reduce their estimated costs. For example, managing organizational change, business process reengineering and data conversion are all tasks that are commonly assumed to be handled by implementing organizations. While this may or may not be accurate for your organization, these important activities must be handled by someone in order for the project to be successful. Remember that sales reps aren’t going to risk inflating their estimated costs out of fear of losing your business, so it’s important that you customize their assumptions to meet the unique needs of your business.

Ensure that you see a custom rather than canned ERP software demonstration. ERP vendors and resellers are well trained in how to position the strengths of their software, while minimizing weaknesses relative to the competition. When purchasing and implementing new software, your business needs and requirements are the only thing that really matters. With that said, it is critical that you view the capabilities of the software within that context. Creating custom demo scripts that reflect “a day in the life” of your operations is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you are getting the real scoop on what the software can and cannot do.

Understand how the software will be tailored to meet your business needs. No ERP system is perfect, so it is unrealistic to assume that any solution will be able to handle all of your business needs out of the box. According to our 2015 ERP Report, 91% of organizations customize at least some portion of their ERP software, so it is safe to assume that you will need to do the same – at least to some degree. You don’t want to go too far down the slippery slope of customization, but you will certainly want to consider changes to fit what is unique to your business and what the key competitive differentiators are. Make sure that the proposals you receive contain time and costs associated with this important and often overlooked aspect of implementation.

These are just a few of the ways you can ensure that your proposed solutions and the proposals themselves are tailored to meet your needs. This will ensure that YOU are driving the sales process to best fit your needs, not a sales team.

Learn more by downloading our white paper, Ten Tips for a Successful ERP Implementation.