When looking at an ERP assessment program for your business, it is sensible and commonplace to create any one of the following documents to put forward for vendors to answer and bid against: –
- Statement of Requirements
- Specification Document
- Request for Information
- Request for Quote
- Request for Proposal
The goal of these are always well intended and should map out the critical areas you need the system to manage and improve, then add desired functionality and nice to have’s which should always be separated both functionally and commercially to be able to compare appropriately.
Even with the most detailed documents, there are always GAPS that will not be translated properly by documentation, for any vendor to truly understand what is being asked, including any nuances or requirements for process change, they should in most cases be invited to see the business in action prior to submission of the appropriate response paperwork.
This not only gives the vendor better information but quite often this might cause some additional considerations for the client when listening to the questions and feedback from the selection of vendors.
Cost vs solution scoring/best fit
When scoring the responses for functionality and commercial relationships to this, there are a number of factors that should be considered to structure this is a sensible way: –
- You should specify at the outset of how you wish the vendors to quote, such as reasonable estimate based on best breed for all elements, or straight to what they might consider being a ‘best deal’ approach. Due to varying factors on final negotiation terms, this needs to be defined early to make comparison easier.
- Where possible specify a budget, it saves everyone significant time as not declaring one could be misleading. If you truly are solution lead, then this is not required.
- Break the requirements down to must have’s, could have’s and blue sky (would love to have). This will enable you to not only cost like for like in each section but plan and understand the TCO (total cost of ownership) and value proposition for each element. Companies often try to defer elements such as B2B commerce and Product Configurators (as an example) where the value propositions for these could be clearer and more obvious than the core implementation.
- Look forwards, ask the tough questions….what does the upgrade path look like, what happens if the system goes down if it is hosted…who do I call to understand of the problem if system or hosting based?
- Think about self-service for ongoing support versus the standard maintenance and support packages, should you really be needing to reach for consultants every time you want a new report or enquiry writing, or when you wish to amend a transaction layout or add a field, what is the actual cost and pain that this might cause?
- How mature is the product, is it a re-brand, is it proven, how many customers have they actually have deployed…..smoke and mirrors are very commonplace with the evolution of the ERP eco-system to try and blend the messaging around on-premise and cloud along with what are being promoted as new products, but are just re-badged.
- What are the roadmaps for the solution? Does this fit with where your business might end up? How agile is the solution?
- Ensure you have planned for your internal project team, be that internal resource, bringing in an internal consultant to lead this, or by engaging with an independent consulting firm to assist you with the process and the implementation.
When going down this very significant piece of work, look at your trusted process owners within the business and bring them into the analysis and requirements gathering. It is key that adoption and full understanding of what is required and why are captured. These may, of course, be changed due to best practice once assessed…but understand the ‘why?’ for each and every process and what does the outcome need to be.
Consider an external consulting firm, there are some very good companies who will add objectivity to your requirements from many years of experience in such processes. The costs incurred here can certainly add serious controls and save time and cost further down the line.
Get to know the potential vendors by visiting with them if possible, you will be spending a lot of time with them during any project and it should not be underestimated that you feel comfortable with who you are engaging with for such a project.
Finally, regardless of who you select, remember the reasons why you are making the change when the peaks of change and work occur, it is key to keep an eye on the reasons and the business goals to keep the team motivated whilst they manage tasks alongside their own demanding day jobs!