Why do you want to buy and implement an ERP system?
No.1 on the top of this list has surely got to be to improve the business processes. There are, of course, many tactical advantages that you may be seeking, for instance, to enable your salespeople to access the information they need on the road, to get your shop-floor staff to report their work in real time, to have integration between your warehouse and the other parts of your business, and of course many more.
Now all businesses want to streamline and simplify their processes and ERP sales organisations are no different. It is difficult to sell a concept. It is easier to sell advantages and easier still to sell features.
Consequently most ERP sales pitches will get reduced to the lowest common denominator of a feature parade. “My mobile app is prettier/more functional than theirs.” But this runs the risk of diverting the client’s attention away from what they need onto a pure technology capability argument.
Is it any wonder that many companies then report after they have gone live that they have not achieved the targets they originally had for their ERP project?
They had a vision of how they could improve their business, only to have that deflected on to how good the technology of the winning system is, then to have to compare this back to their original vision.
A short analogy. How do you win a motor race? By crossing the line first. The features of the car are not the deciding factor. The winner may not have the biggest engine or the slickest tyres or the sleekest of aerodynamics, but the winner will cross the line first. It is no good having a car that has a top speed twice that of the others if it can’t turn a corner without crashing.
So in our ERP selection projects we need to make sure that we don’t get sucked into individual feature fashion parades. We need to concentrate on how we are going to improve our businesses. All of the features we are marketed must improve the bottom-line of the business. They must help to streamline the business process and reduce the cost base of the organisation.
By Phil Nicholls