When you choose to vacation in a foreign land, there are many options. If you want everything taken care of, without much input, you can choose the coach bus experience where you are carted from one destination to the next in comfort and follow a lifted umbrella through tourist attractions. Some people may want more flexibility and might choose a small van tour of 10 or less people, which drop them in a city for a day and give guidance about what to do and see before meeting for lunch. Others still may rent a car, grab a translation book or app, and make their way across a country -- engaging with locals and destinations independently.
Of course, none of these choices are incorrect. They lead to different, but valuable experiences. As long as the person knows what they prefer going in, how to best meet their needs, then the choice can be made in the best way for each individual.
When choosing a vendor, for any business project, a similar line of discernment is required. No one vendor is ideal for every company. Yes, everyone benefits if the vendor is experienced and knowledgeable. But the way in which they work, the nature of their specific expertise and their ability to meet your company’s specific needs and preferences is what really matters.
It’s essential to acknowledge that your ERP vendor and consultant is a business partner and one that will be very active in your business for at least a year and then a steady presence for many years to come. The chosen partner will learn in-depth details and give guidance on the processes used for sales, accounting, production, inventory, HR and more. Can the vendor you choose relate to your company? Has the vendor worked with companies of your size and are they able to relate to your unique processes?
It’s also important to remember that people are paramount. ERP launch, implementation and training, is as effective as the team of people leading these efforts. When you choose a vendor, choose a group of people who have the values and level of experience you trust.
Here are five important questions to ask your potential ERP vendor:
- How long have you been in business and how has your business changed in the last 5-10 years?
This question will give you insight into how the vendor runs their business and if you have similar values in your own business. Is the vendor smaller, larger or somewhere in between? Have they been bought several times over? Have they grown rapidly or slowly? Have they changed their software offerings a lot over the years or do they consistently support the same programs?
- What other companies have you worked with that have similar business processes?
This will give insight into their areas of expertise along with their experience in your industry. This is a good time to inquire about references.
- Who, specifically, will be helping us with ERP implementation and what is their experience?
Will your account be relegated to junior members of the firm? Who is your key contact and what is this person’s values, communication style and expertise? Again, people are paramount, so be sure and know who exactly you will be working with day to day, especially for troubleshooting.
- Who, specifically, will be helping us with ERP training and what is their experience in working with organizations like our own?
Same as question three, obviously, but consider what kind of person/people leads this very specific part of the project -- a person or team on which much of the ERP success rests.
- What support does your firm provide after we go live?
Once the implementation and training are done, your vendor business partner steps back and then… you want to be sure they will wait in the wings and help when needed in the way you need. What defines and manages that portion of the relationship?
Parallel Solutions has over 20 years of experience serving clients that range from start-up companies to those with $16 billion in annual sales. However, most of our clients fall into the small to medium business range of five to one 150 users in manufacturing, distribution, service and financial organizations. To learn more about our company, values, staff and distinct expertise, give us a call at (440) 498-9920 or email email@example.com.
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