For many organizations evaluating ERP software, it is not unusual when the euphoric atmosphere during the software demonstrations eventually gives way to the harsh realities of implementation. That is, ERP software vendors are no help in setting realistic expectations and are usually part of the problem. Understanding the games that many ERP vendors play during the evaluation process can help avoid selecting the wrong package and dooming your project from the start.
First it must be recognized that the business of peddling ERP software involves huge commissions and the biggest sales pitch on the planet. While software vendors speak of the desire to partner with their clients, how many are eager to tell you all of the things their software does not do? Of course, this is a bit one-sided but you get the picture.
When the prospective buyer attempts to understand what is behind the curtain, most vendors play a shell game to conceal software limitations. For example, client questions about the software that result in vendor answers such as “it could, it might, in the future, write a new report, minor software change or I will get back with you” usually means the software does not do it and never will.
When evaluating software, a list of requirements and business scenarios for the vendor to demonstrate are prerequisites. In order to work around these challenges, most vendors agree with what a former US President once said, “It all depends on what your definition of the word is is.”
While all vendors claim their package contains best practices, whose best practice is the multi-million dollar question. Taking a blind leap of faith in this area may be the last leap you ever take.
During the sales process, some vendor practices are downright deceitful, involving power plays or acts of desperation. For example, do not get too excited when your company’s terminology is on the demo system menus and screens or some of your data is in the system. These common diversionary tactics do not mean anything when it comes to what the software can do.
Understanding the underlying technologies, integration, and support associated with any package is important. But these are the same reasons some vendors prefer that your IT department not be involved. Instead, they meet with functional managers or end-users who do not know the right technology questions to ask.
In the final analysis, do not be surprised when the vendor attempts to go over the heads of the evaluation team and straight to senior management (particularly if they are losing). This is called selling solutions to senior management. All vendors know senior managers are the least qualified people in the organization to be selecting software.
Similarly, any expensive package the vendor is suddenly giving away should raise plenty of eyebrows. We all know what they say about pigs: “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.” Trust me, the last thing you want to do is buy a pig in a poke.
As a member of the team evaluating the software, the vendor might provide free shirts, pens, meals, and maybe even a pass to the national user conference. In return, when a peer asks the vendor a tough question regarding the software, the vendor’s hope is that you deflect the question for them.
Want more information on ERP software? Discover and learn more about enterprise resource planning software by exploring blog posts, white papers and more at our ERP research center. For comparisons of the best ERP solutions on the market, download Business-Software.com’s Top 20 ERP Software report.