Your senior management team has determined that their existing ERP solution is not capable to take business to the next level. Where should you start the process to identify the ERP solution that will meet your longer term strategic goals for growth and profitability?

You should start by laying out a clear executable step-by-step plan with a defined timeframe, project team responsibilities, business and IT objectives and proper software evaluation criteria.

Here are 4 steps for success to get a successful software selection underway:

1) Management needs to develop a software selection project work plan that clearly spells out the activities that will occur over a defined project timeline. This will be important to ensure project team members understand the timing of key activities to manage their workloads. A key consideration worth noting is that nobody on the selection team will be able to work on this project full-time. The reality is that although this project is critical, everyone will need to balance the time and effort they devote to it with their normal job responsibilities.

2) Each project team member should have defined roles on the project to ensure they understand what is expected from them for the project’s success. This should include role definitions for the project manager and ad hoc team members, such as business domain expertise for defining current and future business requirements.

3) Clear business requirements by process are required to determine if an identified software solution will meet your organization’s needs.  For example, ERP would include Order Management, Order to Cash, Procurement, Purchase to Pay and others.  The project’s management team must identify and document business requirements with key business leaders. These business requirements should also be prioritized to ensure critical business needs are met by the software solution or if any gaps exist.

4) Clear evaluation criteria need to be established to assist management with determining the “best” software solution to meet your business and IT requirements.  Some ERP examples may include:

  • Vendor size, breadth, financial strength, office locations, etc.
  • Vendor thought leadership – Industry and/or geographic focus
  • Vendor responses to your key business requirements
  • Vendor solution process mapping to business and IT requirements
  • Vendor strength and relevance of references provided
  • Vendor costs and implementation timeline
  • Vendor delivery capabilities
  • Vendor delivery tools and methods, including migration

These evaluation criteria must be broad enough, yet specifically focused and weighted to measure what is important to your organization. This will help ensure the large “net you cast” across evaluating numerous potential (e.g. 5 – 10) vendors will clearly identify the “best” solution.

By incorporating these factors into your selection process, you can separate the wheat from the chaff as you work to select a solution that will meet your current requirements and support your business as it grows over the years.

If you or your team have not previously engaged in a formalized software selection process for an enterprise application such as an ERP, then consider obtaining outside help to manage the process for you.  Answerport professionals can help with software selection and also implementation should the project continue. Please let us know how we could help by emailing us at info@answerport.com or call us at 414.289.9100.

I’d like to hear from you on successful selections or lessons learned.  Please share your experiences by emailing me at: tom.swinsky@answerport.com.

About the author:  Tom Swinsky advises clients on software applications strategy, planning, selection and implementation.  Prior to joining Answerport, Tom was the Director of Supply Chain Operations at Schreiber Foods, Inc. and had prior consulting experience as a Consulting Principal/Senior Manager with a large global consulting firm.  Tom has led the software selection and implementation efforts for several different ERP solutions for both small and large companies over the past 25 years.