Four ERP demo errors that could cause a bad software choice

“That demonstration from your prospective ERP vendor was perfect, and it is clear that our business will be helped to succeed as soon as the system is implemented!  Where do we sign?”

Hold your horses!  You need to put more thought into it than that. If you rush into things and make the mistakes below, you could run the risk of wrecking your project.

1. Not inviting the right people

The “E” stands for enterprise.  All of you will use or be affected by the use of any ERP.  If your accountants are the champions of a new ERP, the demo could well have been skewed toward their needs and typical profiles.  That’s OK; any good salesperson will tailor a presentation to match the audience.  Did anyone invite the engineers?  Did someone from sales remember the date and participate?  Unless all the involved departments are represented by people who asked good questions and got acceptable replies, this ERP could already be doomed.

Get the most out of vendor presentations and avoid costly errors using this step-by-step guide to mastering ERP demos

2. Not viewing the demo script beforehand

You and your ERP selection team have a list of requirements you carefully prepared well before the demonstration.  Hopefully you got the demo script ahead of the presentation and asked to modify it to address these requirements.  The vendor has a standard script designed to highlight their good side and ease over any weaknesses.  You need a demo that thoroughly covers your own requirements and spends little or no time on points not of concern to you.  You will use the ERP, not your vendor.  Don’t depend on a standard demo for your selection.

3. Not addressing integration requirements during demo

Many ERP systems will need to integrate with other software.  Often some customization to the ERP system is desired.  A typical demo might only address these needs with a gloss-over, such as “We use the most recent database and web technology to integration and customization are ready.”  The devil is in the details.  You can’t expect the programming to already be complete to meet your needs.  But if they really have integrated with other software already, ask for the demo to include data passing both ways to some system with typical validations.  This could especially be true if you want a cloud system and the demo uses an on-premises system.  These do not work exactly the same, no matter what the sales person says.

4. Failing to establish implementation and testing processes at demo

Most demos will show transactions from a part being purchased and received to a sales order shipping that part and the posting of the payment for that order.  Ask that your demo include the process of moving data to the ERP and the testing process.  Ask for ERP demos to include the training your users will get and support available to them immediately after implementation.  You want to see that this ERP works in a real environment and not only in a sterile laboratory.

The demonstration is only one phase of the process to select and install an ERP.  But it is one of the more important steps.  Get your money’s worth from yours or risk paying the price later.

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at customerteam@erpfocus.com.

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Tom Miller