4 steps to demonstrating ERP value across your business
Given that the letter ‘E’ in ERP means ‘enterprise’, when prepping a holistic systems sales effort, it stands to reason that you should involve an entire company early on. Your on-the-ground workforce often have an intrinsic, if not direct, ability to govern the ultimate success or failure of the effort.
Consequently, any approach to selling an ERP project must educate everyone, and the only sure fire way to get that done is to demonstrate ERP value company-wide, after first receiving sign-off from the CEO, CFO and constituent department heads.
A framework for demonstrating value
The presentation framework for this value demonstration should include the following essential elements:
1. Articulate, then establish an overall problem scenario, then break it down into specific areas which are applicable to the department in question. In this event, try to utilize real world examples, such as those discussed with the CEO at the start of the project. If you’re talking about reporting problems discuss specific reports, and if you are talking about inventory problems explain the processes affected. The goal here is to get everyone thinking about the same problems at the same time.
2. Once you have described the problem scenario, engage the audience and gather their input on what can be improved. Not only will the effort allow for some venting, but will undoubtedly surface some solutions that can be easily applied to the introduction of an improved ERP system.
3. Introduce various ERP solutions and discuss their merits within the context of the problem scenarios outlined. Again, the entire process is oriented to getting the workforce on-board and comfortable with the potential impact of the impending enterprise-wide change.
4. Once these ‘lite’ demos are completed, deliver a prepared questionnaire to the workforce based on the solutions discussed. Rate them on a scale of 1 to 10 for all characteristics of importance, and additionally add any closing comments. Secure the documents and close the meeting.
Recommended reading: 50-step ERP selection checklist
The final goals for this process are simple:
Discuss existing problems and the potential solutions offered by an ERP platform.
Announce the scale of the effort, i.e. long-term.
Directly engage the enterprise’s ultimate constituents, while at the same time initiating early confidence-building.
Allow for and respond to operational questions and concerns. Again, this sub-goal goes towards confidence building.
Establish systems rating priorities across the enterprise; then compare those values against management’s thinking. As a rule of thumb, enterprise workforce constituents tend to approach the same operational values that managers do. However, if final workforce ratings are considerably different when compared with management values, re-check assumptions made and prioritize requirements accordingly.
Note that I have prioritized my sales presentation script to focus on the enterprise workforce first. However, bear in mind that the described process for demonstrating ERP value is directly relatable to senior management programs, with the exception of dealing with financial elements that are typically beyond the budget purviews of rank and file participants.
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