Providing an ERP Vendor with your Expectations
Once you have covered your ERP requirements, it is important to provide a format for prospective ERP vendors to follow when developing their reply. This format will improve the quality of responses as well as ensuring you can easily process these responses once received. Giving the potential ERP vendors a structure also allows you to compare them directly, requirement-by-requirement.
This section of your RFP can follow much the same format you used to detail your requirements, covering areas such as feature availability, timeframe and customization. But as well as responding to your requirements list, an ERP vendor should also provide information on a number of other project variables.
You have already discussed your expected schedule for this project, now it is time for theirs. Request a detailed schedule from your potential ERP vendor covering each project stage, the personnel they would provide for your project and the availability of these personnel.
When do you require their response? Give them enough time to prepare a worthwhile reply but limit them with a requirement that any response after a definite date will not be considered.
Ask for a minimum of three customer references and request that these references reflect the challenges and expectations of your project where possible. Request the name of the business, the primary contact, their line of business, the date and time period work was done, and why they included that reference. You will contact these references, of course. You expect only to get good references of course, but you can use these as search parameters and might learn of less successful projects which provoke questions to be discussed with the ERP vendor at a later date.
Who will work on your ERP project and what are their backgrounds? Everyone hopes for top-level people with significant ERP implementation experience, ideally in your industry, but the reality may be different within your budget. How many hours do they estimate will be needed for your project and over what time period? What are the billing rates for different people or classes of people? Replies here will provide you with a time and expenses budget for your ERP implementation.
Your expectations for financial information from your potential vendor will depend largely on whether you expect to follow the RFP process with a request for quote (RFQ). Traditionally, an RFQ would be sent to ERP vendors who were selected following the RFP process. This document would request costing information for licensing, customization, support, maintenance as well as the payment terms. Even if you will be covering the majority of cost information in an RFQ, it is still useful to assess your ERP vendor’s financial standing at the RFP stage. Request financial results, client acquisition rates or product investment levels for the past few years. This is your chance to assess a vendor’s current standing and future stability.
As well as these project variables, it is also important to give prospective ERP vendors freedom in at least one section of their response. There may be a crucial project variable which you have forgotten to ask about, or a feature they feel would solve one of the outlined process inefficiencies.
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