Frankie Does ERP, Part 2

  • Written By: David Clark
  • Published: April 15 2010

[Editor’s note: Frank is not a composite character. He is a real person, employed at a real company. I’ve changed certain identifying particulars at his request. This interactive series, created and published with his permission, is an exercise in what-if analysis based on interviews I am currently conducting with him.  You may find Frank’s use of language a little colorful. I have toned it down. It’s still colorful. Previously: Episode 1]


Thursday evening. I’m at home. Tomorrow I’m theoretically giving my boss a timeline and plan of action for purchasing an ERP system.

The good news: I sort of understand what an ERP system is, which I didn’t four days ago. The bad news: that’s about the extent of my ERP expertise, and he knows it.

The other good news is that right now I’m in my kitchen, which is where I pour an argumentative shot of Jameson’s over two rocks in a chipped glass I’ve had since college days.

All of a sudden my daughter’s in the kitchen too, and she’s talking to me. She hasn’t done that in a while. I think we’re both to blame for that.

“Have a good day, Dad?”

I didn’t expect this question. It’s unexpected enough that now, for some reason, I’m fighting tears. They’re not fighting fair. They’re wearing knuckledusters and carrying tire irons and swearing at my mother.

No, I didn’t have a good day. No, I generally don’t have good days. How do you explain to your 13-year-old daughter that your job has a lot in common with strychnine except that it’s rougher on the gut, that you’re really not up to your latest task, that there is something called an ERP which is of great significance to the people who are paying your salary, but not so significant that they’ve assigned the job of purchasing one to somebody who knows more about it than you know, which is nothing.

I do my best to explain.

“I think you’re being kind of a whiner, Dad, to tell you the truth. Sorry.”

She’s right. I tell her so. And then all of a sudden she hugs me, the same way she used to when she was 8. She’d just start humming aimlessly at the same time she was hugging you. One of those crazy endearing things 8-year-olds do. I leave the room before I lose what little is left of my composure.


The next morning I spend three hours at my desk, locked onto Web sites that focus on ERP selection.

By the time Theodore calls me into his office, I haven’t got a timeline and plan of action so much as some high-level items I want to work into mano-a-mano viability discussions. In other words, I want to piss him off enough that I stand a chance of getting some clear direction.

I launch right into it:

1. Timeline: A minimum of 18 months, factoring for ERP research, evaluation, selection, and implementation phases.
2. Expense: Significant and highly variable. Anecdotal evidence from blog posts and online forums suggest a ballpark minimum of 100K to 200K for midsized manufacturers deploying full-blown ERP systems with a range of cross-functional modules, depending on how you define “midsized” and “full-blown.”
3. Requirements-gathering: Perhaps the most crucial and painstaking aspect of ERP selection. May require significant investment of time and resources across the company.

Theodore’s not listening. In fact, he’s waving a printout in my face.

“Frankie, I want you to contact SAP now and open negotiations for an ERP system.”

“You what.”

Theodore starts reading from his printout: “Best-run businesses are using SAP solutions to help close the gap between strategy and execution—optimizing the performance of the business as well as the business network. SAP solutions, along with services and a wealth of extended value from the SAP customer-focused ecosystem, help customers become clear enterprises by providing insight for improved performance, efficiency for optimized operations, and flexibility to quickly adapt to changing circumstances.“

“Are you taking those batshitinsane pills again? What the hell is a ‘clear enterprise’?”

“Frankie, don’t piss me off. Just do it. There’s no justification for delaying the benefits of implementation. Phone them now and let me know the results.”

Christ, what a farce. Can you get an ERP system to fire your boss? Is there a module for that?

What should Frank do now? Got any advice? Recommendations? Helpful links? Suggestions? Leave your thoughts in the comment field below. Likewise, if you have any questions for Frank, let me know, and I’ll pass them along to him.

Update April 22, 2010: Find out what happens next, in Part 3!

Frankie’s resources (to date)
Reader comments from Episode 1
TEC's Software Selection Methodology
TEC Advisor
ERP Selection Challenge: Sage vs. Microsoft
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