How to Select an ERP System When You’re Dead

  • Written By: David Clark
  • Published: March 11 2009

When Nietzsche declared in 1882 that “God is dead,” I’ll bet he had no idea that ERP system vendors were already queuing up to fill the gap.

He just wasn’t the practical, forward-thinking kind, that was his problem (Nietzsche, I mean, not God).

Now, in heaven, they take the long view. So when they started casting around for a replacement to their legacy system, they took the time to conduct a thorough software evaluation process.

Which meant, of course, defining their objectives first. I imagine the boardroom conversation went something like this:
“Lessee, now, we’ll be needing a strong CRM component—those help desk requests are really starting to clog up the system… and to be honest, our field reps could use some tighter linkage with head office, know what I’m sayin’?

“And as for accounting functionality, OK, now here’s the thing. Forecasting numbers are a little unreliable since the Big Unplug… plus, you should see some of the inventory management headaches we’re getting into—transubstantiation, schmansubstantiation, you ever try reconciling a holy trinity when one of ‘em’s dead, fer cryin’ out loud? And anyway we’re thinking of rebranding our bread product line. 'Bi-weekly bread', now that’s got more of a ring to it, don’t you think?

“Oh, and we’ll need some sort of RFID mechanism for the new soul transportation system—ha ha ha, remember that guy who smudged his bar code on the way up?”

Enough. For those of you who aren’t dead, I offer this roadmap to follow for software selection. It’s part of a best-practice software selection manual we’re publishing in the months ahead, and I invite you to share your thoughts—leave your comments below!

Phase One: Research
Define your objectives
Develop your business case
Identify your stakeholders
Interview your stakeholders
Select your project team leaders
Select your project champions
Select your subject-matter experts
Achieve consensus and develop your list of requirements
Create your long list of vendors
Disqualify unsuitable vendors and handle disputes
Send letters of continuation to selected vendors

Phase Two: Evaluation
Structure and prioritize your list of requirements
Finalize your list of requirements
Translate requirements into a decision model
Export your decision model to your RFI
Send your RFI
Create rules for extensions
Collect RFI responses
Incorporate vendor responses into decision model
Analyze, rationalize, assess, and rank the data
Validate and verify the data
Develop a working list of vendors
Create a ranked shortlist
Notify rejected vendors
Handle disputes

Phase Three: Selection
Select a shortlist of three vendors
Develop a demo script
Invite vendors to conduct demos
Invite vendors on-site to show them your environment
Perform reference checks
Issue an RFP to your shortlist
Analyze RFP responses
Conduct product demos
Perform user trials
Assess implementation proposal
Conduct a TCO analysis (pricing)
Analyze market data
Visit reference company sites
Quantify the subjective assessment
Revisit your analysis
Make your selection

Phase Four: Post-selection
Negotiate the contract
Obtain executive approval
Notify rejected vendors
Handle disputes
Notify the winning vendor
Sign the contract
Plan for implementation
Conduct installation and configuration (or migration)
Perform user testing
Develop due diligence report/audit
Go live

Again, your thoughts are welcome... leave a comment below!
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