Lose the Starry-Eyes, Analyze:An Ideal Customer for Relevant INFIMACS



There is a client for every ERP solution, but how do you identify the vendor that considers your company as its ideal candidate? Different vendors target different industries, markets, and specialize in certain areas more than others. While it is good to identify vendors that work within your industry (Refer to the Industry Focus column of the TechnologyEvaluation.com Vendor Showcase), it is also important to review the products that support a similar set of functionality to your company's requirements. To this end, TEC prepares a page of graphs for each company in the vendor showcase. The graphs specify the ideal candidate for each vendor based on the vendor's strongest areas. By reviewing these graphs and then using TEC's ERP Evaluation Center's WebTESS tool, you can determine how closely the functionality your organization requires, aligns with an ERP vendor's ideal candidate.

Understanding the Ideal Candidate Page

For each high-level criterion in the TEC ERP Evaluation Center's knowledge base, there are four graphs. The first two graphs are baseline graphs. In the baseline graphs TEC normalizes all criteria to an equal relevance, which allows you to see how a vendor's product scores on its own merit, without regard to any one module taking precedence over another. By checking the vendor's results against a normalized baseline, you clearly see the modules and functionality on which the vendor puts the most emphasis.

The second set of graphs is prioritized according to groups of criteria. TEC adjusts the baseline in these graphs so that it corresponds to each vendor's focus. The prioritized graphs make the vendor's strengths stand out against its weaknesses. A group of criteria increases or decreases its contribution to the vendor's scores according to the type of support the vendor provides.

When you go through the graphs for a vendor, notice that in each set of graphs (the baseline pair and the prioritized pair) there is a global priority bar graph and a contribution analysis spider graph. You can look at the global priority graph and by glancing at the height of its bars, see the criteria that are the vendor's greatest strengths. By comparing the baseline graphs to the contribution analyses you will see what the vendor supports in relation to a benchmark of the criterion's optimal contribution.

Examining Relevant

You may look at the ideal candidate pages for several different vendors, see one that seems to match very closely with your requirements and suppose this vendor's solution is aimed at your type of company. Be aware of the perspective from which you consider the criteria; let's consider Relevant Business Systems.

The first thing we see looking at Relevant's ideal candidate profile is the overall global priority baseline (Figure 1). This graph shows the functionality under consideration for the Relevant product where each of its factors have an equal priority. In other words, if the Financials, Human Resources (HR), Manufacturing Resources, Inventory Management, Purchasing Management, Sales Management, and Product Technology groups were all just as important to your company, Relevant's modules would satisfy the requirements in each criteria according to its contribution analysis graph below (Figure 2).

Figure 1.

Figure 2.

The graphs in figures one and two are useful primarily as a way of seeing the raw results of what Relevant's solutions support.

To get a better idea of the top-supported areas in Relevant's product, you should look to the prioritized graphs (Figures 3 and 4).

Figure 3.

Figure 4.

Figure 4 shows that we adjusted the comparison benchmark to make it follow a path similar to Relevant's strengths and weaknesses. The prioritized global priorities bar graph (Figure 3) shows that Relevant's strongest point is Manufacturing Management, while its weakest area is human resources. Using only these graphs for an ideal Relevant customer, and the data available in the ERP Evaluation Center's knowledge base, we can determine a lot about the areas for which Relevant's systems are most suited.

The Relevant Perspective

The perspective that you use to consider each Ideal Candidate graph makes a big difference toward how you judge the vendor's strengths and weaknesses. We cannot first look at the Human Resources module (Figures 5 and 6), see that its Payroll Management criteria extends all the way to the edge of graph and then assume Relevant offers an excellent system for payroll management. We have to start our assumptions at the highest-level of criteria (Figures 1 and 2), compare the individual modules against each other, and consider them against a normalized benchmark.

Beginning with the high-level view, Relevant seems to support most of the criteria. Figures 3 and 4 on the other hand, show a steep drop for the Human Resources functionality.

Figure 5.

Figure 6.

Based on Figures 5 and 6, we see that Relevant's system supports only the Payroll group of criteria in the HR module. Essentially, a human resources module is not part of Relevant's focus. Considering that Relevant's least supported module is Human Resources, it might seem strange that the payroll section extends to the edge of its graph. We will see however, from a quick comparison to its scores in The ERP Evaluation Center that it is wrong to assume the graph means Relevant provides a fully-featured payroll system. A vendor may have a very high score in one group of criteria because it supports a lot of that group's functionality, these features however, might not be included with the type of support you are seeking.

Research this by selecting Relevant in your WebTESS project and checking the needs you've prioritized. You can quickly recognize whether your company has similar priorities to an ideal candidate for Relevant. If, for example, your company will not need its system to address personnel management or benefit management, but does need it to take care of payroll management then the Relevant solution might initially look like a good fit for your company.

Suppose your company is seeking a solution that offers excellent support for payroll management but does not need any of the other features under the human resources criterion. In Relevant's case, you will notice that every rating in the Earnings and Deductions section of its Payroll group is a "modification." Compare this to another vendor, for example, the Oracle E-Business Suite, which has a "supported" rating for each criterion, it is now easy to see that while Relevant gets a high score for Payroll in its own ideal candidate profile, it does not support all the functionality a company might need from the perspective of finding a Payroll system.

This highlights two important things to understand before coming to a conclusion about the functionality a company supports. First, part of the reason Relevant's graph appears very high in the payroll section is that the other criteria of the Human Resources benchmark were set to zero to show what Relevant addresses and what it does not. This means that the amounts these criteria contribute to the Human Resources module as a whole, are redistributed to Payroll, hence the importance of payroll as a criterion is much higher in HR than it would otherwise be. Second, by checking the individual criteria of the Human Resources section in The ERP Evaluation Center, we determined exactly what was supported.

Vendor Comparisons

If you were comparing Relevant against another vendor whose ideal candidate profile also excelled in the Payroll area you would want to see to what degree each supported the Payroll Management criteria. Researching the specific criteria the vendor supports based on its ideal candidate profile should illuminate why a vendor would or would not consider your company's requirements ideal for what its product supports. For example, we see from the overview of the high-level criteria (Figures 1 and 2) in the Ideal Candidate Profile that Human Resources was not the best area to consider for supported features from Relevant, rather we should analyze the product from the perspective of its Manufacturing Management functionality.

In fact, when all criteria are given an equal priority (the normalized benchmark in Figure 2). Relevant's Inventory Management and Purchasing Management scores are not far behind its Manufacturing Management score. These groups of criteria do not have any higher level groups that could influence their contribution to the graph, so we should look at these as the real strengths of Relevant's system.

Focus on Manufacturing Management

Relevant has a number of strengths such as Inventory Management, but its strongest point is clearly its Manufacturing Management module; let's examine the module. Figure 8 shows that Manufacturing Management extends the furthest from the center of the Contribution Analysis baseline graph. Figures 7 and 8, show the areas of Manufacturing Management that contribute most to the overall score.

Figure 7.

Most of the groups of criteria within Manufacturing Management are well supported. Consider how Relevant supports each group, we can see that while Product Costing contributes the most to the Manufacturing Results score, Relevant also has a high-level of support for many of the features available in Shop Floor Control. In particular, Relevant offers support for more than half the group of criteria (in Shop Floor Control) concerning Quality Control and Hazmat reporting.

Figure 8.

If your company is seeking a solution that emphasizes Manufacturing Management as one of its strong points, you would want to research Relevant. By starting from the highest-level graph, the prioritized contribution analysis in Figure 4, we quickly determined the main areas that Relevant supports. Once you concentrate on a product's capabilities from the perspective of its strongest modules, you can get a good idea of what sort of customer the vendor would like to support.


Using Relevant Business Systems, this article demonstrates how to use the TEC ERP Evaluation Center's WebTESS tool to quickly determine how closely the functionality your organization requires aligns with an ERP vendor's ideal candidate.

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