July 10, 2024

Optimizing the ERP Search & Selection Process: Insights from a Manufacturing Software Vendor 

Having a powerful, seamless ERP system has never been more essential for manufacturers as technology becomes a key competitive differentiator. However, navigating the ERP search and selection process has never seemed more daunting, given the number of vendors, products, and features to evaluate. Since enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a key component of success in modern manufacturing, there is high pressure to get the search and selection process right, and there are dire consequences if it results in selecting an ERP solution that is not optimally suited for your business’s specific needs, challenges, and goals.

Software vendors have the solution. Since they are developing and selling the ERP, they are the best source for product information, buyer resources, performance metrics, and implementation insights. Today’s vendors are eager to help with the search and selection process and willing to provide invaluable guidance and insights because they want to build trust and cultivate relationships—not just close deals. That is why the leading ERP vendors apply service principles more than sales tactics when connecting with prospects.

No better resource exists for buyers. Tap into everything ERP software vendors have to offer—while still conducting objective due diligence—using these strategies:

Explore the Whole Picture

 Can an ERP do everything you need it to? Rather than making guesses and assumptions based on what you can glean from the sales and marketing materials, ask the vendor for a complete functionality list, including all modules, add-ons, and upgrades. The goal is to see everything the ERP can (and cannot) do in one place.

If you are still determining what features and functionality are required for your ERP, this process helps reveal what is possible and realistic. If you are past that stage and onto ranking vendors, you can compare your own requirements directly against the complete features list to find the closest match. In either case, you save time and prevent confusion by asking a vendor for the list.

Lean on the Customer Success Team

Software vendors’ customer success teams exist to help you maximize ROI. They have people and processes to help you understand how a new ERP aligns with your organization and further your strategy, and in most cases, they are willing to put together plans and forecasts customized for your company.

These tailored resources can be very helpful whether you are still trying to identify your ERP requirements or actively vetting vendors. They also reveal something important about the vendor beyond the software itself. While you want a powerful and optimal ERP solution, you also want a vendor that is committed to your success and equipped to deliver.

Think Differently About Demos

Demos are not about vendors presenting their products. They are about you touring the software on your own terms while getting a revealing look at the vendors behind them. Tell the presenter what you want to see, do not be afraid to interrupt or ask questions, and request hands-on interaction with the solution as much as possible. Think of the demo more like a test drive.

Along those same lines, note how accommodating and upfront the vendor is willing to be during the demo. Does the demo follow a script? Are the URLs using the same tenant and version? Will they explain how the demo was created? If the answers raise red flags, the product and vendor should too.

Verify the Details

Ask the vendor to provide references of past or present clients, ideally manufacturers similar to your own. Speaking to references allows you to confirm what the vendor has been saying is true. In addition, the vendor’s willingness to provide relevant references speaks to their overall approach to serving clients.

Details about the implementation are also important to request. Can you meet the project manager beforehand? Who will handle each phase of the implementation? Will you need to pay for travel? Every vendor handles implementation differently, making this a revealing way to compare one vendor against another.

Making the Final Selection

You can consult customer reviews, analyst ratings, or industry experts when selecting between ERP vendors—but all the information you need is available from the vendors themselves.

Instead of indirectly getting information and answers, go straight to the vendor about your goals, budget, strengths, and obstacles, and then challenge them to build you a solution, not just sell you software. At that point, the right choice is simple: select whichever vendor you trust to be your long-term software partner.

Is your manufacturing business seeking a long-term, certified Infor CloudSuite Industrial partner? Guide Technologies’ team of manufacturing and technology experts is here to help. Contact us today to start the conversation.