Evaluation of ERP systems

Thomas Kalker

Thomas Kalker

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The decision for a new complex software system poses great challenges for companies. On the one hand it is necessary to find the “right system” for the processes and requirements of the company. On the other hand, a reliable and competent implementation partner is needed who has the necessary know-how from the company’s industry and with whom one can work together on a long-term basis, in many cases more than 10 years. The changes that such a new system entails often affect the entire company. And ultimately, the company invests a lot of time and money in such a project.

It is all the more important to carry out this selection process in a structured and transparent manner, to achieve a high level of acceptance among employees and to create a good basis for decision-making when choosing your new software partner and system.

This should not be a gut decision, but should be based on the criteria you have defined in advance. This is the only way to ensure that the core processes of your company are mapped and that the future partner can meet the scope of services and budget for the project.

Evaluation Canvas

To enable our customers to go through this selection process in a structured way, we have developed an Evaluation Canvas together with our partner, SIS-Consulting from Austria, which describes the project phases and the activities in each phase in detail. This canvas can be used to document and process the selection process.

Define Targets

Make sure in advance what goals you want to achieve with the new system and providers. This goes far beyond “I have found the right system”. Rather, it is more a matter of incorporating strategic goals of your company into the selection process. Where should your company be in 5 to 10 years? Which automation and digitization measures do you want to achieve?
Define these goals according to the SMART criteria, so that you can check whether they can be mapped with the new system or determine later on whether they have been achieved.

Fix your budget for the entire selection process. This includes a time budget in the sense of “What should or must be done or completed by when”, and the financial resources you need for the new system. Don’t underestimate the amount of internal time you will need for the selection and implementation of the new system.

The Team

For each project you need a team to whom you give the necessary time and decision-making freedom. Define the tasks and responsibilities in your team. And define how decisions are made.

Your Processes

When you determine a path, you must know where you stand and where you want to go. This also applies to your processes. Make an as-is analysis of your current processes. Talk to everyone involved, ask them about their problems and make suggestions for improvement. With this status quo you can create a “big-picture” of your current company and thus create the basis for future processes.

When designing your future processes, you should focus on the “What needs to be done?”, i.e. describe the workflow through your company and which regulations need to be considered. Detach yourself from people and the tasks that a person performs. Don’t develop scenarios of how a process should be mapped – these are tasks of your implementation partner.

Structured Evaluation

As with a sales funnel, you can define an evaluation funnel. Which providers should be contacted for an initial selection? Please note the difference between the vendor (this is the one who will carry out the project with you) and the system (this is the software that will be used). On the one hand, there are vendors that have different software systems in their portfolio, on the other hand there are software systems that are implemented by different vendors. It can make sense to select several providers for one system.

On the basis of the first feedback and information from the providers you select those with whom you want to go into the next round. For this purpose you should define uniform decision criteria. Differentiate between objective, subjective and KO criteria.

In short presentations, which can also be done virtually, you will finally get a first impression of the performance of the individual providers and their solutions. These, too, need to be evaluated in a uniform way. Select the provider or providers with whom you want to examine your processes in detail and then evaluate these detailed presentations as well.

Based on these assessments you should be able to make a decision for your future system and implementation partner.

Legal and Contracts

You are making a long-term decision here with a not inconsiderable expenditure of time and money. Get support in the preparation and review of contracts. This way you can ensure that you conclude a contract that is fair for both partners.

A Personal Note

There is no such thing as a 100 percent certainty of choosing the right partner. In the end, the overall impression is important – both parties must fit together and the decision should be supported by all. This commitment is a good basis for the subsequent implementation project.

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