Evaluating for a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is a time-consuming task that requires multiple personnel. Companies can take as little as a couple months or as long as a couple years. This range is so wide for a few reasons. First, the number of employees you have dedicating time to the project affects how quickly you can evaluate vendors. Second, how busy the company is to evaluate processes, coordinate demos together, and discuss solutions can significantly slow down the decision-making process. Lastly, the buy in from management and other employees affects their willingness to work on the evaluation and move forward.
Once final decision makers and other personnel involved in the decision-making process, you can begin the evaluation. Here is a general time frame that can work on an average implementation to get a final decision made within a year. It assumes there are multiple people working multiple hours per week on the evaluation, collaborating well throughout the process. It can be down within twelve months, in five stages.
Stage One (Month One): Fully evaluate current company processes and determine what to fix and what needs are, as well as a budget.
Before looking externally at ERP vendors, first gather as much information from the various departments as you can. Find weaknesses, areas you want to improve on. Find strengths and areas you want the ERP to work well with as is. Anything you can fix or improve before the ERP evaluation begins is important; however, some items will have to wait until the new ERP is in.
Stage Two (Months Two-Four): Conduct a thorough search to find a top ten list of companies that fit your industry and needs.
This stage can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of ERP vendors out there, but many are industry specific and clearly express this online. Starting based on your industry, you can help pinpoint and remove ERPs that would not fit and which ones would be a good fit.
Stage Three (Months Four-Six): Evaluate all companies via demos and multiple back and forth with various departments to eliminate the list down to a final three.
With the list of companies that do fit, view online demos or schedule overviews with them. Get a good view of what the solution can do for companies in your industry and focus on price and functionality at this point. Eliminate any companies outside of your budget and that do not meet your critical requirements.
Stage Four (Months Six-Eight): Bring the final three ERP vendors on site and do in depth demos with demo data, on site. Every department using the ERP should be having discussions with ERP vendors as well.
This is where all hands are on deck. Demos should have your data in them so you can see how your company would use it daily in all departments. Pricing should be down to dollar and any objections or issues on the minor details should be known (knowing that no ERP is perfect in every way, there will be some compromise).
Stage Five (Month Twelve:)) Make a final decision that is best for the company.
All the decision makers get together in the final stage to pick the right solution. Personal input should be given, but they should also consider the views from users who were there during the demo stages. Collectively, make the final decision and then get ready to pay and implement.