Make sure you get the best enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for your business by asking the right questions. This week we are covering the final 5 out of 15 questions to ask an ERP vendor. For questions 1-10, see our previous post titled 15 Great Questions to Ask an ERP Vendor.
- What are you not good at? Regardless of what they say, no ERP solution is suitable for every industry and every company size. If a vendor is answering honestly, there are undoubtedly going to be areas they specialize in and areas they don’t. Make sure the things they don’t specialize in are not critical to your operation.
- Can I speak with a person from your implementation group who will work with us? Nothing separates the “men from the boys” like the quality, knowledge and experience of the people that will help you implement the ERP solution. Asking an implementation consultant tough questions such as “what was your biggest implementation nightmare and how did you handle it?” will tell you a lot about the company.
- Where is your telephone support located and can I speak with the person responsible from that group? Long after the hats, horns and “go live” tee shirts, it will just be you and the voice at the end of the support line. Your ERP life is in their hands. Make sure the support team you will be dealing with are experts not learning the software along with you.
- Can you email me that portion of your on-line documentation that explains production scheduling? Another overlooked element to an ERP supplier with substance is their user documentation. Make them show you the meat on the bone.
- How many customers are on the latest release of your software and when was the latest release? Aside from ensuring that the ERP software is upgraded regularly, you also want to know how many customers buy into those upgrades. It could be a red flag if you discover that the majority of their customers are not regularly upgrading.
Five Bonus Questions:
- How do your customers in our industry do “this”?
This question is targeted for two things: first, to see if they have other customers in your industry and second, to see if the presenter is knowledgeable about your industry. It will be easy to see based on the terminology they use and the structure of how they answer your question. It is obvious if they are completely clueless and do not know the specifics of your company.
- How do you handle “this” in your ERP?
If it appears that there is something of interest to you that they are passing over, simply ask them how they would do it in their system. Answers may vary, but if they do not want to answer it in the overview demo, it could mean they are stalling or do not have an answer since it may not be easily accomplished in the system.
- How would you suggest we do “this” in your system?
Another question that appeals to their expertise. Generally, the “this” is something very specific to your business that cannot be answered in generic statements. Pinpointing how well they respond to a question like this will reiterate their knowledge or lack of since they are suggesting.
- Can you change “this” within your product?
This one is designed to see how flexible their ERP is as well as how open they are to change within their current ERP. If they are not able to change, but suggest a customization, it means it will cost more money and time, which is not ideal. If there are ways to make it work, they should tell you.
- Is this how it is out of the box or is this a customization?
In general demos, companies will generally show the basics, but they will also show the key bells and whistles that will attract potential customers. These may be little or big, but if there is anything significant, be sure to ask if it is an out of the box feature that comes with the package. If it is an add on or customization outside the normal scope of their typical implementation, it can be a costly addition that surprises you.