ERP blogger Eric Kimberling of Panorama Consulting recently posted some advice about selecting an ERP system, along with a few comments about specific systems, which we thought we’d share today (while adding a couple of our own).
We know that most clients think (or hope) an implementation can be accomplished in a few short months. We usually try to let them down gently when we will tell them that a year or more is the norm – with large and comprehensive systems often taking considerably longer.
Kimberling, who owns an ERP consulting firm on Colorado, notes that his firm’s experience is indeed the same: about 18-24 months for the “average implementation.” And that’s regardless of whether the system chosen was SAP, Infor, Oracle or Microsoft Dynamics.
Among those particular choices (SAP, Infor, Dynamics, Oracle, Dynamics), his firm’s experience showed that Microsoft Dynamics was the lowest cost on average to implement, but generally took longer too.
Some of Kimberling’s advice to shoppers includes:
- Define and prioritize your highest priority business requirements to quickly arrive at a short-list
- Leverage independent experts who can help you quickly narrow the field
- Don’t forget to consider implementation while evaluating ERP systems (Don’t just focus on the software: understand how it will be implemented.)
And we would add one that’s maybe a bit of a surprise: the software is not what matters, at least not entirely. There’s lots of good software: it’s the team you work with, and their understanding of how to apply the software to your business processes, that will yield the most superior results in the end. We know it from years of experience.
He reminds us that 50-70% of all the implementations his firm sees experience significant operational disruption. The industry average, he notes, has hovered just above 50% for many years. So… expect some disruption. Just emember, ERP is a strategic investment. It takes time, and it’s not turn-key. Work with your consultants and providers as a team – and we can assure you, you’ll get there. Patience on both sides goes a long, long ways.
According to some statistics Kimberling shares at his website, payback tends to come in greatest at years 3 and 4 after purchase. But we would add: after that, the ROI and savings are permanent.
Finally, Kimberling advises that you can quickly narrow the field down to the top ten or twenty percent by prioritizing those that meet two key requirements:
1) they are critical to your business, and
2) they are differentiating functions of various ERP systems in the market
Only those that meet both criteria should be used to narrow down your short-list.