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To choose an ERP software, don’t just rely on the numbers: use your head!

By Jean-Baptiste Sachot, 2:00 PM on December 19, 2017

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Picking a new ERP software is a bit like selling a house: you don’t want to make a mistake, so you try to make a sensible decision based on objective and costed arguments. You draw up a list of criteria “for” and “against” and you attempt to completely control the process by putting a number on every last detail. But how do you choose between lots of ostensibly similar packages? At some point, when it comes to picking an ERP solution (much like choosing a house), you just have to take the plunge.

Fight your fear: use a scientific approach to choose an ERP software

Picking ERP software affects your entire company. And the more people there are, the harder it is to make a joint decision. Whatever your company’s decision-making model, be it hierarchical or collaborative, it’s tough to escape the fear that comes with this decision. And with good reason. If you’ve based your choice solely on the arguments put forward by one member of staff, won’t they be in the firing line if something, no matter how small, goes wrong?

For a decision of this magnitude, you have to share out the responsibility. So, it seems wise to entrust the job to a project team that includes the main users and then ask this team to use a scientific approach, which entails:

  • drawing up a long list of product specifications
  • creating evaluation grids for each criterion, no matter how minor
  • summing up the evaluation in comparative tables for the different software companies.

And then all you have to do is click on a button in your Excel spreadsheet and you’ll see the following answer: “You should choose ERP solution X”. Job done.

Read more > Rolling out ERP software: don't waste too much time on specifications!

Does rational mean impossible?

It’s simple: you have to make a rational choice. Choosing an ERP solution isn’t like falling in love. Sometimes, love isn’t all you need. No, your decision must be reasonable, justified and scientifically proven. But hold on, that doesn’t mean that you should forget all of the human considerations!

  • Yes, you will need product specifications: you should ask questions, find out the answers and draw up a shortlist of the most suitable suppliers.
  • Yes, you will need to see demos and a grading scheme to compare the tools, evaluate the vendors’ performance and their ability to satisfy your actual needs.

But in the end, none of this advice will necessarily make the decision easier. Because a perfectly rational choice is also often an impossible choice.

The problem:

  • ERP software A scored 17/20 whereas ERP software B scored 16.5/20. Overall, ERP A performs better, but ERP B has all the features that your admin department is most interested in.

The dilemma:

  • Should you go for the tool with the highest score or opt for the next-best tool that has everything some of your staff want?

Put your calculator down and listen to your team

What’s the solution? Well, it involves putting your specifications, sums and reasoned arguments to one side to leave some space for human considerations. As an analogy, think about foreign-language learners. Spending all day with your head buried in books and dictionaries is all well and good. But if you really want to master a language, you have to go out and talk to native speakers – and actually enjoy talking to them.

Read more: Generic or specialized ERP solutions?

It’s the same for ERP software. Forget about the grids and scores for a moment. Ask yourself which piece of software you’d really want to use every day and which is the tool that you’d really enjoy using. Your staff are going to spend many an hour day in, day out using this software, so it’s important that everyone is happy using it.

And don’t forget that behind every package there’s a software publisher and/or an integration specialist. People. Real people. How did your conversations with them go? Do you feel that they listened to you? Who seems as if they best understand your business and what it needs? And whom do you want to work with?

Finally, do you have the same outlook as the software company? Do your aspirations match up? Before making a decision that will commit you long term, at least be sure that you’re heading in the same direction.

Don’t just choose your ERP software using the cold, hard results on grids and tables. Sure, use your list of specifications wisely, but then leave room for human considerations – they’re the added extras that will help you make a well-informed decision. The best ERP software for you is, without a doubt, the one you can’t wait to work with.

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