ERP Vendor Reference Sites
Monday, February 18, 2013
Have you ever wondered why ERP vendors with so called hundreds, if not thousands, of successful implementations of their ERP product, only offer up a couple of reference sites for you to speak with but under strict conditions that they organise the hook-up?
Software houses have a streamlined, glitzy sales pitch fine-tuned over a number of years to press all of the buttons in your company so you will buy their product. They like to push very hard on the concept of becoming your business partner. Makes you think they want to share the success and pain of the project on some form of equal terms. Indeed many will offer shared deals but read the fine-print very carefully. The devil is in the detail!
As part of any sales pitch they know you are going to ask for reference sites so you can carry out checks on organisations using the product. Typically they proffer up one or two reference sites and names of people for you to speak to. Ask the vendor for a full list of their client base and you watch them duck for cover and offer up the most ridiculous reasons fornot being able to provide it.
The reality is most of their client base, according to the surveys that show a 70% failure rate, simply do not work to expectations and in some cases are unmitigated disasters. They certainly are not going to expose these sites to prospective buyers.
The other major issue, of course, is the interpretation of the term successful. From a software perspective if the software is running, albeit in a limited form. They spin it as a successful implementation! From the implementing clients perspective they may be running parts of it, after huge blow-out in implementation costs and not getting the expected benefits, but it wouldn’t be considered a success.
The other trick is to offer up a company that isn’t like yours as a successful implementation. The reference site has no relevance to your type of operation and unless you ask specific questions you can easily be swayed into a false sense of comfort with the package.
Talk to people in the reference company, other than the names given to you as they may be friendlies who will talk up the package. Ask for the operations manager and discuss scheduling, MRP, factory control and see what answers you get. Positive answers in order entry and accounts may not be supported in the operational parts of the business which is where the real gains are to be made.
The hype about becoming your business partners is a one way street. All of the problems, costs and heartache will be yours when they leave whatever happens. Partnering sounds good in words but remember they are in it to make the maximum out of it and they have fine-tuned the sales pitch over many years.
Getting your strategy right at the front end and driving the selection and implementation through your model and the 26 steps is a better way than relying on an industry that is rife with complaints and ever increasing legal actions.