If you are strongly considering implementing an ERP, the first thing you need to do is sign up for an ERP demo. You will not want to select any product without first getting a sense for how it works, what it can do, and how the provider will serve your interests.
Just as important as signing up for the demo, however, is insisting on getting the kind of demo you really want and need. It is easy for a provider to show you the flashiest features and highlight the most exciting examples. But that does little to tell you if an ERP product and provider are really worth your investment.
One of the advantages of an ERP demo over other ways of connecting with a company is that you get to have a hands-on, face-to-face conversation with someone who really knows the nuts and bolts of a product. Use the opportunity to get clear answers to these five important questions:
Can You Meet My Specific Business Requirements?
The needs of your business overlap with others in your industry, but ultimately the specifics are completely unique to you. An ERP vendor will spend a lot of time telling you what a product is capable of doing. But you will want to get direct answers about whether it can meet your exact business requirements. You want a product that can simplify and facilitate things, not create more obstacles and obstructions.
Will this Streamline Important Tasks?
One of the primary purposes of ERP is to alleviate the ongoing burden of data management so that your team can spend more time on more important things. But not every ERP is equipped to streamline the kinds of tasks that your team wastes the most amount of time and energy on. Think about the kinds of workflows that lead to the worst mistakes and greatest frustrations. Then ask an ERP provider to explain exactly how their product can improve the process.
Do My Business Process Have to be Adapted?
Your goal with any ERP implementation is to create new opportunities and abilities but not to disrupt established practices. The best ERP product is one that can be adapted to the way you do things, not force you to make adaptations of your own. Don’t hesitate to really press a vendor to explain in detail how well its product can conform to the types of data and processes you already depend on.
What is My Management Burden Like?
For many reasons, you want to work with ERP that is as easy to implement, manage, monitor, and optimize as it can possibly be. That way you don’t put a major new stress on your IT team, or have to contend with a buggy and broken new enterprise application. During an ERP demo you may be overwhelmed with specs and breathless tech talk. Don’t be afraid to focus on simplicity and ease of use.
What is the Total Cost of Ownership?
The right ERP for you is one that delivers an ROI within the acceptable boundaries you set. You will hear a lot of impressive figures thrown around during and ERP demo, but they rarely highlight the total cost of ownership with all the attendant and unexpected costs factored in. A vendor may not be able to give you an exact number, but they should be willing and able to walk you through the costs you may not have anticipated.
When you ask these questions, don’t just evaluate the quality of the answers. Pay as much attention to how willing a vendor is to be open, honest, accurate, and helpful throughout. An ERP demo is a valuable way to vet both the provider and the product.
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