Are you getting ready to start a new accounting system or ERP selection process? One thing to keep in mind is that the selection itself is a project—a project worthy of the same level of planning, documentation, and execution of any other project with a similar impact. And your choice of ERP can have a significant impact, not just on your accounting department, but on your entire organization.
You will need to create at least a project or task management plan, a contingency plan, and a communications plan for your ERP selection project.
In this post, we’ll focus on the task management plan. Be sure to create a task management plan that allows you to make the best choice for your organization by including the right people and tasks. Here are some tasks you might want to include–keep in mind, they won’t all be linear:
ERP Selection Task Management Plan—Sample Tasks
- Select your team. Think long-term. Be sure to include someone from every functional area that will be impacted by a new ERP system over the long term. Include your firm lawyer or someone from the purchasing and/or contracts department.
- Brainstorm about needs. No idea is too crazy at this point. Break your list into three columns—”must-have” functionality, “nice-to-have” functionality, and “really-pie-in-the-sky-but-heck-wouldn’t-it-be-great” functionality. Determine where you sit on platform strategy—on-premises or the Cloud. Determine where you sit of the sophistication spectrum. Are you a small business just starting out or a mid-sized business with more complex needs? Determine how much you have to spend overall. Remember, with any ERP project, the software license fees are going to be only about a third to a half of the cots. Could be more, could be less.
- Start looking at products and vendors. Make a list of products from analysts’ reports, reviews, and recommendations. Look at ads in trade magazines, on the Internet, and pasted up in the railroad station. Look anywhere and everywhere. This is your long list.
- Do the research. Look for sound companies with good references. Make sure what the company has to offer in terms of product and service meets your short-term and long-term needs. Make sure the functionality matches up with your needs. Whittle your long list down to 3 or 4 products/vendors.
- Think about partners (see our post, Why Hire an ERP Consultant). Are the ERPs you are interested in sold direct or through partners? Look for a local partner that has a good reputation and whose skills match your needs. Picking a partner is a bit like picking a spouse—you should be in it for the long term.
- Contact vendors or partners and ask for webinars or live meetings. In a previous company I worked for, we took our short list of an unwieldy 8 vendors/partners and had a demo day. We flew people in from all of our functional areas for a very tightly controlled 2-day program where each vendor got 15 minutes to set up and got 60 minutes of facetime. At the end of the two days, everyone was exhausted but we had a really good sense of what we needed and wanted. We reduced our list to 2.
- Start negotiations. With one solution we looked at, we knew we would get 80% of what we wanted out of the box, but the 20% customizations would be at a high cost, while our number two choice was going to give us 50% of what we wanted out of the box, claiming more flexibility at a lower customization rate. Do all of your cost analyses, but don’t make it a cost issue—this is a system you’ll probably live with for a long time.
- Have your selected partner/vendor come in and let key people work on the actual software, even if it’s just a demo database. Make sure eager salespeople were not selling you vaporware and that everything works and works for you. Call references. (DON’T skip this part of the ERP selection process.) Do your due diligence–cross all of your t’s and dot all of your i’s.
- Make a final recommendation. Do this in writing so that when people need to understand different aspects of this purchase, they can easily get the answers they need. Create a comprehensive recommendation document so people don’t have to go find other documents. Get all of the approvals you need along the way IN WRITING and include copies in your final documentation.
- Make your purchase and get a good night’s sleep!
NexVue can help you get that good night’s sleep. We’re that all-in-one partner who can help you select, implement, and support your enterprise resource management system. Give us a call at 203.327.0800 or visit our website at www.nexvue.com to see how we can help with your ERP selection.
For 15 criteria to consider when selecting an ERP, see our blog post, Selecting an ERP that’s Right for Your Organization.
Learn more about Acumatica.
Download the whitepaper, “Clearing the ERP Clouds.”
Join us for a webinar to learn more about Cloud ERP.
More from my site
- Selecting an ERP Solution That’s Right for Your Organization
- How Acumatica Helps Accountants Communicate Financials to Stakeholders
- Use Your New ERP to Improve Processes
- Cloud ERP —Real Benefits or Pie in the Sky?
- ERP Success—Project Management
- Acumatica Webinar: Project Accounting for Service Businesses