Overcoming ERP Software Selection Analysis Paralysis

Written By: Brian Potts
Date: October 30, 2019

Consider this scenario: You have engaged a software selection consultant to help you evaluate and select a new ERP solution, you have narrowed from long to short-list, received your ERP RFPs and have viewed demonstrations. It is now time to decide. There are certainly considerations across the top few packages, but one has stood out as meeting the majority of your company’s needs and seems fairly well accepted across the team.

Basically, it is time to pull the trigger and make a decision, but all of a sudden you feel a rush of anxiety. Like finishing a test drive on that new Audi (or whatever you drive), knowing it’s the right move but fighting the apprehension to keep looking. Maybe your CFO is asking you if “all the potential solutions in the world” have been evaluated, maybe your production manager is questioning validity of the CAD interface or your sales director is complaining that the sales team will all quit if they have to replace Salesforce.

This “analysis paralysis” and endless other variations are normal. It’s human nature to second guess even the top ERP systems in the market, to want to have all the information and feel hesitation with significant decisions. We strongly recommend fully vetting options for your new software, but at some point, you will need to purchase something for the health of your business.

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Here are a few ideas that may help when facing your “analysis paralysis”:

You will not be able to fully vet all ERP software integrations and customizations

During the selection and demonstrations, the vendors have talked about how their product will be able to integrate with SOLIDWORKS, Manhattan WMS or that custom solution you built 20 years ago. Whatever the case, your new ERP will have to integrate with a number of different solutions.

Ideally, a number of these are existing and pre-built integrations, but you will likely find one or two that need to be custom built. You cannot expect your new vendor of choice to build those for you during the selection process, so you will need to have some faith that they have built integrations with similar solutions before and understand the interface needed.

Likewise, hopefully your ERP selection consultant has steered you away from heavy customization, but nearly 90% of all ERP implementations will need something customized. Don’t be afraid of this and understand that it is normal, especially in the case of unique processes and areas of key differentiation for your business. Vendors will not be able to “show” you these customizations but should be able to give you confidence on what they will look like.

Your business processes are going to change

We all know processes are going to change with an ERP initiative, but many people still don’t believe that “their” processes are going to change. Software demonstrations will show that a software can do what needs to be done, but may be in a different and even more efficient way. Users may fight this, complaining that the software doesn’t do things they way they like. This is ok and can be managed through proper organizational change management strategies.

You will never please everybody

If you are a people person this can be hard. Some people will fight to the end for a system they want or to make no change at all and stay with the legacy system they are comfortable with. You will never, under any circumstance, please everyone, nor do you want to. Pleasing everyone is expensive and suggests that no real change will occur, which is the purpose of this transformation in the first place. This is another key driver for effective organizational change management during your selection and implementation process.

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There is no such thing as a “perfect fit” software:

Similar to finding the “perfect” wife (or husband), there is no such thing as perfect software. There will be quirks, there will be things that could be better and there are unexpected costs in most cases. You are looking for the “best-fit” for your business and that which will bring positive ROI. Expect to make some degree of sacrifice for the greater good and think net-positive instead of zero-negative. Even in a custom-built environment you will reach development and cost limitations.

Opportunity cost is knocking:

You are selecting software for a reason. Yes, you want to find the best-fit, but lingering too long will end up costing your business lost benefit, potentially increasing and extending employee frustration as well as allowing competitors to take the edge. There is certainly no need to rush but get moving. Once a software initiative loses momentum, it becomes increasingly difficult to pick it up again.

If you’re still facing analysis paralysis, reach out to your favorite independent ERP consultants or ask your current selection firm for help in pushing through to a decision.

Brian Potts

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