Seven mantras for the right selection : The process of selecting an ERP package is not an easy task, a lot of thinking and evaluation is required for the right product. There are many numbers of ERP suppliers who are very active in the market. Some of the companies offering international ERP products include, Baan, CODA, SAP, Ramco, Software 2000, etc. As most of the standard products which are currently available in the market promise most of the features, the choice should be made on the basis of the needs of the business. The product should be selected on the basis of the functional needs and the IT needs of the organization and not on the basis of the promises of the vendors and consultants. The next figure shows the relative importance of various aspects in an ERP implementation process. package implementation people People are the most important aspect of ERP ERP is clearly a people based system; software and hardware are only the enablers. People by any account are the most important aspect of ERP. It is the people who will ensure that the implementation succeeds. The second important aspect is the way the ERP is implemented. The package, in fact, is the least important aspect. The selection of an ERP package needs a focused approach concentrating on the key organizational issues. The following can be a guideline for this process. Please note that this is only a suggested guideline and not the only possible approach. This may change significantly depending on your organization, business needs and the environment in which the business operates. Mantra 1 : Ask why an ERP We should never buy an ERP just for the sake of it. We should have sufficient reasons to justify it. This initiative has to come from within the organization. The finance or manufacturing head, along with the IT head are the people most likely to start the process. Do not buy an ERP because everyone else is buying it. It should not be like a rat race. Mantra 2: Get top management involved in buying decision Small teams should be formed to study how the ERP will work and what benefits will it bring. You have the task of making top management understand that ERP is not an IT project. Also top management should think of both, tangible as well as intangible, benefits. Mantra 3: Critical Process Identification Having got the top management involved, form a small team by drawing one person from each major functional area. Let the team draw current state processes of the organization. The outcome is likely to be flow charts showing the broad level processes. Evaluate how these processes exchange information from one an other. These charts are like a birds eye view and allow you to analyze the information flows within the organization. If required, assistance of an external consultant maybe taken to draw these current states. However, it is the organizational team which has to lead this exercise. Process charts should be simple, logical and avoid jargon. Resist the temptation of making too many charts. Make as few charts as possible without missing any significant detail. Mantra 4: Understand the concept It is imperative that the core team understands ERP as a concept and as a process. You may get an independent consultant to teach this. The consultants can show the general process flows of various functions. Consultant should draw these processes without too much information about the organization. The aim is to understand how an ERP works. The consultant would have seen many ERPs and would be able to give a generic picture. Thus, the core team would get enough information on how ERP fits into the organization and would know what issues are critical to the organization. Mantra 5: the alternatives It may take two to three months to introduce the concept of ERP in the organization. By this time, core team is already deep into ERP. A lot of information is available in media about various packages, their vendors, support, etc. You can make a database listing all ERPs and relevant details. First, cut selection can be made at this stage. Generally, five to seven packages should be considered further after the first cut. Mantra 6: the final selection At this stage, various short listed venders may be called. With lots of homework already being put into, you can save most of the time that goes in basic introductions and general presentation and can focus on more concrete issues. Interact with vendors to get as much information. The mode of this interaction could be meetings or presentations. Once you are left with two or three packages, go for detailed demos by building scenarios specific to your company. Carry out detailed demos for each functional area involving few more users. This is to understand how the package works and what changes are expected in the system. Mantra 7: the contract The logic culmination of the process in the creation of a contract and a project charter. The contract should very clearly list the responsibility and deliverables from the package implementer and the consultant.
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