ERP RFP shortcut time saver guide, no template required
An ERP RFP is an inefficient method to select a reliable ERP solution and expeditiously reach a successful outcome to the process. Here is a better, faster way to get the answers you need.
ERP RFP activities require substantial effort from yourself and each vendor. The more ERP vendors you have, the more work you create for yourself. Similarly, the more ERP vendors the faster the complexity of the information you need increases.
The classic ERP process, is to find or devize a ERP RFP template containing a list of endless questions for ERP vendors. You then send the ERP RFP to vendors, who start calling with queries about your ERP RFP questions and detail.
Some questions sow seeds of doubt in your mind about your prescription for the ERP RFP process. Did you miss something? Do you need to modify your ERP RFP?
Finally the proposals arrive. Now you have the unenviable task of collating, comparing and measuring ERP vendors answers. I can guarantee you’ll have to cut through sales and marketing nonsense, and often find your self trying to decipher the ERP vendors parlance.
It’s all very hard and tedious.
You just need an answer “what would work for us”? Here are seven simple rules to help make your life easier, avoid overthinking ERP RFP process, and make a pragmatic ERP selection.
1. Start with your customer and work backwards
Begin NOWHERE ELSE but with the customer journey.
Amazon’s guiding philosophy is “start with the customer and work backward”. They’ve nailed it, you cannot argue with this.
If you’re looking to select the right cloud based ERP order management system, start with the strategic thought of creating a great experience for your best customers.
I specifically mean a customer experience you can repeat time and time again. An experience underpinned by a cloud based ERP solution that will adapt and scale.
Systematically walk through every detail of every step of your customer’s journey. What works, what doesn’t, what’s needed, what can be improved, you get the idea.
If when you are doing this, check how you personally feel about the journey. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Is it frictionless, is it remarkable?
If it’s neither of these, then study how other players do it. This can be any business you have dealt with commercially or personally, where you have come away thinking “that was great”.
Dig deep. Your priority must be to craft a remarkable and as frictionless as possible customer experience.
Your new ERP platform should serve to help deliver this aspiration. Your ERP RFP if it has to happen, should ask each vendor to present a detailed vision of their version of how they would deliver a remarkable experience for your customers.
Don’t get confused, a remarkable customer experience is not solely about online interaction. Although this is part of it, I’m talking about every aspect from first contact, every order and issue, invoicing, payments and even returns.
Everything touched or seen by the customer should be forensically examined.
2. Create an MVP (minimal viable product), not an ERP RFP
At the end of this section, you’ll know what the smartest way forward is.
To be clear you need to choose one vendor, right now, and use their platform to create your minimal viable product (MVP)which illustrates all or in part the customer experience you want to offer.
This MVP is a sandbox or laboratory if you will. You can look at other vendors if the one you choose falls short.
Choose a cloud ERP vendor who can offer you immediate access to their Sass ERP. Salesorder.com can do this for you in minutes.
The business has a core activity, sell and fulfill a product to customers and make money. You need to focus on this core activity and discover a way to model this as soon as possible. You don’t know what don’t know, and really need to know until you’ve done this.
Your time is money. We are in the 2020s. We live in the age of fast answers. Amazon is very aware of this and exploits this expectation every second of every day.
All around us we see technology solutions we can pick up and start using. We often don’t need to figure out how they work, we just need to find out fast what they can do for us. This should be the guiding principle of your journey of discovery.
As is the case in most products, and at the risk of repeating myself we start with the core problem we are trying to solve and work outward from there.
In the case of a cloud based ERP order management systems, the quote or order to cash process is at the core of operations.
You need to try this immediately if the platform doesn’t make this easy to do, or do it well, you are in deep trouble. And it’s a sure sign there are other similar issues in the rest of the platform.
3. B2B ecommerce out of the box, and customizable?
Assume every person involved in buying from you has used Amazon. So the answer has to be based upon digital self-service. Just accept this, don’t argue. You are in for a really hard time if you do.
Digital self-service predominantly comes in two forms, EDI and b2b portals. Because it’s expensive to implement, it is only used by selective denominations of customers. However b2b portals address the news of the wider market. Users basically login, gather, or review the information and buy, then track the status of their orders.
The number of companies deploying self-service is still proportionally low to the size of the market. Here is a note of wisdom and to your immediate advantage. The reason is your competitors are using systems that do not have or cannot be extended to safely or cost-effectively deliver digital self-service. Think about this…
- They are using systems you should avoid at all costs.
- Their margin becomes your opportunity if you implement digital self-service (another of Amazon’s guiding principles)
The bottom line here is, don’t even consider proceeding with a vendor who cannot show you an easy way to do digital self-service well. Make sure whatever they show you can be easily adapted – please don’t be persuaded this latter point is not relevant. It really is.
4. An ERP RFP will not tell you if the vendor system is easy to use
Everyone makes this mistake on their ERP RFPs. Ease of use is strategic.
You have a large and diverse community of individuals with different skills and requirements. It will honestly feel like herding cats if the users cannot try out the solution without too much training.
Also if because of peaks and troughs in demand you use temporary workers, then there is an obvious advantage choosing a system which is easy to learn and use.
5. It has to be very straightforward and cost-effective to customize
6. The cost, effort, time required for the MVP has to be super low
7. Keep it simple
Start with the customer, and think backward.
All the best
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