I think author Warren Berger got it right in his book, “A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas.” Berger argues that while we’re all hungry for better answers, we must first learn to ask the right questions. Through a number of well-researched stories, Berger demonstrates that the most creative, successful people in the world tend to be expert questioners. They’ve mastered the art of inquiry, raising questions no one else is asking—and finding the answers everyone else is seeking.
With so many different—and in some cases, overlapping—approaches to selecting a software system, how do you know if you are asking the right questions during an ERP (and/or a CRM) sales cycle? I have been involved in many sales cycles, and these are the questions that I see companies most often don’t ask, but should.
1. Is it a mistake to push Analytics and Reporting (BI) out to Phase II of the implementation?
Yes. Many customers make the mistake of pushing BI out to Phase II, but the problem is, Phase II may never happen, or it will happen too late. It’s better to access analytics and reporting sooner rather than later. In some cases, this access to timely BI information alone can pay for the new system, helping you gain ROI now rather than later.
2. What other supporting applications or technology can use a refresh at our company?
You are making a significant change to your ERP system, and it’s a good time to look at other systems too. If your ERP vendor can’t help with it, chances are they can recommend someone who can.
3. Does our decision-making team consist of all the right players?
In today’s world of consensus buying, 6.8 people are involved in the ERP buying decision on average. While it’s difficult to free up your brightest resources from their full-time jobs, ERP implementations are not simple and they can be costly. It’s important to put your best people on the job. Not just your best IT people, your best people, period. You’ll need a project champion, and don’t forget the executives too – you’ll need their support.
4. Do we truly know why we are looking for new software? What is the value expected?
An ERP solution is critical because of its ability to increase information consistency and accuracy. Many companies still suffer from “multiple versions of the truth” – incorrect and inconsistent information across the business. Sit down with your team and make a list of reasons why you need a new system, and goals for the project. Focus on specific business processes and system requirements. The more specific you can be upfront, the more detailed your vendors can be in their proposals.
5. Do you know our industry? Do you have best practices and implementation tools that focus on companies that do what we do?
The answer to this question is critical. If your ERP provider doesn’t know your industry, the project may fail. Ask for references. Too often, people select an ERP system based on factors such as price, current technology buzz or the system that is the flashiest. But without a good fit, companies are left with expensive customization and bolted together solutions. The solution: Find an ERP system that is industry-specific, with tools and features designed to solve your business requirements. The ROI and long-term benefits of a good fitting system are extensive.
Don’t miss next week’s post, where I’ll cover questions 5-10 that companies frequently forget to ask. Meanwhile, let me know if you have any questions about 1-5.
Director, Enterprise Sales, Velosio
Joe Gulino has spent 30 years growing and running mid-sized ERP and CRM consulting organizations. Recently, he has focused his career on helping large and mid-sized services companies select, procure and implement ERP and CRM solutions. He has experience in several industries including manufacturing, distribution and professional services.
Today, Joe serves Velosio customers in his role as Director of Enterprise Sales where he helps customers solve business problems using Microsoft Dynamics 365 technology. Joe holds a B.A. in Business Administration and Computer Science from Rosary College, and is based in Naperville, Illinois.