An equally important piece to identifying the risks and rewards of Cost, Time, Implementation, and Support, is actually choosing the right manufacturing software vendor for your business. This is not something to be taken lightly, as you will be ‘married’ to your ERP vendor as long as you run their software. Before you select the ERP vendor that you feel is the right fit for your business, here are a few helpful things to keep in mind.
1. Look for a vendor with a focus on your industry vertical. If you are a manufacturer of ball point pens, look for a vendor that has an industry focus on repetitive manufacturing. If you are manufacturing custom, highly complex machinery, you would want manufacturing software specialized for engineer to order manufacturers. It’s helpful to find a company that actually has focus, versus a solution that can have a focus. If everyone at the company is knowledgeable about custom manufacturing, then they will be able to provide better business support for you than the alternative. If you need a can opener, do you want a real can opener, or the piddly one on your Swiss Army knife that will lead to tetanus shots at the doctors office? Your business deserves the best fit possible for your business processes.
2. Dig up the honest truth. Type in the vendors name in Google, followed by the word ‘lawsuit’ and see what shows up. Not every company is as reputable as they seem, or as kind to their customers as they claim, so it is well worth it to spend the time to look in the ERP vendors closet to see if they are hiding any skeletons. If a company has been around for 30+ years without one, they would be a reputable company to deal with.
3. Find out if you are dealing with a software company, or a software acquisition company. A software company cares deeply about their product and the services they offer to their clients, because they’ve put their name on it. A software acquisition company cares about growing their portfolio of products, and the revenue they provide to their investors. Check to see if the manufacturing software vendor in question has changed names recently, or has been bought out by someone else, as these are signs of a software acquisition company. A true software company will be deeply invested in their software because they created it, and they will care much more about the relationships they have with their customers, because the only investors they have are their customers.
4. Are they easy to do business with? Something that can often get lost in the comparisons of functionality vs functionality and spec vs spec when comparing software is the company behind those software offerings. When you get a proposal from an manufacturing software vendor, it shouldn’t be complicated. If you’re having trouble navigating the ins and outs of a simple proposal, this could be indicative of the experience you’ll receive when you have a support, contract, upgrade, or data migration question. If the relationship starts off feeling complicated, you can expect it to stay that way. Software experts should be able to deliver a smooth experience across all aspects of your purchase, from sales, to implementation, to on-going support. Make sure that the vendor you select can handle all of these with ease.