Selecting a software vendor for your next ERP system is like a courtship. In the ERP courtship, there are four basic phases.
The Four Phases of ERP Courtship
You meet, greet and find a synergy between the two of you. It’s like a speed luncheon.
Your first real date. The vendor finds out as much as they can about you—dislikes, likes, pain, your deepest desires—it’s about you.
It’s now the vendor’s turn to shine and show how much they listened during the discovery. It’s time to prove they’re the one and why.
Point out how you’ve shown them the future and how you’ll take care of them. Paint a picture of how life can be.
What You Should Expect in the Discovery Phase
First, I always start off with a tour of the plant. People are proud of where they work and the things they do. You can learn a lot during a tour. I’ll stop and ask questions, look at shop paperwork and note what my guide talks about the most.
From the vendor’s perspective, the discovery is the deal breaker. Without it, I’m just another pretty face in a crowd of hundreds.
Here are some of the questions you should expect to be asked:
- What’s important to you?
- What’s important to your CEO/CFO etc.?
- What do you like about your current process and system? What do you not like?
- What causes you pain?
- How do you do your job?
- How does someone else’s actions or inactions affect you?
- What’s your terminology for various parts of the process?
- How do you react to change?
- What failed in the past and why?
- What succeeded in the past and why?
- What’s driving the quest?
- Are you tired of the old looking to solve real issues, life expectancy running out or just kicking tires?
- What’s happening in your business? Is it growing, slowing or dying? Why?
- Who’s the competition? Why do customers do business with them?
- What’s the approval process?
- Is there a budget?
- Is there a timeline? What’s driving the timeline?
- Is there a team in place?
- What’s the decision-making process?
- Checklist? Mandatory items?
- Who “owns” the project?
- How do you define success?
- How will you justify the project?
- What kind of ROI do you need to have?
- What can you use in the calculation? Only hard savings or can they include soft savings?
- Do you want some help with the ROI and justification?
The Power of the Wand
Toward the end of the discovery, I hand the person to my left a pen and tell them it’s a magic wand. With this wand, they are allowed a single wish—the ability to change one thing that would impact them the most either in their specific job or the entire company. The wand then passes to the next person. (One of the rules is they can’t wish for more wishes.)
The effect of this is quite profound. All of the other folks start thinking about their answers. It empowers those that didn’t say much during the discovery to be heard, and most importantly, it gives me a name and what’s important to them. It brings everyone into the process, gives everyone a voice, makes each person feel important and helps them to “buy in” to the process.
A good discovery leads to a great demo, which leads to a great purchase.
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