by:  Donald Clark CFPIM, CSCP
So you are in the market for a new ERP system.  Your existing system cannot cut it anymore; you have too many disparate systems that just do not talk to each other; you spend more time managing your system instead of your business, etc.  Whatever the driving forces that compel you to look for a new system, you need a good game plan to guide your search effectively.
One approach that seems common is to get all of your people together and carefully list all of their requirements and needs – down to the last detail and put them in a spreadsheet.  What you may end up with is a list that no system could possibly meet.  So maybe you can divide them into “must-haves”, “should-haves” and “nice-to-haves” and then send the list out to 10 different software vendors for their review.
The vendors then mark up your list – indicating where their solution does meet, could meet or does not meet all of your identified requirements.  You then can pick the top three or four vendors that had the most “does meet” checkmarks and ask them to prepare a demo for you and your team.  This readies everyone for the next step – the demos themselves.
Your chosen list of solution providers will all do their very best to show all of the features and functions their solutions can provide to you.  They will show how their solutions meet so very many of the requirements you outlined.  And, in the end, they may all look sort of the same and what you see may or may not address your key needs.
Our approach at Clients First is different and, we think, distinguishes from our competition.  Our main purpose when we first meet you, as a potential client, is to ask good questions, listen carefully and understand what they tell us about their business.  What do you do well?  What do you want to do better?  What is standing in your way? What are your challenges?  What are your opportunities?
In short – we want to know about the things that keep you up at night.  What could you be doing with your business if only you had the right tools, the right resources?  We want to know those key challenges that, if solved, will make a real difference for you and your customers.  We learn these about you when we conduct an in-person Discovery Session with you and your team.
Maybe one of the most valuable aspects of our approach to discovery is that it is truly a “Dual Interview”.  Of course, we need to interview you because we need to get to know you, your business and your challenges.  However, during this process you will be interviewing us as well.  You get a chance to see us in action; to ask us questions, to get a sample of what you can expect should we work together.  In short, we get a chance to prove ourselves to you.
One of the ways we prove ourselves is by providing you with a written document that we call the Discussion Document.  This document captures what we heard (most importantly — your most pressing needs) from you during the discovery session and gives you a chance to “take us for a test drive”.
By the way, this document is free of charge and yours to do with as you please.  You can even use it to shop around to other solution providers (although we hope you don’t).
Our discovery session and the Discussion Document are our first steps in building a solution that will do a great job for you – it keeps all of us focused on your key requirements.  From these we build a software presentation that makes sense and that addresses the business challenges you told us about and that we documented.  In addition, should we move forward to implementing a new system with you, the initial document serves to keep the solution we deploy on track to making you and your company more efficient.
If you are in the market for a new ERP solution, give us a call to find out how our approach to getting to the heart of your issues can make a big difference for you and your company.