Analyzing the unique needs of a company and choosing the right ERP system
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A privately owned manufacturer of custom portable buildings was seeking an ERP system to replace QuickBooks and Excel spreadsheets. The business is operated as a hybrid of construction and manufacturing disciplines and a previous attempt to implement a manufacturing ERP had failed. The new CFO and IT leadership for the company sought assistance from Aventine Hill to select a different ERP that could be successfully implemented.
Because the company had many manual processes and new leaders in some critical functions, it was decided that certain key processes would be flowcharted as part of the software selection process.
- A CIO Advisor was deployed part-time to lead the software selection process and vendor negotiations.
- A Business Process Consultant was deployed to document "Level 1" diagrams for the business units and "Level 2" swim-lane flowcharts for key business functions. The flowcharting work was time-boxed to provide cost certainty for the company.
The CIO Advisor and Business Process Consultant initially did a two-day walk-through of the business, observing the life-cycle from sales through production, installation, servicing, and accounting. This resulted in the first draft of the Level 1 diagrams. The Business Process Consultant then conducted detail interviews to develop the Level 2 flowcharts over a period of a few weeks. Key pain points and requirements for the business were also captured.
As the flowcharting neared completion, the CIO Advisor conducted a workshop with senior leaders from all key functions to align on a Vision for how the company wanted to utilize an ERP. Strategic decisions were made regarding how to balance the company's desire to plan production and manage revenue and costs similar to a construction company while seeking certain purchasing and labor efficiencies more similar to manufacturing shop floor environments. The company also decided to seek a solution with an integrated CRM to replace Salesforce.com and to change its time collection process.
The workshop decisions were formalized into a presentation and shared with software vendors to identify which systems would be formally evaluated. Eight software vendors were spoken to about the company's needs and budget. Three vendors were excluded as not a good fit; two others were excluded based on the expected cost of licensing and implementation.
For the evaluation, the three remaining vendors were provided a desired agenda for an on-site workshop and customized software demonstration. The goals were to see how easy it was for each vendor to prepare for the workshop, and to allow them to specifically demonstrate how their software would meet the company's needs. The vendors were told not to do "canned" demos.
After the workshops, each vendor provided initial quotes for software licensing and the implementation. There were material differences for certain critical functionality and the proposed costs for the vendors. Detailed discussions were continued with two vendors to fine-tune their proposed scope, implementation approach, estimated hours, and rates.
A detailed report was prepared to compare and contrast the final two options. A workshop was conducted with company senior leadership to debate the reasons to choose one system over the other. Having two acceptable choices provided the company with more flexibility in prioritizing the benefits it sought. It also enhanced their negotiating leverage with the vendor the company concluded was the better fit. Specific advice was provided on licensing terms, negotiating strategies, and the statement of work scope.
Thanks to the support of Aventine Hill Partners, senior leadership for the company had the choice of two ERP systems they could be confident would meet their needs at an acceptable budget now and for the future. Negotiating leverage was maintained throughout the selection process. Detailed flowchart information is now available to help guide the implementation workshops. Senior and line management are excited to have a path forward to improve the company. IT leadership is confident that the problems experienced in the prior ERP implementation will be avoided. Learn more about our ERP Selection and Optimization capabilities.