“Whew, that was easy. We finally picked an ERP software vendor. When do we go live?” Well according to the implementation plan that we developed prior to signing, you should be live within the next year or so. And of course, just like the selection process itself, that schedule is set in stone.
Anyone who has ever been involved in an implementation, even just a single application, knows full well there’s no such thing as a software project “set in stone”. Very few selections actually “do it right”. Even the most experienced companies and buyers think they have to “sign the contract” before they get started. Not so. After the ERP selection, there should be a “cooling off period”. Here’s how it works:
- Let all the vendors know the selection is over and where they stand in the rankings.
- Bring in your “primary selection” and let them know you’re not signing a contract.
- You’ll begin the “discovery phase” and expect a “preliminary implementation plan” within so many months (depending on the size of the project).
- The primary vendor thinks they have you over a barrel and they do, if you act that way. Be prepared to go to the secondary vendor.
- Guaranteed the secondary vendor will be more than willing to agree to your terms provided you let them know where they stood weeks earlier.
- Come to terms with the chosen vendor on how much you’re willing to pay for the discovery and preliminary plan.
- The “preliminary plan” is NOT a complete implementation plan. It is a plan that details the unique processes of the organization and how the software will operate inside those parameters.
- This may sound contradictory but it’s not… Make sure you at least cursory look at all processes but the unique processes should have been identified during the selection.
- Sign a services agreement for “phase 1” of the implementation plan which is basically the preliminary plan mentioned above.
Depending on the outcome of “phase 1”, there is a remote possibility there could be a “phase 2” prior to signing a software license agreement. This becomes a very tenuous situation within a selection/implementation cycle because both parties are “testing” the resolve and performance of the other party.