“The ERP software doesn’t work like we thought and there’s no way we’re going to do this again with another vendor. What say we just move forward?” You’ve just lost your power with all the vendors. You may think you can fake your way through a set of negotiations, but you would be wrong. “It’s hard to fake sincerity”, people talk and things get said that give away your position.
If you hear yourself saying these words, you’ve gone way too far into the implementation. It was supposed to be testing for the critical processes. It may last months’ depending on the size of the ERP project, but if it lasts months and months and months, you’re doing it incorrectly. RFP’s become virtually useless at this point because people want to make sure they’re getting everything they requested in the RFP. Again, don’t do that. And if you do move on to the secondary vendor, testing the critical processes may be slightly different because of features they do or don’t have in the software.
But what are you really testing? Yes of course all the critical processes but you should also be testing the vendor. What are they doing? How are they doing it? Are we redoing things too often? Do they really understand my business? These and many more questions should be included during the “phase 1” of the implementation. This can be a tricky time because without a software contract signed, most often a vendor will put their “A players” on the implementation and things can go fairly well. And that’s okay because as long as you know they have good people, you know the job can be completed.
This obviously leads to the question of potentially switching out the A players to B or C players once the contract is signed. Of course everyone always wants the A players but if there’s good leadership, a good plan, and good direction, those B & C players can not only save you money, they can be well worth the savings. So again, what are we testing? Not just the software and the people, but also the plan.
So yes, by the end of phase 1, everything should be tested; not everything in the software, but everything that is critical to the success of the implementation. If you have done this, your risk for failure is reduced and better, opportunity for a successful implementation is greatly increased.