Owning Your Solution

There is a big difference between buying your solution, and owning your solution.  Many SMB ERP customers think of ERP solutions as ready-made packages that they will deploy and move on.  Unfortunately, many of these customers learn the hard way that in order to own your solution, you also have to put in the work.

Suppose your ERP vendor quotes you $30k to implement your new ERP software.  That cost represents their resources, software, and time.  The missing pieces of this equation likely include infrastructure, your time, your employee’s time, and scope creep.

Infrastructure is typically not included by your vendor because each customer has their own requirements.  Remote access, tolerance for downtime, number of users, number of add-ons, backup solutions, etc.  Infrastructure costs can vary greatly.  But going on the cheap with infrastructure after spending $30k on software and services is like building a house on sand.  Make sure you’ve got a solid platform to invest your time into.

You and your employee’s time is more than likely very limited.  In small businesses, there are typically fewer employees who are responsible for a wider variety of functional areas.  Writing your own reports is incredibly useful from a speed and cost perspective.  But if you have to invest 80+ hours of an employee’s time into coming up to speed, it may take you some time to get your return on investment.  Customized business processes, reports, and documents will require a great deal of time from your subject matter experts within your business to collect.  Not to mention the time it will take to organize and effectively communicate them to your consultant.  Owning your solution will likely require more of your time than that of your consultant.

Scope creep is always present in ERP projects and often times is quite necessary.  Remember that the software should adjust to meet the needs of the business, not the other way around.  That being said, it can be tempting to design an tablet computer when all that was really needed was a pen and paper.  Minimize your scope creep by forcing yourself to consider the costs of increasing the scope as opposed to scheduling it for a later phase.  Despite careful attention to detail, it’s quite common to find unexpected requirements during an ERP implementation.  So expect that scope creep will play a role in your project no matter what.

Owning your solution is about more than purchasing a product.  It’s about investing your time and energy into making sure that this core element of your business will address your needs in the most efficient way possible.  When you choose to implement an ERP system, remember that this is an investment of time.  The more of your time that you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.

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