TGI - ERP Software Solution

Main Menu

Posts Tagged ‘erp vendors’

Small Business ERP Total Cost of Ownership: Looking Beyond Upfront and First Year Costs

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010 by Alex Smith

One of the most significant hurdles a small business faces in deciding whether or not to migrate to an ERP system is project cost. Generally speaking, the total cost of ERP implementation can be divided into three main categories, including software licensing fees, implementation and training fees, and annual maintenance fees. This third category, annual maintenance, is often overlooked in the software evaluation process. It is imperative that the small business’s selection team consider not only the software vendor’s maintenance fee during implementation but the software vendor’s maintenance fees for the years following implementation (and what is included with such maintenance fees) in order to calculate an estimated five-year total cost of ownership. This five-year total cost of ownership calculation will give the selection team a better view of what the business’s projected cash requirements will be for implementation as well as the years following implementation to determine the most cost-effective long term solution for the organization.

Many software vendors begin to charge their new customers annual maintenance fees the day contracts are signed. At TGI, we believe charging new customers maintenance fees during ERP implementation is inappropriate. Given that a small business ERP implementation may take anywhere between three and six months, we do not believe a business should have to pay maintenance fees on Enterprise 21 when the software is not yet being used in a live transaction environment – annual maintenance for Enterprise 21 is free for one year from the date of software installation, allowing for a more cost-effective first year of ERP ownership.

Secondly, the business’s selection team should consider each software vendor’s maintenance fees for each year following ERP implementation. Do the software vendor’s fees increase after the first year? Do the vendor’s maintenance fees increase each and every year over time? In addition, two great questions to ask ERP vendors are, “What is your annual maintenance fee today? What was your annual maintenance fee five years ago?” While these two questions may seem inconsequential at first, they are crucial to determining the most cost-effective long term ERP solution for the business. The business does not want to be faced with a situation in which its maintenance fees have doubled in the first three years following ERP implementation. When a given vendor’s new software sales start to slump in times of economic downturn, the easiest way for the vendor to make up for its loss in revenue is to increase its maintenance fees for its existing customers; therefore, it is crucial that the selection team search for an ERP vendor with a track record of consistent, non-escalating maintenance fees over time. At TGI, we are proud to say that we have never increased our annual maintenance fees since the company was founded in 1990.

By analyzing ERP vendors’ total long term solution cost, not just the cost to be incurred during the first year of ERP ownership, the small business will have a more accurate view of its budgetary requirements for the years following implementation and be in a position to determine the most cost-effective long term ERP software solution.


The ERP Selection Process: 50 Questions for Every ERP Software Supplier

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010 by Alex Smith

We recently added a new white paper to the TGI Resources Library, 50 Questions for Every ERP Software Supplier. This white paper lists 50 questions that are critical to a successful ERP selection project and must be asked of every potential ERP vendor. While there are some basic, general questions about product functionality, the white paper is not intended to be a list of questions relating exclusively to functional features; rather, the questions are designed to give the selection team a better feel for the software vendor’s general business philosophies, organizational longevity, approach to ERP implementation and customer support, annual maintenance fees, software upgrades, etc. One can think of the white paper as a “Getting to Know You” list of questions to ask ERP vendors. To download the 50 Questions for Every ERP Software Supplier white paper from the TGI Resources Library, please click here.


Reviewing ERP Vendors’ Pricing Proposals: Does the Proposal Reflect the Demo? Does the Demo Reflect the Proposal?

Thursday, September 17th, 2009 by Alex Smith

When engaging in an ERP selection process, it is important to require ERP vendors to provide pricing for all demonstrated software functionality and the associated implementation and service fees for such functionality in their pricing proposals. An unfortunate tactic frequently deployed by many software vendors is to demonstrate the full scope of their respective software’s functionality and provide pricing estimates for only a fraction of the software functionality that was demonstrated during the sales process. Some vendors, for example, will demonstrate their software’s ability to allow manufacturers or distributors to operate their warehouse in a completely paperless environment through the use of RF and barcode scanning technology. When these same vendors draft a formal proposal for the selection team, however, the price estimate in the proposal does not reflect a warehouse management system that includes RF and barcode technology. The intent of the software vendor, sadly, is to mislead the selection team, make the selection team believe they are purchasing an ERP system that meets all of their business software requirements – both current and future – and then demand the manufacturer or distributor pay for additional software functionality after the fact. The software selection team should view such practices as completely unacceptable.

There are two ways for software selection teams to ensure that the functionality that was demonstrated to them is reflected in the vendors’ proposals. First, the selection team should require vendors to guarantee, in writing, that all demonstrated functionality is included in the proposals. If a vendor is not willing to agree to honesty and straightforwardness, then why would the selection team ultimately choose to select that vendor as their preferred solution provider from the selection process? Secondly, as part of the software evaluation process, selection teams should look for a software vendor who has provided consistent, straightforward answers to questions and pricing throughout the sales process and has a proven track record of providing upfront pricing for all demonstrated software functionality.

Requiring software vendors to submit proposals that reflect all demonstrated software functionality will provide the selection team with the necessary information to select a software solution that is free of hidden or unexpected software costs.


The ERP Selection Process: Developing Your Initial List of Potential ERP Vendors

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 by Alex Smith

Developing your initial list of potential ERP vendors is a critical step in the ERP selection process. Your initial list of potential ERP suppliers will serve as the basis for which suppliers you will send Request for Information (RFI) documents. Suppliers’ responses to the RFI will in turn help you to eliminate some ERP vendors and move forward with others to conduct initial remote software demonstrations. The vendors’ performance during these initial demonstrations will then help you to select which suppliers you will send a Request for Proposal (RFP), invite to conduct on-site scripted software demonstrations, and ultimately make a final supplier selection. In other words, your initial list of software suppliers should (hopefully) contain the supplier you will finally select as your software supplier. To help generate an initial long list of potential ERP companies (roughly 25 companies is usually a good start), there are a number of resources available to the software selection team.

Google – Google is a great place to search for potential ERP software vendors. For broad searches, use keywords such as “ERP software,” “ERP system,” and “ERP systems.” These search phrases will provide you with a large number of companies to consider. For manufacturers, “process manufacturing software,” or “discrete manufacturing software” are great phrases to search on when looking for potential software suppliers. You can also search on phrases that are more specific to your industry. Companies in the food and beverage industry, for example, can search for phrases such as “food ERP software,” or “beverage ERP software.” Pharmaceutical distributors can search on phrases such as “pharmaceutical distribution software.” You get the idea. Google is an incredibly powerful tool and provides highly-relevant information in its search results.

Industry Publications and Associations – Various industry publications and trade associations are also a great place to find potential software vendors. Members of the National Association of Manufacturers, for example, can check out the software section of the online NAM Buyer’s Guide. Cheese and dairy processers can look at Dairy Foods Magazine’s supplier guide or the Dairy Foods website, while organizations who specialize in plumbing wholesale distribution can frequently find potential software suppliers in The Wholesaler or at www.thewholesaler.com. No matter what your industry may be, your industry’s leading associations and publications are a great place to start looking for potential ERP vendors.

Independent Consultants
– Independent consultants are a great resource for not only developing a list of potential ERP vendors but providing assistance and guidance in other steps of the software selection process as well. If you decide to use a consultant throughout the selection process, be sure to select a consultant who truly is “independent” and does not have a partnership or financial agreement with any software provider. Selecting an independent and unbiased consultant will help you select the best ERP vendor for your business.

For more software selection resources from TGI, please see the “ERP Software Selection Process” within the “Resources” section on our website.  This area provides tools to assist in the software evaluation process, as well as an option for obtaining a list of ERP vendors based on your company’s industry, revenue, and manufacturing process where applicable.