First of all, let’s be clear: If you’re in the market for an industry-specific ERP solution, that solution and its features are very important. It has to meet as many of your requirements as you can realistically expect, it has to as standard as possible with as little need for customization as possible, and it needs to upgrade easily in the future – among other things. Those are all given, and if the product you’re looking at doesn’t meet these requirements there’s a good chance you’re looking at the wrong product.
Something, which is sometimes overlooked in the search and selection process, is to take a closer look at the company behind the industry-specific part of the ERP system, often known as the ISV (Independent Software Vendor). In our search for the right features and functions and making sure the right people feel comfortable that they can ‘live’ in the new ERP solution, the focus is almost solely on the needs and requirements as per today and if the solution lives up to that as per today.
4 Things To Look Out For
Here’s why it’s important to investigate the ISV company and a few things to look out for:
1. To what degree does the current product fit to our needs?
Obviously, since the solution we select will soon go into actual production in our company, the right features and functions need to be there. But:
- What is the standpoint of the ISV if not all requirements are met today?
- Are they willing to have that dialogue with you, take your feedback and work directly with you in finding a workaround or getting your feature into the standard product?
2. What kind of partner has the ISV chosen to work with?
ISV solutions are typically delivered by a partner who already have experience with the ERP solution serving as the foundation for the ISV solution, be it Microsoft, SAP or others. However, the type of partner the ISV has selected to work with, sends a signal as well:
- Does the partner focus on your industry, and can they prove it?
As an example, do they approach the project based on a methodology that have been used by others in your industry?
- Do they see themselves as partner of the ISV or merely as a reseller of a product?
You will be likely be working with the partner for years to come, and the continued focus of the partner on your industry is important both now and in the future.
3. Can the ISV present a roadmap for the product?
Everybody knows that changing ERP system is not easy, and it’s definitely not something you would want to do very often. The investment in money, time, organizational change management etc. underlines the need to get it right in as few attempts as possible. Important questions are:
- Can the ISV and the ISV solution support that – meaning, is there a visible and credible plan for the product going forward?
- Can the ISV tell you immediately what you can expect from the next version?
If not, it may be a sign that the roadmap is not clearly defined which should be flagged in the final selection. As a customer, you should always be able to see the latest roadmap and speak directly to the ISV about it. After all, your input as a real world customer should be an important part of what drives the product forward.
4. What’s my gut feeling?
At the end of the day, companies do not deal with companies. People deal with people. If two ISV solutions are very similar and the partners to deliver it are very similar, we tend to buy from the people where we have the best gut feeling.
It’s no secret that gut feeling is extremely valuable as a selection tool. And that is why you should feel right about the ISV solution you choose for your company. You should aim to meet or talk to the ISV during the selection process. The right ISV will see you as an important part of their future, so starting a dialogue already before you buy anything makes a lot of sense and also gives you a picture of what you can expect from the ISV going forward.
In TRIMIT, we find the time we spend with the users of our solution incredibly valuable. We find that the best ideas, feedback and questions come from our dialogue with existing customers and customer who are considering our solution.
If you’re in the market for ERP system, we encourage you to look for an industry-specific ISV solution on top of the standard ERP product, and we hope the notes above can help you in your search and selection process.