The scope and intensity with which the tasks of ERP software selection are tackled vary considerably in practice. Depending on the manner of the investment decision the following „selection types“ can be identified:
Especially in middle-sized family owned companies, ERP selection is often done without extensive preparations and based mainly on recommendations and personal relationships. Next to references, the decisive factor is usually the personal mutual trust between the management levels of the company and the ERP vendor.
In such cases, ERP selection is limited to a few conversations which are the basis for a rather roughly specified ERP software and maintenance agreement. The specification of requirements and necessary customisation are postponed to the implementation phase. In this, the vendor, being the specialist, usually takes the lead.
In middle-sized and large companies, ERP selection is often delegated to single departments or employees. In order to be able to deliver a profound recommendation, the project leaders perform an intensive sounding of the ERP software market. By means of fairs and vendor presentations they gain a rather broad impression of the ERP vendors resp. ERP software products on the market.
Based on their personal impression they short-list candidates and recommend an ERP vendor to the management. Within this approach the detailed specification of the ERP software is also postponed to the implementation phase.
The approach of the "Calculated Decision" in the sense of a classic investment project can also be found in middle-sized and larger companies. Usually, this approach is motivated by the need to constitute an investment proposal to different decision panels (e.g. management, board of directors, partners etc.).
Negative experience with previous software projects or the phenomenon of "fractions with differing views" also further the motivation for this approach. For a "Calculated Decision" the mentioned tasks of ERP software selection are worked off relatively systematically - with a more or less adequate sense of proportion.
In some cases companies overshoot the mark: process documentation and requirement specification sheets fill complete shelves. Ten to twenty ERP vendors stream in and out for presentation. And the ERP software contract fills a thousand or more pages. In these cases ERP selection rather resembles an academic exercise than a sensibly executed investment project.
In practice, hybrids of the listed types can be found in ERP selection. Often, there is also a development of approaches, e.g. from the "Strategic Decision" to the "Free Search" to the "Calculated Decision". In these cases, ERP software selection usually follows a learning curve which, however, is bought at high costs.
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