For many wholesale and distribution companies, replacing internal inventory and accounting ERP software is like going to the dentist; necessary, but potentially painful. Even for those businesses who consider the software purchase as a strategic investment, it can still cause stress and anxiety among employees. Often, you can stave off the need for replacement with preventive action such as upgrades. This is why it is important to invest in software maintenance, and to find a software vendor that will also upgrade any customization work you have done – without charging more. However, if the system you’re using will no longer be supported, or if there has been a change in the business that renders it inadequate, you have no choice but to go to market. And when you do, it’s easy to make big mistakes. Here are the biggest ones.
- Requirements not defined properly (which can lead to nasty surprises).
This mistake is often the result of a rushed sales and implementation process, and poor communication with the software vendor. It is as much your responsibility as a company to define your requirements as it is that of the vendor you work with to spend the time learning about your business, and asking the right questions. Be wary of vendors who try to rush your company to the demo and proposal stage and especially of those who offer price incentives based on specific timeframes. To avoid this mistake, find a vendor who spends the time getting to know you and your business in order to make sure that their software is the best fit for your needs. Lastly, never assume that certain features will be available; always check with the vendor to make sure you’re not missing functionality critical to business operations. Once again, this should not be an issue with a vendor that does a detailed job during the sales process.
- Lack of buy-in.
If the people who are going to use the system are not motivated to make it a success, you’re headed for trouble. This includes those employees in management positions with decision making power and those who will be using the system at various levels within the company. Resistance from employees is a natural reaction, however there are certain steps you can take as a manager to ease the transition to new software.