For the last several months we have published a series of blogs discussing the entire process of embarking on a business software implementation. From steps to take before you change, to choosing the right software, and VAR, and determining the right time to follow up with a prepaid sales engagement, we hope we have helped you methodically move your implementation in the right direction.

The final step, when all is said and done, is to make a decision.  You may be a member of the team or you may make the decision on your own.  Sales psychologists tell us that we actually go a little crazy at this point in the decision-making process, so don’t be surprised if you act that way.  If you have built your business case and the value is there, don’t let “No Decision” be your decision.  We see this happen frequently.  You will be harming your company by delaying the decision.  It may not be easy, but decide, “Is there value?”  “Which VAR seems to understand my needs the best?”  “Which solution seems to best capture the value at a price I can afford?”  “Which proposal mitigates the risk involved?”

With these answers in hand, decide “Yes” or “No”.  “No” is an acceptable decision.  “No” does not mean that you have wasted your time.  It may not be the right time; the payback may be questionable; you may not have the staff availability.  Making the decision, even if it is “No”, brings closure to the process.  If you decide “No”, you will free up your energy to focus on other projects or tasks.  If you decide “Yes”, you will be starting on an important step in the development of your company.  “No Decision” just drains away the energy and leaves everyone feeling frustrated.

Pricing and Contracts – Finalizing your Selection

Let’s assume that you have found the right business management software and the right VAR.  What now?  You have probably had a proposal from the VAR for the software and an estimated implementation cost.  Many times this is only a proposal and needs to be modified to fit the final solution that you have jointly determined is right for your company.  Make sure your agreement includes the business system and implementation costs as well as the vendor’s software maintenance.  Some of the elements of the implementation may include: functional analysis; technical and/or functional specifications; third party software included in the system; report development; dashboard or other reporting services; network configuration; database installation and support; pilot projects; end-user training; key user training; trouble-shooting processes; process documentation; end-user documentation; help desk support following your go-live and more.

Make a checklist of what items are explicitly included.  If it is not on your checklist, it is highly unlikely that it is included in the price.

Project Management

Does the price include Project Management?  Implementing your new business management system may be simple or very complex.  Either way, you or the VAR must provide a Project Manager.  Unless you have someone on staff that has been responsible for the successful implementation of more than three ERP systems within the past four years, have the VAR’s Project Manager do it.  His or her experience will more than pay for the cost.  You will lose less sleep and have an on-time, on-budget, on-target implementation. You will still have an internal Project Lead who will work with the VAR’s Project Manager.

Fixed Price vs. Estimates

Some additional points to question: Is the implementation an estimate or a fixed price?  What are the consequences of users not showing up for training?  What is the policy if you cancel an on-site or remote training session?  What is the support plan after you go-live with the new software?

If you don’t have a fixed price at this point, try to get one.  You and your VAR may need to have more detailed discussions to finalize the precise details of what is required and how much implementation support is required.  The more precise this document, the less likely you will be surprised by unexpected costs as your implementation approaches.  As we discussed earlier in our house building story, there will be change orders, but how many of us would build a house on a time and materials basis?  We all want to have a level of confidence that we know what we are buying and how much of our hard-earned money it will require.

Change (and the accompanying change order) is inevitable, but your planning will minimize the frequency and extent of these.  Add a buffer of 10 to 15% of your budget to cover the unexpected.  Remember that this is not about covering scope change, but about unexpected discoveries.  Scope changes may easily double or triple the project cost.

Stay tuned for our next series where we will be going over the implementation process of business management software.

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