40 Powerful Questions to Ask ERP Providers

October 24, 2013
By guest blogger - Adam Bluemner

Finding the right ERP system and vendor for your business can be one of the more daunting challenges your company will undertake. One of the keys to meeting that challenge is understanding the right questions to ask sellers, so you can gather the info you need to make an informed decision.

Regardless of your company industry or your specific functional needs, the questions listed below are critical to ask of prospective ERP providers. Utilize these questions to make sure you are fully identifying business opportunities, analyzing security capabilities, effectively checking references, setting the right implementation expectations, accessing the necessary level of training and support, putting yourself in a position to scale for future company growth, and understanding how to measure the results of your ERP purchase.

Business Opportunity Related Questions

1. What is our greatest opportunity to improve efficiency and how will your software assist with it?
2. How will your software help us generate more revenue?
3. How will your software help us make better business decisions?
4. Looking at our technology and processes, what are we doing right that your software will help reinforce?
5. Looking at our technology and processes, what are we doing wrong that your software will help correct?

Security & Risk Questions
6. How do we ensure users can access only approved areas and functionality within the software?
7. How does the software help us meet our compliance requirements?
8. How does the system record user interaction and create an auditable trail of user activity?
9. For any remote access (including cloud based deployments), what security protocols are used to protect data outside of our network?
10. Does your software easily allow for frequent data back-up?

Reference & Vendor Quality Checking Questions
11. Can you provide me access to any community forums for current users of the proposed solution?
12. How many clients are you currently supporting who are running the proposed software?
13. Can I talk to an active customer running the proposed solution?
14. How long has your company been in business?
15. Why should a customer choose to work with your company rather than a competitor offering the same or similar software?

Implementation Questions
16. How long will implementation take?
17. What implementation tasks will you handle? (Ask specifically about server/network preparation, installation, system configuration, integration with other information systems, report creation, data conversion, customization of forms and documents, security set-up, alerts and notifications, and approval/workflow definitions.)
18. Who will handle our implementation and what are their qualifications?
19. What happens if implementation runs long?
20. What happens if there are implementation problems?

Training and Documentation Questions
21. How much training will be required to get users up to speed?
22. What training resources are available? (Ask specifically about videos, webinars, train-the-trainer options, classroom sessions, etc.)
23. What documentation on the software is available?
24. Are there active user communities discussing how to get the most of this software?
25. Which of the training resources available are included with your proposal?

Ongoing Support Questions
26. Who do we call when we have problems and what’s their expertise level?
27. How are regular software updates provided and implemented?
28. Is there 24/7 tech support?
29. Will we receive access to any consulting hours as part of the proposed support package? How many?
30. How easy is it to find support from providers other than your company for this software?

Scalability & Future Proofing
31. How do we add users to the system and what costs are involved?
32. What additional modules for the software are available that we might choose to license in the future?
33. What products are available to users who have outgrown this product?
34. Should we choose to go with another product at some point, do we own all of our data (especially important with cloud solutions) and how difficult is it to port our data from this system?
35. Does the software provide an API for integrating 3rd party add-ons?

Measuring Results
36. How do we measure the overall ROI your software will provide?
37. What are the top tangible benefits we should see with your software?
38. Which tasks that the software supports can be quantifiably measured for increased efficiency?
39. What KPI’s are best for monitoring increased revenue resulting from improved software functionality?
40. What qualitative business management improvements should we monitoring to gauge the impact of your software in tougher to quantify areas?

Author Bio
Adam Bluemner is the Project Specialist Manager for FindAccountingSoftware.com, a service providing free software selection assistance.  Over the last decade Adam has spoken with over 10,000 companies, helping them achieve business success through intelligent software investment.  Adam writes extensively on ERP and business software.
Website: FindAccountingSoftware.com
Twitter: @FindMySoftware
LinkedIn: Adam Bluemner

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One Response to “ 40 Powerful Questions to Ask ERP Providers ”

  1. Adam Bluemner on December 11, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Richard’s point is an excellent one! The only problem I have with it is that I didn’t think to include it in the original list. ;)

    Asking about an SLA is critical because it is really the main source of leverage to hold a provider accountable to their answers to every other question.

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