Beware Experts

By Mark Richards posted 16 days ago

  
You receive an email that offers you a free “White Paper” on the Top ways to ensure ERP success.  No company names, just some innocuous non-specific wording that helps imply that the article is “neutral” and thus qualified.   You fill in your company and contact information and then you are allowed to download or are emailed this “fact filled” expert’s information.   The trouble is it is not always facts but often opinions, and it’s not natural at all, but rather from a firm that wants you business.   Their hope is to establish credibility with you based on the free information provided.  Next they contact you to meet and show you their “perfect fit” product and services.  The reality is they are no different than every other firm out there vying for you business.  Some simply try to soft talk you and others out right use deception. 

White Paper Allure
The White paper may in fact offer up some good insights, it may have even been written by someone who is an expert, but it has been placed in your hands not merely as information but as a carefully orchestrated marketing ploy to sell you on the firm providing it.  There is nothing inherently wrong with this tactic, its not illegal, but it is very suspect for sure.  The facts from the expert do not necessarily go hand in hand with what this vendor is attempting to convey.
Most importantly until someone learns about your firm and its needs they cannot possibly know if a product, service or search and implementation methodology is a good fit for you and your needs.
Be cautious and be wary of these ploys.  Use all the information you can gather and then sort through it with your team.  In the end no one has all the answers or knows your business and what is going to make your bottom line better.  Anyone who suggests this is simply deceiving you.

Consultant Experts
Many firms do not have the time, talent or expertise to undertake an EFP search and review.  The most logical course may be to hire a consultant to lead the effort.  This can work well, however, check out the consultant to ensure they don’t also sell ERP software as that is a real conflict of interest.  Next make sure they have done this many times and if possible they should have experience in your industry.  This is not always possible so make sure your ensure they truly understand your industry by how they ask you and your team questions.  Generally speaking CPA consultants from Big 4 accounting firms are not your best choice and should be avoided.  These firms almost always have divisions that sell and implement ERP products and guide you toward their selection of choice instead of what is best for your firm.

Implementation Experts
ERP firms have had challenges in the past several years staffing up to meet all the technical challenges that ERP systems have thrust upon them.  Ask potential implementation firms to provide a list of the people who will be assigned to your site and a bio on each of them.  Check their qualifications, how many implementations have they delivered and to who.  Call their clients and ask about the projects.  Make sure you are told if they are employees or consults on loan. 
Many firms will say they can’t provide this information until they assign the project.  You need to push back and tell them you cannot sign a contract until you know who will be delivering services to you.  If they are local try to meet as many as you can, especially the lead Project Manager.  Go to their offices and check them out.  This is a critical project for you and should be given as much advance review as you can afford.
Be suspect, be careful and above all else take your time.  Do not fall into the common traps of rushing to meet some artificial deadline or some discount that is offered if you purchase before a certain date.  These are tools used against you to close the sale.  A reputable firm will understand your need to move cautiously and verify.

Good luck.
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