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10 Apr 2018
How to Get Your Sales Team to Use Your CRM System

Five steps to implementing a Business Intelligence strategy

How to Get Your Sales Team to Use Your CRM System

Business Intelligence (BI) is becoming increasingly important for organizations of all sizes: it provides real-time insight into a company’s data, ensuring that growth and savings opportunities are not missed. Large quantities of information provide valuable information that companies can use to make better decisions, improve productivity and boost revenues.

In short, it simply costs too much not to have good BI.

But adoption can be a challenge for any organization. While many companies see it as crucial to their future success, they also struggle to implement it. Indeed, recent research by sales-i revealed that 9 out of 10 B2B companies were in this exact position.

Choosing the right tool, investing in the right training, ensuring the right deployment and increasing user adoption are all common challenges that are easily overcome with the right strategy.

So how can your organization take full advantage of the benefits as soon as possible? Here are five essential steps to follow when implementing a BI tool.

1. Keep it clean

The very first thing to do if you want to implement BI successfully is to make sure your databases are clean and accurate.

Start by removing old and irrelevant records on a regular basis. Get into this habit before you implement BI, and you’ll benefit from it sooner.

You should also know exactly where you get your data from. Focus on prioritizing information produced within your business. Data from other sources can be unreliable, so the more you generate in-house, the better.

Finally, establish specific data entry processes across your organization. By having these processes in place, you will reduce the risk of inconsistencies and missing information, ensuring your data is cleaner.

2. Build a long-term BI roadmap

When implementing BI, you will need to develop a clear roadmap that is comprehensive and on that your entire business can follow.

So, what does a roadmap need to include? First of all, you need to carefully assess your current situation. By analyzing your current setup and the processes around it, you can figure out what is working, what to keep and what you want to get rid of. You can then work out how you can integrate essential processes into your new strategy.

You must also have a clear idea of the technology and IT infrastructure you will need to put in place to facilitate the correct use of BI.

Besides this, understand who will have a stake in BI in your organization. You need to know what their objectives are and how they will achieve these to ensure effective implementation.

3. Empower your team to be data-driven

You should encourage your team members to make decisions based on real insights rather than instinct. This will involve providing them with the training they need to make the most of BI.

Additionally, your team will inevitably have concerns about adopting BI, and you will need to understand what these are. Listen to their concerns, then explain to them how it will benefit them in their specific roles. You need to have them on board, and they are more likely to be enthusiastic if they can understand the benefits.

4. Consider your integration options

You will want to maximize efficiency, and to do this you should have a clear idea about how BI will integrate with your existing IT infrastructure.

For example, an integration with your ERP system could unlock many data opportunities. The right software could pull data from different ERP modules like financial models or HR modules and then analyze them to provide useful insights. When processes are more connected, efficiency improves.

5. Monitor and evaluate

Finally, constantly monitor and evaluate your BI software to ensure that you are using it to its full capacity. Identify KPIs early on and use these measurable values to work out how effectively you are achieving your objectives and where you need to make improvements.

Keep reports to demonstrate the positive impact BI is having on your organization, and this will also help to encourage greater adoption.

Plan carefully to adopt BI effectively

These are the steps you need to follow to implement BI effectively in your organization. They are crucial for companies of all sizes, so the sooner you start creating a plan for implementation, the sooner you’ll be able to take full advantage of the benefits of BI.

9 Apr 2018
Scheduling with CRM

Select a Cloud CRM Solution in Three Tips

Businesses are constantly searching for technology solutions that deliver greater productivity and flexibility. One core platform many of them have invested in to date is customer relationship management (CRM). And, as with other business applications, it is increasingly transitioning to the cloud. According to SuperOffice, only 12 percent of businesses used cloud CRM in 2008. Now, 10 years later, that figure stands at a whopping 87 percent. If your business is considering a cloud CRM solution, you’re in good company. Here’s what you need to know to choose the cloud CRM solution that’s right for you.

1.Clear Goals for Your Cloud CRM Solution

As with any technology, you must first be clear on what you want to get out of your cloud CRM solution to make sure that it delivers on your expectations. Any business that’s contemplating a cloud CRM solution should know exactly why it needs one. Why? Simply put, because there are a lot of options out there today—including CRM for specific verticals. In addition, vendors and implementation consultants need to know what you’re looking for to be able to effectively advise you on how best to achieve your goals.

For example, some cloud CRM options only support sales, while others facilitate both sales and marketing. If your business has unique workflows that are different from those found in the average company, then you will need to be sure that the solution you’re contemplating either accommodates them or improves upon them. With that in mind, your business should devote some time and careful thought to defining its requirements for a cloud CRM solution well in advance of making a choice. With a checklist of priorities in hand, you can have much more meaningful conversations with cloud CRM vendors about whether or not their solutions are right for you.

2. Make Sure Your Cloud CRM Solution Can Grow with You

It’s natural, when defining requirements for a cloud CRM solution, to think strictly in terms of the here and now: What do I need it to do today? What are my most burning needs? But, don’t forget that one of the chief strategic benefits a cloud CRM solution offers is scalability. In addition to near-term concerns, be sure to think ahead toward where your business will be in the future and how you will need your cloud CRM solution to support it down the line. For example, will your cloud CRM solution provide the mobility and integration with other business applications that you’ll need? Will it offer attractive pricing options that allow you to hire more staff and expand your operations with ease? Are there other, specific features and functionality you anticipate needing later? Make sure to explore whether or not the cloud CRM solution you’re evaluating will support these requirements, as well.

3.Be Certain That Your Vendor Provides Strong Support

As any experienced IT professional knows, finding the right technology is only half the battle. The success of your implementation also depends on your vendor’s expertise and the quality of support it provides. If you partner with a cloud CRM vendor that doesn’t have a strong bench of experienced specialists who can guide you in implementing your CRM, the burden will fall to your team—and it could ultimately compromise the success of your initiative. Whether you’re working directly with a vendor or a consultant possessing subject matter expertise, be sure to ask him or her detailed questions about how projects are managed and what you can expect from the relationship. Also ask for references from past clients that are similar to you. Those references should ideally give you unvarnished insight into the vendor’s strengths and weaknesses so that you can make an informed decision.

Cloud CRM offers many powerful benefits, but businesses can only fully take advantage of them if they do their due diligence beforehand. By clarifying what you’re looking for in a cloud CRM solution, anticipating requirements you may have, and carefully evaluating the vendor to make sure it’s capable of providing the support you need, your company can go a long way toward ensuring that it picks the right cloud CRM solution.

5 Apr 2018
Scheduling with CRM

FIve Reasons Why the Future of CRM Includes Bots

Looking into the future of customer relationship management (CRM), it’s difficult not to see artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots transforming these platforms and enabling sales and marketing teams to better respond to their customers. Some may question the humanity of CRM chatbots, but there’s no denying that opening up CRM data by using innovative tools helps speed the sales cycle. Here are five reasons why the future of CRM includes bots.

1. Enable Bot-to-Bot Scheduling Across Your Teams

Imagine a chatbot scheduling agent integrated into a CRM solution enabling sales people to schedule the appropriate staff from sales, engineering, customer success, and other departments to start a new customer project or even to provide deal support, such as technical meetings or product demos. Such a chatbot will likely call another bot that uses AI to initiate a messaging stream combined with calendar access in an effort to find open time on multiple calendars

2. Promote Self-service CRM

One goal of any CRM solution internally is to make prospective and current customer information accessible to appropriate employees at all levels of your organization. To top it off, you want to ensure that the access requires a bare minimum of IT or other human intervention.

A chatbot as part of the front-end user interface of a CRM solution enables users of all skill levels to access customer data and reporting through interactivity, such as asking natural language questions. For example, questions like “Who are the chief information officers of our biggest customers?” save users time because they don’t have to search or even spend that much time in the application.

3. Automate Customer Support Services

Too many CRM systems aren’t user friendly, slowing inside sales and customer agents’ responses to customers. To solve these problems, you can automate many parts of your customer support services by allowing chatbots to field questions in place of customer support operators, according to rubygarage.org.

The automation of customer support services helps reduce training time and costs for call center staff and even inside salespeople, both of which can be transitory positions. Besides putting a chatbot in front of an aging CRM system can help you extend the life of your current platform before you can spare the time, money, and resources to migrate to a cloud CRM solution.

4. Improve Lead Scoring

Better lead scoring of CRM records from outside sources, such as email and other back-office systems, is but one frontier confronting AI in the CRM world. Vendors are rushing to improve chatbots before customers tire of their still somewhat unreliable self-service experiences and rudimentary CRM tools.

Chatbots improving lead scoring is an area to watch in next-generation CRM platforms because automating such an important task can at least help augment a task traditionally performed by sales management or just more experienced salespeople.

5. Stave off Data Loss by Field Sales

Sales people work in a mobile world, meaning that entering customer data into mobile CRM apps inadvertently causes data loss. Integration of a chatbot into your CRM system can help solve this issue.

4 Apr 2018
4 Reasons Why the Future of CRM is Multichannel

Nurture Customer Relationships Using CRM

The information sitting in your customer relationship management (CRM) software contains a goldmine of tangible data that you can use to nurture customers into lifelong partners. Unfortunately, too many organizations focus on CRM data during the pre-sale phase of the customer life cycle. Relegated to being a prospecting tool, sales teams often view CRM as hungry monsters that they must feed data to continuously. The result is missed opportunities to make connections with customers that can generate not only repeat business but new sales from referrals.

The Power of Emotions to Build Customer Connections

Research reported in the Harvard Business Review points to the value of fostering deeper connections with customers through “relationship intelligence,” using data from CRM systems to gather cues about the emotional reasons customers have chosen your brand. Emotional intelligence carries far more leverage than financial, bottom-line service levels. In a study by Seo and Barrett, the emotions of 101 stock traders were tracked; the research found that those who experienced the strongest emotions had higher investment returns. The reason is that emotions help us to prioritize facts and data so that we can make better choices.

CRM systems are full of data gathered from summaries of sales calls, social media posts, emails, and chat sessions with customer service teams. This vast intelligence is rarely used to its full potential. When CRM data are used beyond the prospecting stage, that use is often limited to drip marketing campaigns that push out promotions according to a set, prescheduled marketing calendar.

Gathering Relational Intelligence

Scheduled marketing campaigns are, without a doubt, a good use of CRM data, but as Peter Drucker said, “The aim of marketing is to know the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.” You can use CRM data to go deeper and discover the emotional bonds you have with your customers—and then create your planned attack with drip marketing.

So, how can you use CRM data to understand and employ customer information to build stronger relationships? The tools can include surveys to dig deeper during customer interactions; the key is to ask the right questions. The opportunities to learn more about customers can come from multiple sources:

· During prospecting, record the key challenges each customer faces and where their priorities are.
· Encourage customers to post pictures of themselves using your product on social media to learn how your products and services change and enhance their life.
· Track the keywords prospects use when searching for information that leads to your website.
· Continually ask customers for feedback.
· Pay attention to the reasons customers call for service.
· Monitor the social media channels where they are engaged.

The key is never to stop learning about your customer and to keep the channels of communication open so that you can collect information about your customer and are intentional about using this information.

Putting CRM Data to Work

You can put this knowledge to use by determining which relationships offer the greatest value and why. When you understand your customers, grouping them in segments based on why they choose to buy from you, you can begin to use CRM to build consistent, creative communications that strengthen this bond.

CRM systems can gather data and analytics tools provide the ability to analyze these data, but you still need humans to make the connections with customers. The clear message is to extend CRM data beyond the sales team, past the prospecting phase, and to share CRM insights with the marketing, public relations, and customer service teams as well as executives. Information is power. Use CRM data to help empower everyone to create a customer-focused organization.

Source:it.toolbox.com

2 Apr 2018
download

Top Five New Mobile App Development Tools

For the creative developer, apps provide some of the most exciting opportunities in today’s rapidly evolving IT playing field. With open source development fueling the engine for even greater innovation and versatility, today’s apps are the precursor to a future world of limitless possibilities, enabled by cutting-edge development tools.

Fortunately for developers, consumer demand seems to be virtually insatiable. By March 2017, the world’s two leading app stores had more than five million available apps; specifically, Google Play with 2.8 million, and Apple with 2.2 million. Likewise, by 2020, mobile apps are predicted to generate $188.9 billion in revenues through in-app ads and app store purchases.

Added to this, recent statistics tell us that 95 percent of Americans own some type of cell phone, and 77 percent of these are app-capable Smartphones. Likewise, Americans are spending an average of three hours and 23 minutes of their Internet browsing time per day on apps.

With numbers like these, it’s no wonder that the market continues to be flooded with the rapid emergence of cutting-edge app development tools. Here are five of the latest and greatest, some free and open source with no coding needed, others requiring code and offering more custom functionality than ever before.

1. Appcelerator

Appcelerator is a one-stop shop for app builders, thanks to its amazing versatility. It offers more than 5,000 APIs for Windows, iOS, Android, HTML5 and BlackBerry. Working from a single JavaScript code base, Appcelerator creates apps that can run native on OS and any type of device. Extremely user-friendly for developers, Appcelerator provides pre-integrated cloud services so that you can test and compare during the creative process. In addition, it provides handy app usage analytics so that you can monitor adoption and usage, tweak performance, and detect crashes immediately. This versatility, coupled with real-time analytics features, makes Appcelerator a powerhouse tool for app builders and developers.

2. BuildFire

One of the greatest strengths of BuildFire is its versatility. It not only supports iOS and Android phones and tablets, it also has more than 45 plugins and pre-existing templates that you can build upon, as well as integrations to other customization/data services like Segment. It’s equally effective in building apps for media/entertainment content, corporate/business use, education, commerce and event promotion. It also claims to provide unlimited customization features so that the only limits are in the developer’s imagination.

One of its biggest selling points is ease and speed of usage. Enthusiasts say that you can build and launch your app in less than 30 minutes using only three steps. If you’re not a tech guru, no worries: BuildFire offers comprehensive tech support to walk you through the development process.

3. Mobile Roadie

Mobile Roadie, like the best of today’s app development tools, offers a multitude of solutions and features coupled with a sophisticated versatility. Equally user-friendly with iOS and Android, Mobile Roadie provides advanced media platforms for photo/audio/video usage, as well as platforms for live feed news posts, up-to-date event info and a realtime fan wall. You can also add extra features such as menus, a QR scanner, speakers, a store, a mailing list, links, shortcuts, image banners and a host of other extras. In addition, Mobile Roadie also offers app organization and user analytics features, plus marketing strategy and content entry services to help you launch your app into a waiting world.

4. Xamarin

Xamarin is Microsoft’s entry into the app development field, and it has proven to be another versatile and user-friendly player by allowing builders to use existing code and skills. Xamarin utilizes a C# codebase tool to produce native apps for Windows, Android and iOS, and it allows multi-platform code sharing for greater ease of usage, plus versatility. This means that you can use the same language, IDE and APIs across the board. In addition, you can distribute your newly created app to beta testers/users on iOS, Windows and Mac OS on demand.

Xamarin also provides cloud service, so that you can automate UI tests on thousands of devices, using hundreds of configurations. In addition, it offers an interactive dashboard that provides real-time usage and performance analytics.

5. The AppBuilder

It’s always interesting to discover new app tools created for specific industries, and The AppBuilder was designed to fill a specialized industry need. This innovative tool, which facilitates the creation of HR, employee and staff apps, has already been implemented by corporate entities as varied as London’s Heathrow Airport, VISA and Michelin.

TheAppBuilder creates apps that can provide real-time schedules and updates for employees, facilitate communications between departments, and organize HR data so that it’s immediately accessible. TheAppBuilder provides one-on-one online training and support, data hosting, security and live Google Analytics performance data, and posts everything under your own brand, graphics and imagery.

As the entire app ecosystem continues to grow and expand, developers are looking for tools that can make their apps more versatile and adaptable. Likewise, by mitigating the need for developers to learn extensive code, the best of today’s app development tools are paving the way for builders to create apps even more quickly — in some instances, within minutes — and effectively.

30 Mar 2018
download-3

Threat Detection and Response Market Balloon with Mobility Risks

download-3

Hosted managed detection and response (MDR) is expected to see major growth over the next five years, in part due to increased use of enterprise mobility within the SME market, both in the United States and globally.

Hosted MDR service vendors remotely monitor and manage an organization’s cyberinfrastructure and do not depend on customer premises equipment. They are playing a more critical role as cyber threats are transferring from a company’s core infrastructure to weaker links created by mobile device use.

Globally, the market is conservatively projected to grow from $419 million this year to an estimated $1.6 billion by 2022, which may well be a lowball estimate given the explosion in using mobile devices for work.

The hosted MDR deployment segment will likely experience the greatest lift as it enables efficient protection against a wide range of threats, including malware, phishing, ransomware and cyber threats.

Increased instances of cyberattacks, imminent government regulations and need for compliance are expected to explode the demand for MDR services. The emergence and increased presence of the Internet of Things (IoT) is also a driver.

Nearly 25% of US companies already have experienced some form of ransomware attack, and nearly one in eight reports that this has involved IoT. These failures are a direct result of mid-market companies that are scaling up on their IoT and mobility strategies while lacking security tools.

Alongside mobile devices, IoT hardware including printers, scanners, key locks and industrial controls systems software are vulnerable.

Lack of trust in third party applications and an absence of shared technology could, however, work against the growth in this market. In addition, IT staff at larger organizations lack adequate training on threats outside the immediate computer hardware environment.

Demand for MDR will be highest in the US and Canada as a result of the wider adoption of web-based applications and IoT across various business operations. Leading providers in this area include Arctic Wolf Networks, CrowdStrike, eSentire, FireEye, IBM and NetWorks Group.

Outsourced solutions increasingly are an option for municipalities as well. Arctic Wolf Networks was recently retained to by the city of Sparks, Nevada, to provide it with security operations center (SOC) as a service. This has seen the deployment of an AI-based threat detection system that encompasses the activities of city personnel, including firemen and police officers.

AI is going to play a key role in helping firms to police threats within the enterprise mobility and BYOD area of their operations. Machine learning is already being rolled out and is set to change cyber-security across the board.

A possible role beyond the immediate demand of threat detection is the provision of physical tracking and security access to locations. Mobile devices can be integrated into an AI-managed framework that can replace the need for key cards and security passes by operating from portable devices.

29 Mar 2018
Improve CRM User Engagement

Best CRM Features for the Hospitality Industry

n the hospitality industry, customer satisfaction is top priority. Companies rely on feedback to determine the success of a product or service and to indicate areas that need improvement. Customer relationship management (CRM) software helps hospitality businesses with tasks, services, and business processes related to customer relations, increasing customer satisfaction, and their likelihood of success.

There’s more to the hospitality industry than pricing, quality, and availability, however. These elements may be the core customer services, but many other factors exist, as well. CRM features and tools customized to the hospitality industry include:

· Data collection,

· Maintenance tracking,

· Interactive platforms,

· Mobile access and

· Travel agency partnerships.

An essential tool in the hospitality industry, CRM helps companies meet and exceed customer expectations by enabling them to create and build real relationships with their clientele as well as provide what their customers want and need.

Data Acquisition and Collection

By using CRM software for data acquisition and collection, companies can learn more about their customers, and then use that information to build better relationships. Examples of data companies can use their CRM software to collect include:

· Mailing address,

· Email address,

· Names and information about family members,

· Occupation,

· Interests,

· Prior travel and vacations,

· Preferences for restaurants, spas, etc.

· Special room accommodations and

· Meal and drink preferences and restrictions.

Using the data collected, staff can increase the level of customer satisfaction by creating a more personalized guest experience.

Maintenance Tracking

If a customer isn’t happy with his or her service, amenity, or product, that customer is less likely to post a good review or return. Hospitality-specific CRM solutions enable companies to monitor, track, and maintain all aspects of facility maintenance. Tasks can be listed by priority or due date, and staff can rearrange tasks as needed. In addition, the CRM app helps management and staff stay in touch, even when communicating from different locations.

Interactive Customer Platform

Hospitality-specific CRM software enables customers to interact with locations days, even months before their planned arrival date. With an interactive customer platform, companies can offer pre–check-in questionnaires, mobile check-in, confirmation emails, and more. These interactive platforms also give guests the option to make any changes to their reservations, such as amenity requests, upgrades, or special requirements for dietary or physical needs.

Mobile Access

In the hospitality industry, both staff and guests have access to and use mobile devices regularly. Doesn’t it make sense to take advantage of this desire for mobility? Integrating mobile access apps with your CRM software helps make communications between staff and guests more efficient and immediate. Requests can be sent by text, voice, or even video messaging. By adding the option of mobile access, staff can address guest needs and issues quickly and on the go, freeing them from the front desk.

Online Travel Agency Collaboration

Using online travel agencies (OTAs), guests can now easily book their own rooms—and save money doing it. OTAs have the ability to compare prices, check availability, and take advantage of loyalty programs. Through their CRM software and online applications, businesses in the hospitality industry can collaborate with OTAs, integrating with local agencies and online partners and opening their location to a new market of potential customers.

By using the best CRM tools for the hospitality industry, businesses increase the likelihood of true customer satisfaction and customer loyalty—two indicators of success in the hospitality industry.

27 Mar 2018
brightspotcdn-com

Seven Frequently Asked Questions About Mobile App Vulnerabilities

brightspotcdn-com

Mobile app developers have to release apps as quickly as possible. The time to market is so short that they often do not have time to check for security flaws.

Even when there is time, developers may not have the necessary resources to fix bugs.

That may be why, according to the 2016 NowSecure Mobile Security Report, business devices are times more likely to leak login credentials than other mobile devices. This brief article answers some of the frequently asked questions to start improving your app security.

1. What type of mobile app vulnerability is the highest risk?

The worst vulnerability is the one you don’t know about.

Next to that, however, lack of encryption in network communication is a serious issue. Clear text communication to network hosts exposes all data, including login credentials. Once that is exposed, everything else is exposed.

2. An app security consultant tested my new application and found no problems. What are the odds that a new app is flawless?

It’s probable the tester didn’t test hard enough or deeply enough. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with the source code, but login data is unencrypted, for example. It’s usually fairly easy to find a flaw that enables a bad actor.

Bottom line: keep testing for vulnerabilities. Automated tools are nice, but they can’t (yet) replace human searches for security weaknesses.

3. How do I choose the best security tools?

The first step is to ask colleagues and partners. See what people are talking about. Once you have a list, get trial licenses from multiple vendors. These are usually available for free or cheap. While you need to keep within your budget, you also need a tool that does more than simply tests the app’s function.

The best solutions will test source code, network communication, web access, forensics, and other areas. Consult with a person or company who has experience in dozens of security analysis tools to verify your app’s security.

4. What do you do if your third party mobile app developer doesn’t do its own testing and won’t share the source code with you?

Find a different third party app developer. If a vendor won’t do its own testing and won’t let you do the testing, that’s a red flag. It may not want to acknowledge security flaws so it doesn’t have to deal with them. Remember that a third party developer still has your name on it — not the developer’s — and you will be held accountable for problems.

5. Should my app developers go for security training?

Absolutely. Training is one of the core challenges of app security. Developers aren’t security experts and do not necessarily have the tools they need to make prevent app vulnerabilities from sneaking in. Learning about threat modeling, defining specific security requirements, and identifying how bad actors exploit vulnerabilities can help set them up for success.

OWASP (owasp.org) is probably the best developer training resource available today. YouTube also has a number of useful tutorials.

6. Should I do traditional app vulnerability testing or focus on source code analysis?

It’s important not to rely on a single angle. Different security analysis tools find different things. Source code analysis is a good start, but vulnerabilities often “live” elsewhere in the app. It’s best to look at the application from every possible perspective.

If budget is a consideration, consider staggering vulnerability testing. For example, you may analyze source code one quarter and review the app itself in the next.

7. What are some hard numbers I should measure to test the security of my application?

In general, you should measure vulnerabilities as you uncover them. They may be classified into one of several categories. These will tell you what aspects of your application are at the most risk from bad actors and other weaknesses. One list of these categories includes:

  • Initial vulnerabilities
  • Repeat vulnerabilities
  • Remediation latency
  • Exploitable vulnerabilities
  • Vulnerabilities that go against best practices
  • Vulnerabilities that are being sought after (based on your log files)
26 Mar 2018
erp-success

Three key phases for a successful ERP projects

erp-success

ERP projects have never been easy, but they are becoming more complicated as the market for offerings matures. Increasingly, companies are tackling a blend of on-premises and cloud environments and the expectations of customers about what an ERP project should cover are only getting more extensive.

So how to go about choosing a vendor? Ultimately, that choice depends heavily on the range and depth of the requirements that a company draws for its ERP. The range can speak to the extensibility of a solution platform, while the depth represents the ability of the ERP project to satisfy industry-specific or unique requirements.

The right partner is also critical for making or breaking an implementation. It can also shorten a sponsor’s tenure at an organization.

An ERP project typically falls into three distinct phases:

The launching of the project requires the collection of requirements: A firm needs to build some understanding of the ERP marketplace and assess organizational and project readiness for ERP selection. It can be useful to align the organization’s use-case fit with market use cases. Project managers should collect, prioritize and document any ERP needs before creating the ERP RFP.

The actual selection of the ERP solution will involve a review of the market leaders, plus the players aligned with the use case. The project team should review vendor profiles and short-listed vendors based upon organization fit. Following that, the buyer can submit its RFP to short listed vendors, evaluate vendor responses and develop vendor demonstration scripts. Vendors should be scored prior to the selection of the final product.

The third phase involves the actual implementation, and that will require an ERP road map and resourcing plan, plus the re-engineering of ERP processes and the writing of design system workflows. It can be useful to develop an integration map and user roles. Project teams should create a comprehensive communication and change management plan and establish an ERP governance structure along with roles and responsibilities. It is also important to determine project and performance metrics to measure and track success.

Key Takeaways:

  • ERP implementation can frequently represent large and challenging projects for IT teams.
  • Plenty of forward planning can be an asset for IT teams and business units going into the selection or early implementation of an ERP project.
  • It is worth investing some time and money into understanding the current ERP market, including product-centric and use-centric ERP use-case scenarios.
23 Mar 2018
erp-software

How to Compare ERP Vendors and Their Products

Shopping for a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system isn’t easy. In fact, it may be the corporate equivalent of going to the dentist. The process is uncomfortable, but put it off too long, and small issues can turn into big, painful problems. So many options are available from so many vendors that it’s overwhelming to companies that look at ERP systems only once every 10 years.

Each software vendor has functions and modules that you can mix and match in different ways to meet your organization’s specific needs. That’s why companies need an evaluation process to help them compare offerings.

Architecture

In the past, companies typically chose the server operating system and database before they even looked at software. Now, the bigger early decision is cloud or on premises, and this decision guides which ERP vendors you want to approach. It also guides how you build your request for proposal questions and determine areas for evaluation. Vendor responses enable you to determine your budget for the costs of ERP.

You must also construct costing models for several differing time periods. Locking in prices years in advanced is great if it’s an option, but vendors will guarantee a price more than a few years out.

Price

Next, gather estimated pricing as early as possible. This approach is more common than it used to be because so many smaller cloud companies advertise pricing. Nevertheless, most ERP vendors are still reticent to give details until they make a formal proposal.

Get an estimate—whether it’s based on cost per user or estimated enterprise cost—to rule out unlikely vendors. Some vendors might be too expensive; others may be too cheap, indicating an inability to customize or tailor their product to your organization’s needs. Price may also be a proxy for experience as newer entrants tend to charge less than well-known, long-standing vendors.

Experience

Experience can cut both ways. Some vendors might be able and willing to create a version of their software specific to your niche. Others will try to shoehorn their generic installation into every situation.

Customized may sound good, but it comes with risks. Adapting your processes to the proven software may be the way to go: This is part of the comparison process.

Modularity

Another dimension to examine is how unified the ERP vendor’s offering truly is. Some vendors have developed all the components themselves. They might sell everything all at once with few options. This approach is particularly common with cloud vendors, which want everyone to use the same version with the same options to minimize their support issues.

Other vendors may try to craft a solution by using different modules tailored to your needs. This approach could result in a reduced cost and streamlined installation because they can deploy only a subset of functions. It also might make future expansion and purchases of extensions necessary.

Still other vendors—typically, larger ones—have acquired competitors over time. Different modules to them may come from different original sources and have different ways of working.

Reputation and Support

Don’t forget to examine the support options, including ongoing training, because your personnel will need training. This also goes to how as a company you like to deliver training—in person, online, train the trainer, short videos, and so on.

How do most customers report issues? What is the vendor’s response time? Are there limits on the number of support hours? The answers vary widely among ERP vendors. In addition, try to network in various trade groups people in your company belong to to find real people who have real experience with the ERP vendor’s support. That is a great way to get real opinions and even some anecdotes to ask the vendor about.