As an independent ERP Consultant in Manchester, we have written many blog posts about how to select an Enterprise Resource Planning system looking at it from a technology and functionality point of view. However, one of the most important steps in the ERP selection process is checking the references of your chosen ERP partner, by speaking to or visiting a reference site.

However, it is important to remember that a reference site can’t help you with assessing whether the system will do what you need it to do – unless you have something specific you need to see in action that the supplier can’t show in a sales demonstration.  An ERP reference site also won’t give you a totally unbiased view of the supplier, as suppliers will tend to not use particular reference sites if the site has had a bad experience and were unhappy with the level of service from them.

The best way to use a reference site is in the final stage of the selection process when you, assisted by your chosen independent ERP consultant, have narrowed down your choices to just one or two systems. The things that you can learn from a reference site can help you to finalise which system and supplier to go for.

Ideally, what we really want are reference sites that are in a similar industry to our client, are of a similar size, have a similar customer base and are geographically located in a similar area to our client – in order to get the best comparison.  We start by asking some questions of the reference site in order to understand how similar they are to our client’s situation. Our years of experience have taught us that although reference sites may look similar to our client on the surface, they may turn out to be quite different once you start digging – so we always ask suppliers to provide 3 reference sites similar to our client.

We have a checklist of questions that we go through when talking to a reference site. These include questions about the company, what parts of the software they are using, the technical environment they are working in, how they have found the support they received from the supplier – both during the implementation process and when they were up and running, and other general questions as well. This is to ensure we have all the information we need to ensure that the solution our client picks is the right solution for them.

As we said at the beginning, system functionality is key to determining whether a solution is right for your organisation or not, but the ERP selection process doesn’t end there. Finding out the vendor’s customers’ experiences after the sale is crucial to the success of your implementation and so should be conducted with as much diligence as the rest of the process. The only way you can discover what to expect from your chosen vendor after the sale is to talk to existing users, and this will help ensure you have made the right decision in the long-term.

To find out more about ERP reference sites, and how we go about finding the right solution for our clients please give us a call on 0843 523 5630 or send us an email to [email protected]