So after months of research, phone calls and emails you’ve finally settled on an ERP solution for your growing business. ERP vendor selection can be a cumbersome task but you found one that seems to have all the functionality you were looking for and is within the approved budget. Let’s say implementation went well, training was simple and everyone is happy with how the system is working. A couple of months has gone by and all of a sudden, your sales team has run into an issue and although training was simple, no one on your team recalls this issue being a topic of discussion and no training documents were provided. Now, it’s time to make that phone call for support.
You may have thought that support was important but not so important to spend some extra money on it. This is a common mistake businesses make when conducting their ERP vendor selection and eventually hurts them in the long run. So, we all know how these support phone calls usually go. You’re likely waiting a long time for someone to answer the phone, the employee who does answer has no idea who you or your business are and ultimately it takes forever to get your issue resolved. But, it doesn’t always have to be this way. There are ERP vendors out there that do provide the kind of service that makes you feel like you’re a priority. When conducting your software vendor selection keep in mind these few areas of support that you will eventually need.
Support starts with how well your ERP vendor trains your staff on the new system and processes. A lot of people don’t like change so it can take some convincing to get an entire team on board. Depending on the size of the implementation and migration you could be dealing with 1-2 consultants, and this is your chance to learn anything and everything about the system. It would, however, be impossible to remember absolutely everything so check to see if your consultants can be contacted after the initial implementation. Your consultant should have your implementation as their main task for a set amount of time and will eventually know your business inside out just like they know the software.
Technology is not perfect so sometimes there will be a need to reach out to the Help Desk for technical assistance, help in diagnosing software issues, or asking questions related to the software (ex. troubleshooting). Help Desk should be able to resolve your issue in 24-48 hours but you may also be able to find your answers through an online help desk website that is only accessible to the vendors’ customers.
In some cases, if you’re a company in a large industry you may be using the chosen software as it comes without the need for any customizations or additional features. For businesses in industries like these, it is easy to work with the big goliaths of the ERP world because you won’t require that one-on-one relationship. On the flip side, if you’re a business in a niche industry you may need additional functionality that is otherwise not necessary for other industries. This can likely be done with big and small ERP vendors but what you will want to evaluate is the time and effort put into your customization. You’ll want to ensure it is done correctly and works with your processes. A small company will understand the importance of the customization and will focus on ensuring it works seamlessly for you, while a large vendor may not see it worthwhile to spend so much time on one customers’ customization.
External vs Internal Support
Large organizations may have the means to offer 24/7 support but may vary in their ability to provide personalized support. This is because sometimes they outsource to an international office in order to accommodate the all-day access. On the other hand small-medium sized organizations have all their support in-house and can offer personalized conversations by actually matching the same consultant who assisted with the company’s initial implementation. This way, the consultant is already familiar with your company and processes and you won’t have to explain to a new person who your company is and the issue at hand. Another great thing about small-medium sized vendors is that they will take the time to follow up with your company every couple of months to see how you’re doing and check-in.
You may have noticed a common theme amongst the types of support listed above and it’s the importance of B2B relationship building. Whether you’ve decided to select an ERP vendor who is big or small, you want the kind of support that helps you fix the issue instead of adding more stress to your plate. During your ERP vendor selection process, it’s a smart idea to question them about their support services and it’s likely going to help you in the long run to spend the extra cash.