For the business seeking opportunities to boost their growth, ERP software can be a great way to solve the task. However, there are too many ERP solutions nowadays, which makes it hard to choose the right tool to use. So, companies have to conduct analysis, send RFPs (requests for proposals) to vendors and their partners, etc.

An excellent ERP implementation proposal can be a critical success element for the whole project. Since 60% of ERP projects are categorized as a failure, the better the job at the first stage is done, the better the outcome will be. Today we will talk about preparing an effective business proposal for an ERP system implementation.

How to sell ERP software: preparation

ERP solution is a complicated and often costly business tool that can either deliver great results or devour resources and set the business behind its competitors. The main difference between a successful and failed implementation project usually is in the amount and the quality of data collected at the preparation stage.

ERP vendors partners selling the solution should determine priorities, understand the business' challenges, and act upon this information when proposing solutions and design choices. Basically, here is the list of things you'll need to go through:

  • Project scope. Here you'll need to understand any restrictions (either organizational or geographical), the need to migrate the data, what features for what business processes the solution should have, describe the solution's architecture, and the infrastructure needed to support it.

  • Implementation methodology. Choosing the approach that is optimal for the client, from traditional to fast implementation.

  • Business application deployment strategy. Common options include a one-time or phased solution rollout and commissioning.

  • Resource allocation for the project. You will need to research and describe all issues related to building the project team and the project office.

  • Scope of work of the project implementation support partner. One of the critical elements of the implementation process is the correct responsibility distribution. Decide what parts you as a partner and the customer will be responsible for, who precisely from the teams will own these specific parts of work.

Here are six steps you will need to go through to identify key pain points and collect all the data for selling ERP software.

Step #0: Business assessment

It is crucial to understand what industry the business is working in, what geography is, are there any unique business processes or peculiarities in the legislation that should be supported.

Also, at this stage, it is good to know what the exact reason was for the customer to replace an existing ERP solution or to go shopping for the first time. The reason may be compound and include the quality of the software or the support, its ability to fit unique business processes, or the management can have an idea that the company's decision-making process can be boosted by improving the quality of data.

Another important task at this stage of the implementation process is understanding the business priorities and pain points. You need to know whether the source of the problems is business processes or software. Also, you have to figure out whether the ERP implementation is within the vital company's tasks at the moment. This will primarily affect the following steps.

Step #1: Project objectives

Before you will do anything, it is necessary to set up the project objectives. This should be done in cooperation with the key functional managers. These are the people who will work with the solution every day, so they are the perfect information sources. They will help determine the exact project objectives that can be then used as guidelines for determining priorities in implementing project tasks, problem-solving, and making other important decisions.

Objectives can be divided into two levels: high-level or practical low-level goals. The high-level goals may include:

  • Improving the quality of customer service

  • Improving productivity

  • Reducing process duration or order execution time

  • Optimizing costs and expenses

  • Improving the existing business strategies or creating opportunities for new business strategies

The practical objectives are formulated in better details and should be:

  • Specific and quantitative

  • Measurable

  • Approved by the company management

  • Have an owner who is responsible for their fulfillment

Note: The project objectives are the company's targets to achieve as a result of ERP implementation. They are not reached immediately after ERP commissioning. This is crucial to negotiate this with the company's management to set up the right expectations.

Step #2: Project scope

After the objectives are identified, it is time to narrow things down to outline the project's overall scope. Here are what areas you need to cover to determine the scope correctly:

  • Company structure

  • Business processes

  • Business applications (modules)

  • The functionality of business applications

  • Data migration

  • Interfaces and technical architecture

  • Reports

  • Enhancements of standard program code

  • Scale of operations

  • Exceptions to the project framework

You have to fully understand the corporate structure, including any possible foreign legal entities, the full list of business processes to automate provided by key stakeholders, understand the list of applications and modules to use. Pay specific attention to data migration questions, including the composition of data to be migrated, data sources, and client resources availability for data preparation and normalization. Finally, it is crucial to understand the technical landscape for current and future corporate infrastructure.

Step #3: Implementation methodology

There are several ERP implementation methodologies, and each of them contains standard sets of tasks, including requirements collection and analysis, design, solution development, testing, and preparation for the operation. The differences between such methodologies are to what extent, how, and when these tasks are performed.

We can distinguish two extreme cases to illustrate this:

  • Traditional approach

  • Quick implementation

In reality, chances are that you will be using something in the middle of this range. It is crucial to outline and present the customer with the advantages and restrictions of each option. For example, if the customer has specific ERP requirements and also wants to speed up the implementation, it may be necessary to adjust these requirements and divide the project into stages.

Step #4: ERP deployment strategy

Another critical step is to develop an ERP deployment strategy. You need to gather the information that will allow you to offer a customer the strategy that suits the specific company and its situation.

Basically, you will need to decide between two primary options:

  • One-time rollout

  • Phased rollout

The former is good for not that big projects, local implementation, and medium complexity processes. The risks may arise if this rollout method is used, combined with the step above's quick implementation approach. The attempt to rapidly roll out the ERP system for the company with complex and unique business processes may also lead to problems. In such cases, a phased rollout is better.

Phased implementation allows us to mitigate risks. Also, when you move in smaller iterations, it is easier to achieve visible results. Moreover, dividing the rollout into phases decreases the customer's resources and lowers the project cost.

Step #5: Key roles and responsibilities

You can't start working on the ERP system implementation project before you've completed this step. It is crucial to have a detailed description of the responsibility zones, roles of every person in the implementation team both from the customer and the vendor or its partner side.

Final thoughts

After you've gone through the steps above, prepared all necessary documentation, collected and analyzed ERP requirements as well as data to understand the project's risks and constraints, you will be able to craft an effective business proposal.