VENDORS are the people who have developed the ERP packages. They are the people who have invested huge amounts of time and effort in research and development, to create the packaged solutions. If one studies the history of ERP packages and finds out how each package evolved, then it soon becomes evident that every ERP package grew out of the experience or opportunity of a group of people working in a specific business who created systems that could deal with certain business segments.
Now with the ERP marketplace become crowded with more and more players entering the market and the competition increasing, today's ERP packages have features and functionality to cater to the needs of businesses in almost all sectors.
ERP vendors spend crores of rupees in research and come up with innovations that make the packages more efficient, flexible and easy to implement and use. Also, with the evolution of new technologies the vendors have to constantly upgrade their products to use the best and latest advancements in technology.
Choosing the right software vendor goes beyond evaluating software functionality. There has been a gradual movement among a handful of the largest software vendors to take a one-size-fits-all posture. Some vendors believe functionality ratings are no longer important since all software systems are beginning to look alike. While appearances may tend to support this theory, reality paints a different picture.
Merely having a particular function does not guarantee that users will be able to capably work with it. If two vendors offer a function required in a specific industry segment, and one specializes in deploying it in that segment while the other does not, the difference can be dramatic. The one-size-fits-all garment may fit everybody, but the question is does it look good to everyone?
Vendor selection is not a popularity contest and bigger does not always mean better. While the financial stability, ensured longevity and broad spectrum of offerings provided by the top vendors are good reasons for selecting them, size is not without its downside. Size breeds bureaucracy and bureaucracy hamper personal attention and agility.
While small vendors that are not quite household names may carry increased risks in the area of long-term longevity, they may actually provide a better solution if they specialize in your industry segment rather than covering a broad spectrum of industries.
You have the greatest leverage with your vendor once you have made the decision to buy their software but have not yet issued the purchase order. Waiting for the end of their quarter can help you get the best price.
Also view the financial stability of your future relationship as important - you will receive positive support from your vendor as long as it is profitable for them to do so. The relationship is a balancing act. Interest your vendors to get the job done right, on-time and within budget, but watch out for penalties that may increase project pressure and sour the relationship.
It is important to remember that the vendor, as long as they provide working software and capable personnel, really as very little responsibility for your overall success. Responsibility for success of failure lies within the four walls of your business, and if you import failure in the form of a third-party, it's still your responsibility.
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