When engaging in the ERP selection process, demonstrated software functionality is key; however, asking ERP vendors the right questions about their respective businesses is just as critical to a successful ERP selection as software functionality. While the questions below contain some basic, general questions to ask software vendors about product functionality, these questions are primarily designed to provide selection team with a better understanding of software vendors’ general business philosophies, organizational longevity, approach to ERP implementation and customer support, annual maintenance fees, software upgrades, and more.
By requiring software vendors to answer the following questions, the software selection team will be armed with the necessary information to make well-informed final ERP selection.
Company Background, Business Philosophy, and Corporate Vision
1. Is your company an ERP software developer or value-added reseller (VAR)?
2. How many years has your company been involved in the manufacturing or distribution software industry?
3. How does your organization compare to other organizations in your industry relative to revenue per employee?
4. Do you provide a money-back guarantee or software acceptance period which will allow us to ensure that the software does everything that it was represented to do during the sales process?
5. What level of involvement does your organization’s executive leadership have in the daily operations of the business and future product development? Has there been any recent changeover in your organization’s senior management staff including outside investment organizations?
Software Implementation and Customer Support
1. Do you outsource your ERP implementation services to third-party service providers, or do you deliver implementation services in-house?
2. What is your organization’s average implementation services-to-software cost ratio (i.e. total cost of implementation services / total cost of software licenses)?
3. What is the average software implementation time frame for a company of our size?
4. Can our existing data be readily migrated to your proposed software solution? What level of effort and cost is associated with the data migration process?
5. Are support calls answered by members of your staff, or do you outsource your technical support?
6. Who is responsible for answering customer support calls? Who is the first person we speak to when we contact your customer support personnel, and what is their level of experience with your software? Do you offer 24/7 technical support?
7. Where is your support staff located (geographically)?
8. Does your organization provide a guaranteed maximum upper limit cost for any services work you perform for our company?
Annual Maintenance and Software Upgrades
1. When do you start to charge new customers for annual maintenance?
2. What is your annual maintenance fee, and how is this maintenance fee calculated? What was your annual maintenance fee five years ago?
3. Are software upgrades and future software releases included in your annual maintenance fee? How frequently do you release a major update or upgrade to the proposed software solution?
Software Licensing, Technical Information, Features, and Future Development
1. When was the first release for the proposed software solution? What is the current release for the proposed software solution, and when was it formally released for commercial availability?
2. Was the proposed software solution developed by the existing software supplier, or was it originally developed by a software supplier who was subsequently acquired by the existing supplier?
3. Where does your organization see the development of the proposed software solution going in the future? How long will you (or the developer of the software) continue to develop and support the proposed software solution?
4. Is the complete application source code included at no additional cost in the price of software licenses? Do we get the source code directly, or is the source code placed in escrow?
5. Is the software sold on a module-by-module basis, or is the software sold as an integrated whole for one all-inclusive price? What modules are included in the cost of software licenses? What specific functionality is not included in the base-level software package for the proposed software solution?
6. What is the minimum number of concurrent or named user licenses we have to buy?
7. Are there any restrictions on the database, hardware platform, network, or operating system environment for which the software is compatible?
8. What is the degree of scalability offered by the proposed software solution? Will the software’s existing functionality allow our business to grow without adding additional software functionality in the future to meet our needs?
9. Are customer references available? May we visit one of your customers to see the proposed software solution being used in a live transaction environment prior to contract signing?