Use Customer References, Case Studies And Testimonials To Aid In Your Selection Of ERP/Accounting Software

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Selecting new accounting/ERP software for your business is a giant step for most companies.  There are many guides out there to walk you through the numerous smaller steps of that larger process.  There are even Excel based software evaluation tools to help compare the options you’re investigating using a rating scale to make the process more quantitative. 

These software selection guides and tools are certainly helpful when it comes to comparing the tangible differences among the alternatives you’re exploring, i.e. the features and functions.  But what about the intangibles?  How can you measure the experience, customer service and implementation skills of the companies you’re meeting with? 

Those are good questions and, truthfully, there is no definitive way to do that.  There is no rating bureau for the professional services companies that sell and implement accounting and ERP software.

One logical avenue is to ask for references.  Most companies hesitate to provide references too early in the sales cycle because this could mean “pestering” their valued clients with an unnecessarily high volume of requests for references.  Still, toward the end of the selection process, you certainly have the right to expect and receive references.  Of course, no company is ever going to give you a reference unless they know for a fact that the customer is going to provide a glowing review.  This doesn’t mean that the reference is of no value.  It just means that you should keep this caveat in mind.   

 Another avenue is the company’s Web site where ideally you can find ERP case studies and accounting software customer testimonials.  A Web site is a public place, and it would be safe to assume that no customer would allow their name and direct quotes to be used indiscriminately.  Pay attention to the actual content of these references.  Do they as a whole show breadth and depth of software implementation and industry experience?  Do they sound enthusiastic?  Obviously, this is a subjective assessment on your part, but go with your gut.  Trust your instincts.  When you read the ERP case study or the testimonial about the ERP implementation , do you find yourself nodding your head in approval?  Are you saying to yourself, yes, this is a company that worked hard and worked well to get this kind of review. 

In the age of the World Wide Web, even privately held companies are accessible to the public.  Take advantage of that fact and use it to your advantage. 

Submitted by Altico Advisors, Microsoft Dynamics Partner, serving manufacturers and distributors in New Hampshire (NH)

1 thought on “Use Customer References, Case Studies And Testimonials To Aid In Your Selection Of ERP/Accounting Software”

  1. Customers who have gone through the selection, implementation and ongoing relationship with a vendor will always be in the best position to provide valuable insights. To your comment: "..unless they know for a fact that the customer is going to provide a glowing review.." I'd say that the customer reference world (where we live) is changing. Marketing departments, typically in charge of customer references/content, are responding to the feedback that "real" is better than manufactured. The YouTube phenomenon has had a lot to do with that, as well as the rise of social networks where customers talk more openly and without vendor censorship with other companies. If an ERP vendor still offers primarily "rosy" customer insights, a quick search of the Web will probably uncover blogs, customer communities, tweets and other sources of unvarnished insights.

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