ERP Trials: Are They Really the Best Way to Test a New ERP Solution?

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With subscription models becoming more prevalent for business management systems, demand for ERP trials has increased. Considering the price of a new ERP implementation, it makes sense to want to test the solution before committing. However, as Director of Sales and Marketing at JOVACO, I personally don't think it's the best way to see if the software is right for your organization.

In my experience, ERP trials are very limited, and there are better ways to determine if a product is a good fit for your business. The nature of ERP systems is such that a trial rarely provides significant insight into what the solution will actually be like when used within your organization. This can give you the wrong impression of the product for the following reasons.

Why ERP trials are not the best way to test a new solution

No configurations

Any new business management solution has to be adapted to your business to be effective. ERP trials tend to take a "one size fits all" approach, but the reality is that every organization and industry have their own specific needs. If the solution is not configured to your business, you might end up thinking the product doesn't work, while it just hasn't been set up the way you work.

Lack of training

Users are rarely trained for a trial run of a new business management system. However, these solutions are complex, and while solutions available today are increasingly user-friendly, that doesn't mean training is unnecessary. Quite the opposite! If users don't know how to make the best of the solution, they will end up frustrated, which will give them the wrong impression of the system.

No change management process

Implementing a new ERP system is a long, often disruptive process. Change management and accounting principles have to be considered and transactions must be inputted into the system. Change takes time, and without training or configurations, you won't get an accurate idea of what actually using the system will be like. It's unlikely you will be able to tell whether it's a good fit for your organization in such a short period of time.

What to base your selection on instead of ERP trials

For these reasons, I'm a big believer in basing your selection on the following criteria instead of ERP trials:

Establish your priorities

Do your homework and determine what your priorities are. There are some product-agnostic firms that specialize in building these product request documents. They may be a good place to start if you haven't figured out which product you want to go with. Without a good idea of what your organization needs, you may get sucked in with cool features that won't help you meet your primary business goals.

Do a fit-gap analysis

A fit-gap analysis is usually billable, but could save you a lot of time and money in the long run. It will take away any surprises or questions you may have. You will also have a better idea of how the system will work, any configurations and developments that may be required to meet your needs, and how much the project will really cost in the end.

Ask for references

Any potential partners will usually provide a list of companies that are happy with their services, but there is a list of questions that I feel can give you even better insight on the overall experience. Make sure to ask for companies similar in size and industry, and don't be scared to ask them questions specific to the implementation process. Here are a few questions you might want to ask references:

  1. How did your team adjust to the changes?
  2. How many people were involved in the process?
  3. How long did it take and why?
  4. How did your company adapt before, during and after?

Their answers to these questions will give you a better idea of what to expect at each phase of the project, how change management was handled, and which developments were required. You should come away with a better idea of what to expect in terms of project scope.

Implementing a new business management solution is a costly investment. For this reason, ERP trials may seem like an attractive option to avoid buyer's remorse. However, the specific nature of ERP solutions makes trials counterintuitive and can give the wrong impression of the product you're testing. To make sure you're buying the right ERP system for your organization, check out our eBook Choosing a Management Information System: An Evaluation Checklist or read our article Microsoft Dynamics GP or Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central: Which is Right for Your Organization?

By JOVACO Solutions, specialist in the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics ERP systems


About JOVACO Solutions

JOVACO Solutions is a leading ERP and CRM solution provider operating for over 35 years. As a specialist of Microsoft Dynamics business management solutions, we offer a wide range of products and services to meet all the needs of professional services firms and project-based organizations. We also offer specialized project management tools and timesheet add-ons fully integrated to Microsoft Dynamics solutions. our website contact us for more information.

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