Having spent many years selling and delivering services for a major ERP vendor, I can say with experience that just implementing a module (or suite) just because it comes as part of your ERP solution doesn’t always make sense. The ERP vendors are always selling the “vision” of single vendor accountability to an organization and if you buy into that then it comes naturally just to implement all the software from that vendor. Generally speaking, this is not usually a problem if you are performing basic functionality such as Human Capital Management (HCM) or Financial Management, but where the breakdown occurs is when implementing software that is associated with the company’s strategic direction and competitive differentiation such as Manufacturing and/or Supply Chain Management (SCM) software.
During my tenure implementing the true ERP suite vision (everything included; HCM, Financials, SCM, Mfg, CRM, etc.) for a company, the company would always struggle during the SCM and manufacturing part of the project. This was generally because every manufacturer runs their company differently in order to maintain a competitive advantage and trying to fit a one size fits all product into a company doesn’t work. In addition, the ERP vendors would sell the company on a single platform for integration, and many times some of the SCM products were really acquired products that are more like bolt ons and the integration doesn’t necessarily exist. So, not only is there generally more work to integrate the product, but the functionality may not exist that the customer requires for their business. These were difficult customer situations to manage.
I believe that customers should really do a thorough vendor selection when looking to procure SCM or manufacturing software, and I don’t think I am alone in this belief. In an ErpPandit.com article entitled “Basic ERP Features” the author gives a primer on comparing mid-market ERP providers and when discussing SCM module states “Of all the ERP modules, SCM has the greatest variability between vendors: It is vast and varied, yet often adapted to the needs of specific industries.” If that is true (which I believe) then how can a company not do their due diligence when selecting software? Certainly you don’t want to be a food and beverage manufacturer and implement a product which is designed for the high tech industry.
This of course doesn’t mean that the SCM software from your ERP vendor won’t work for you, all I am suggesting is that it is worth the time to look at alternatives. Companies should not fall into the trap in assuming that just because the SCM software was part of an ERP solution that fits your company that the SCM software either works for your unique business or is tightly integrated into the back office ERP functions.
There is another post on the Adexa blog entitled “Cost of ERP vs. Best-of-Breed Supply Chain Planning Systems” which also does a nice job educating the reader as to what to consider when performing a software evaluation data integration, planning analytics and configuration cost. There is now a lot of evidence out there of failed SCM implementations and I personally don’t want to have to be on the hook to deliver an SCM software implementation for a company where the software doesn’t match the requirements.