While I am not a huge fan of the reality dating show, "The Bachelor" I can admit to watching a couple episodes now and again. Recently, former couples from the show were in the news and I got to thinking how the show parallels the ERP selection process. Some aspects are strikingly similar while others are more interpretive. For those who have never seen the show, perhaps you will understand the premise through this comparison.
Round One: The Many Suitors!
On the show, the first round begins with our bachelor or bachelorette meeting several "candidates". It consists of a single-night welcoming party after which a slew of prospective suitors are sent away - roseless. First impressions count for a lot in this round.
This is similar to how one begins the selection process of an ERPvendor. A company may post a notification on one of the many online forums, may utilize a consultant to help in the search, possibly will seek the assistance from colleagues, or simply do research themselves. In any event, the manufacturing company will have several candidates for the vetting process. While this first round in ERP selection will most likely take place in more than a single night, odds are that first impressions are still a big factor here and those ERP companies that don't show or handle themselves well will not get a rose...oops I mean an invitation to move forward.
Round Two: The Narrowing Down of Suitors
On the show the next several (as in many!) weeks involve meeting with suitors individually as well as in groups on dates. These dates are often fantastical and overwhelming - stuff that doesn't typically occur in a normal dating process - helicopters, celebrity-chef dinners, trips to Paris...all situations to enhance the experience and drama. Week after week, more suitors are sent home.
In comparison, this portion of the ERP selection process also slims down the vendors vying for the company's attention. While the discussions and possible online demonstrations (dates) may not be as fantastical, ERP vendors are often still willing to do much to impress the potential client. As well they should. It is here you get a little more time with the vendor, get to hear what makes them different and how they can be the best potential partner for your company. You now pare the list down even further.
Round Three: The Final Group
For TV, the final group represents the usually four suitors - the best of the best. It is now game time for these potential mates! They show the bachelor/bachelorette their home town, how they live, how they truly are....basically they put all the cards on the table. Their actions and words have equal importance and make or break the decision to move ahead in the game.
This is most closely tied to the onsite demonstration phase in ERP selection. Your final group of chosen vendors comes to your facility and spends all day going through the system - hopefully with much of your data. This is where the rubber meets the road. Can all the hype leading up to this point be fully realized in the face-to-face, one-one-one meeting? It is possible that not everyone moves ahead.
Round Four: Meet The Family (aka Meet The References)
Yes, just as it sounds, this is where our bachelor or bachelorette takes the final two suitors home to meet the family. This is crucial because as we all know: family can be vocal and help to shape decisions.
In the ERP process, this is where you will dilingently call and possibly visit the reference customers of the final ERP companies hoping to win you over. Will the family of customers offer praise, food for thought, or both? Just like on the TV show, what the references say can swing a vote to one side or another.
Round Five: Selection Time!
On the show this last step traditionally ends in a marriage proposal. Well, in all honesty, it rarely ends in a proposal that will last much long after the final TV episode airs but for those romantics out there, hope is alive.
In reality, the ERP selection process will end here too (admittedly, with several more aspects throughout such as RFIs, etc...). If you have gone through the steps, listened intently, and chosen wisely than you are likely to see a proposal as well. Hopefully, your choice ends better and with more success than that of "The Bachelor" series. I know many of our customers have been our "partner" for more than the average rate of our competition so I am a firm believer that hope is still alive.