By Sheldon Needle
The following excerpt is from an email I received from a software buyer who downloaded our Manufacturing Software Selection Kit and took advantage of our free Smart Shortlist™ Consult.
Although we recommended several packages, this buyer did not end up purchasing a CTS-recommended ERP software solution. Instead, the buyer and his company went with another solution because they liked the capabilities of the software. As the buyer’s letter illustrates, without strong vendor support during implementation, even the best software won’t meet your expectations.
You helped us in the beginning of our ERP search, so I thought I’d let you know how it turned out.
We selected Vendor X as the software solution for our make to order, assemble to order company. All of the programs we looked at would have done the job. Ours is an easy application. Vendor X just seemed to be the cleanest of the lot. Maybe because it’s the dotnet version. We’ve been very happy with the program itself. A few bugs here and there, but nothing horrible.
We insisted on putting our hands on the keyboard for ‘over the shoulder’ demos. That really worked well, showed Vendor X well, uncovered some snakes in other programs. All the software guys hated it. Some absolutely refused to do it. We think the Vendor X product is well designed. Whoever was at the bottom of putting that program together had his act together.
What has been horrible is the service. It took us nine months to get it installed from the time of writing a $50,000 check. We did everything they asked us to do, including buying exactly the hardware they recommended.
They just seemed completely understaffed. Our application was just as described, pretty straightforward. We ended up doing all organizing of the data in Excel spreadsheets for them to dump in.
The installation guy was pretty good. His biggest fault was trying to use data we gave him that wasn’t clean which involved the bills of material and parts files. He should have recognized that it wasn’t clean enough and told us. He never did. We had to figure that out on our own which interrupted his attempts to get the system installed properly for use it. He knew we were in a good position to clean it up. Once we understood exactly what they needed, we gave it to them.
It did seem like the installation guy was overloaded. When we had his attention, he was fine. Otherwise he’d be involved in other areas for weeks at a time.
Once we got it installed, the service became worse. You can submit cases online. We pay 17% of the cost of the software for this service each year. Most of the cases are answered by wanting to charge you more to do something for you. Or the end result was no resolution to our problem. In one case, all I wanted to know was where in the data base was the monthly interest rate that we’re supposed to charge a customer. We can get to the data files themselves via Access. After repeatedly telling me it didn’t exist, we finally went around our main contact and got the answer. Once we asked the right person, they in turn asked the right person and we got the answer in ten minutes. It was in one specific, readily available file. We’ve been extremely disappointed with this.
The original contract was specified to include five custom written reports. We laid these reports out in detail before the contract was signed. They estimated the time and included that in the price.
Some of the training sessions were so worthless, that we got them deducted from the contract.
The problem is the software vendor burned up all the hours they had in the contract, including the extra hours supposedly saved by the above deduction, and they have charged us thousands of dollars more. On top of that, they didn’t complete ONE of the specified reports. The burned up those hours, too. Those reports didn’t change one bit from then until now.
In one case they tried to charge us thousands and thousands of dollars during a specific time period when the software was down because of a change the vendor made to it. They couldn’t possibly have been doing anything for us during that time. They backed down on that one.
Anyway, I thought you might be interested, since we had some discussions in the beginning.
We like the program itself a lot. We pretty much think they really took advantage of us on the installation hours. I don’t know if it’s worth it going to court.
Is the above typical of an ERP installation?
I think what’s not typical is that on our side we identified exactly what we wanted up front and virtually nothing changed from beginning to end. We did agree to pay extra to enable UPS to put the tracking number into the program. That was a little irritating. But that was about it.
We were a little surprised that we had to do most of the reports ourselves. We thought at least some of them would be what we wanted. Only the P&L and Balance sheet reports were much good. But their report generator was good enough, plus they showed us how to connect to the data files via Access.
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At CTS, we review MRP systems and the service behind the solutions. So whether you want to confirm that the software choice you are about to make is the right one, or get our specific recommendations for your company’s needs, I invite you to download our Manufacturing Software Selection Kit and take advantage of our Smart Shortlist Consult today!