Selecting the Right Enterprise Resource Planning System VAR

It is a daunting task to decide what order management system (OMS) or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is the right one for your business. Now there are even more options with ERP systems, as there are many Value Added Resellers (VARs) for the same ERP system. Why are there so many VARs for the same system, and how do you make a decision on which VAR to use?

The vendor landscape is getting increasingly challenging when multichannel businesses look to replace their current order management system (OMS). There are still the traditional order management system (OMS) vendors, but depending on what additional features you may require; a number of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Retail Management System (RMS) vendors have expanded their system offerings to try and accommodate multichannel businesses.

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The ERP systems from the "Big Systems Vendors"; Microsoft, SAP, Oracle and the like; can have literally 100’s of VARs for these major vendors.  Why so many you ask?  Well in a number of cases a given VAR will create additional functionality that sits on top of a particular ERP system offering, based on the business niche (specialty) of the VAR. For example, most ERP applications were designed for specific industries; manufacturing, wholesale distribution, retail, etc. Let’s say that I am a VAR and my specialty is the Direct (catalog and eCommerce) industry. The VAR would set out to build an order taking process that is geared towards direct response; catalog, space ads, infomercial, etc. Developing this specialized enhancement to the base ERP system allows the VAR to target a niche type of industry/client with not only their unique enhanced system offering, but also with the full complement of the rest of the ERP system.

All ERP VARs are not equal, so now the real challenge begins for someone in the Direct industry who is looking at these VAR enhanced ERP system offerings.  It is not always easy trying to find a VAR in your business’ niche. What is even harder is finding multiple VARs for the same ERP system that also offer a similar type of specialized enhancements - such as enhanced specifically for a product category like aftermarket auto parts, apparel, consumer electronics, etc. 

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One thing FCBCO recommends is interviewing the various VARs to better understand if they can meet what you desire in a new ERP system;  but this is only the start. What FCBCO has also learned over the years is that even if the VAR states that they have similar clients to your business and that they can meet your requirements; it is ultra important to then ask for viable references specific to your industry and product line. This is extremely important to you and your business so that you can understand not only how the VARs' performance was - on time, within budget - but also how close does this business match with how you want the system to perform.

Doing this initial due diligence will save you time, head off a potentially wrong investment, and frustration before you send out your Request for Proposal (RFP) and begin conducting your detailed deep dive into each potential vendor's system.  These initial pre-qualification steps will assure you, to the best that it can, that you are sending your RFP to the best qualified VARs that can meet your businesses requirements.