Selecting the right vendor to implement enterprise performance management (EPM) software is as important as selecting an appropriate EPM software for the business. There are too many instances where software implementation projects fail not because of product selection but because of vendor selection.
The EPM vendor must have the expertise in developing and supporting the EPM product, as well as a deep understanding about the company’s mission, goals and strategy to develop the new EPM system. Apart from this criteria, the vendor should be able to interact and engage with the company’s internal team for a successful implementation of the project. Additionally, a vendor must be measured on providing a value-added solution, directly improving overall commercial performance, maximizing the value of the project and providing technical and functional insights and competencies.
The following list of questions are useful for the software selection committee to ask when selecting an EPM vendor.
1. What impact will the EPM solution have on the business?
The above question is one of the most important questions to ask the vendor. It will help to understand the scope and the ROI of the software developed. Generally, it is difficult to get specific answers but you can get a good idea of the level of impact the software will have. If a vendor is unable to give you a high-level answer, you must beware in continuing the contract with the vendor.
2. What kind of features can be provided and how much time is required to build the features?
It is important to ask the vendors about the features they can provide. A mismatch in the required features may lead to scope creep and, later, failure in the implementation of the system. Important features to consider are reporting capabilities, ad-hoc queries, predictive analysis, cloud or on premise, compatibility and accessibility with mobile devices, real-time monitoring and multidimensionality support. It is also important to ask about how much time is required to implement these new features because a delay in the project may lead to more losses rather gains.
3. What is the cost structure?
The vendor must be able to provide worksheets that will help estimate the total cost of ownership of the EPM and the time it takes for the company to benefit after implementation is complete. The vendor must be able to provide details on the breakdown the cost structure, which may include line items such as:
- Total cost to build the system
- Licensing costs
- Costs to operate and upgrade
- Training costs
- Cost for a change request
- Billing cost and role of each employee
- Cost to restructure existing systems
4. What kind of tutorials and implementation guides will be provided?
Once the EPM is deployed, it is necessary for the users to get trained on the software. Training material plays an important role in the success of the software; if the users aren’t adequately trained, the system may not prove benefits to the company and hamper the company’s ability to reach the set targets. Hence, the selection committee must ask questions on how training will be performed and what kinds of training collateral will be provided for the users.
5. What is the experience of the vendor’s team?
Experience and skills are both important for successful deployment of EPM software. It is necessary for the executing team to have the right skill sets and experience to build a robust system. Therefore, it is essential for the selection committee to ask about the experience and skill sets of the team who will be working on the project.
6. How will the IT architecture look like?
The company must have the overall picture of the architecture of its IT infrastructure. The vendor must be able to answer whether the new system will be able to integrate the existing systems into one platform and replace disparate tools, or if there will be different platforms for different systems.
7. How the metadata and data will be handled?
Metadata is one of the most important building blocks for any EPM system. It is necessary to know whether it will be handled by the ERP system, planning and budgeting systems, existing data warehouses or by external data sources. Another important question to ask is about data and its security. A company should know the what is the data backup plan is, how secure the data is, how data will be recovered if the data is it is lost, and what the disaster recovery procedures are.
8. Is role-based support available?
Different people in the organizations have different roles and activities to perform. Each one of them may need to view data at different times and in different ways, yet all the different perspectives align with the company’s strategic goals. So, role-based support is a crucial consideration while selecting a vendor.
9. How do you get support for additional functionalities and updates?
The success of an EPM software isn’t just measured in the initial deployment of the solution, but also in the organization’s ability to succeed in the coming years with the use of the software. Multiple changes in the product may take place after the deployment. Hence, organizations must select vendors who will continuously help in evolving the software and provide 24/7 support, if required.
10. Are cloud and on-premise options both available?
In the last few years, many EPM applications have become available in the cloud, in addition to on-premise. Now, many organizations are looking for a cloud-based solution where the initial capital investment is low and where new features and functionalities are updated by the service provider. Thus, if a company is looking to implement a solution in the cloud, the vendor must have expertise in implementing a solution in the cloud.
11. Are there any success stories?
Lastly, the selection committee should ask the vendors for references and success stories of their existing clients. The references must be of clients to whom the vendor has provided services that are similar to those that the selection committee is looking to adopt in its company.
These 11 questions will help a selection committee prepare well to meet with and select the right vendor to implement an EPM solution. A successful EPM project will maximize the ROI, align with the strategic goals, and help the company achieve its objectives and vision.