The product-selection committee should work to create a shortlist of target EPM software vendors, winnowing the list to the smallest possible number (two vendors are better than three, for example). The committee should ask each shortlisted vendor to build a working example of the application. This is also the point to double-check references.
One cannot overemphasize the importance of checking the vendor’s financial stability. Even if the vendor is a private company, you must examine its last two audited financial statements. After that, go through the exercise of projecting what the first six months will be like working with the vendor. Will implementation be a breeze? Is extra help available if needed? Careful reference checks will provide some of these answers.
Here are other important questions to ask before choosing an EPM software vendor:
- What is the vendor’s financial stability?
- How experienced is its executive team?
- Does the vendor have a published set of tutorials and implementation guides?
- How strong is the vendor’s professional services team?
- Does the vendor have relationships with third-party professional services, application or BI providers?
- Can the vendor provide worksheets to help estimate total cost of ownership, time to benefit and quantifiable benefits so you can calculate ROI?
By following the advice above, you should be in a good position to create a shortlist of vendors to consider.
The vendors you’ll encounter fall into several broad categories that also conveniently describe what each one specializes in.
First are the BI Mega vendors: three companies that offer all the major budgeting, planning, strategy, revenue and cost management, and financial disclosure components of EPM. One caveat: When analyzing these vendors, take special care to understand how much BI they deliver with their EPM products and how much must be bought separately.
IBM, Oracle and SAP became sophisticated EPM vendors after each made acquisitions in the BI space. As a result, all three provide comprehensive EPM suites, with capabilities in numerous countries and vertical industries. While these software giants will not be the least expensive to deal with, all three are highly capable.
Two other large companies compete in the EPM software industry. Infor claims to be the third-largest ERP vendor (after SAP and Oracle) and has acquired many ERP companies over the years, including Extensity. It offers a reasonably complete set of EPM functions, though organizations that already own an Infor EPM system should take the time to scrutinize how well it integrates with the EPM offerings.
SAS also provides a broad range of EPM capabilities and has specialized offerings for IT, human capital management, customer management and supplier management.
Considered together, the products sold by the five biggest vendors provide every core EPM function, along with some useful horizontal and vertical ones. Other vendors generally sell less-comprehensive EPM software products.
As you can see there a considerable amount of criteria to consider when selecting a vendor but then it is an important undertaking that will make a considerable impact on the success of your business
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