A story out yesterday describes an Epicor customer who is suing over a $70,000 software purchase.
Although I do not know the circumstances of this particular case – my bet is that most of these types of ERP problems start off with a free demo and free analysis.
Who is ultimately to blame if a customer purchases ERP software and subsequently (as the story infers) refuses professional implementation services.
As professional service providers do we not have a duty to first diagnose before prescribing. To coin Ed Kless’s phrase – “prescription before diagnosis is malpractice”.
In the “I can get this cheaper on the net” world this type of customer is very common and typical.
Here are their common characteristics:
– has already self diagnosed
– wants your best price based on a list they provide youi
– typically the evaluation is led by IT (biggest red flag in my experience)
– 100% your fault when ERP doesn’t run identically to MS Office
I blame whoever sells the software into these situations without requiring an advance paid analysis. Paid analysis, in my experience, is an ideal way to separate the tire kicking problem customer who may not ever be successful with an implementation. My experience says that problem customers never see a need to pay for advice.
Red flag #1, 2, 3. Three strikes you’re out.
In my opinion, those who sell into red flag problem accounts deserve whatever they get.
Here’s Ed Kless’s observation on the need for diagnosis before prescription.
Just try going to most doctors today and self-diagnosing any ailment and asking for a prescription without being seen.
Years ago this might have worked in some instances.
Today it almost never works – except in ERP implementations.
I am not saying customers are never dysfunctional (and at least partly to blame) – just the sales process of free demo/free analysis/free price quote is.
Full Disclosure: Ed Kless works for Sage. I represent Sage products (primarily consulting). Epicor is a competitor to Sage in the ERP space. Certainly we are not independent with respect to our opinions in this space though the comments above are meant to reflect my overall observation of the state of the ERP market and not any one particular ERP vendor.