Are Free Demos and Price Quotes Killing ERP?

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.

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Did A Free Demo Come Back To Haunt Both Epicor And ParknPool?

Three cardYesterday I spotted notice that Epicor was being sued by a customer over problems the customer described as:

Epicor said they could do it in seven weeks. We gave them seven months, and we got zero .. I couldn’t even look at a profit-and-loss statement. We couldn’t process orders. We were saying, ‘QuickBooks is so much better than this’ and we were paying $3,500 a year for it.

I can’t help but wonder whether prior to purchasing software (or in the case of Epicor – selling) was there any type of paid analysis that reviewed the fit and created a list of the functionality that was missing?

Moving from QuickBooks to a full ERP system is undoubtedly going to produce a lot of process changes. It’s also going to stress the limits of the typical accounting department who may have been accustomed to the QuickBooks method of data entry which is well suited to smaller operation workflows.

It’s impossible to tell from the details of this lawsuit – however my guess is that there might not have been enough due diligence (also called a paid proof of concept by my friend John Shaver).

Buyers who purchase software without a paid proof of concept could risk facing situations similar to this where missing features are unknown until implementation day when suddenly the true cost of the solution can exponentially increase past the initial hoped for amount – and many many times the cost of a paid proof of concept.

Friends don’t let friends buy ERP without a proof of concept.

Customer Sues Epicor After ERP Software Project Attempt Ends in ‘big Mess’