An ERP system is your information backbone and reaches into all areas of your business and value chain. Replacing it can open the door to new business opportunities – or to disaster.

With so much at stake, conducting an ERP vendor selection process is a grueling undertaking. It helps to narrow the field by evaluating prospective vendors in terms of the value they can ultimately deliver to your business.

Here are just a few important guidelines to help you make the best decision:

Evaluate ERP vendor responsiveness – To get the desired results, you need a vendor that listens to what you want to accomplish with your project and is responsive to your needs. A vendor that is not responsive in the sales process is not likely to improve once you are a customer.

Look for industry-specific solutions – An ERP solution that performs well in your industry means lower risk of implementation issues for your company. Question the solution providers you are considering to be sure they have the right level of expertise with businesses like yours.

Request vendor histories – Make sure a vendor’s strength is in your area of need. Ask for references to other customers who might have similar business needs and issues. Ask the vendor’s customers what they think of the product, the support and the services (upgrades, training, etc.) the company offers.

Focus on no more that 4 solutions – All the steps in the selection process add up: coordinating vendors, conducting discovery meetings, getting the team together to watch demos, comparing functionality, pricing and proposal reviews. Performing due diligence is critical – but covering all the bases can take a toll on internal resources. Review at least two vendors , but no more than four to ensure a thorough, and well-informed decision.