The entry of multinational brands such as Microsoft and SAP into the mid-market ERP space in South Africa has brought the power of the brand into play and seriously affected the way that companies arrive at their purchasing decisions. 

It is a new and complex ball game in the mid-market ERP environment,” says Errol Wills, MD of Lorge. “The only common thread in today’s buying process is that all companies seem to want the same outcome – that the next system that they buy is their last one.”
Wills maintains that buying criteria fall into two classifications – “deal-breakers” and “deal-makers”. There are just two of the former and many of the latter, and in this instance it is not a case of strength in numbers because the deal breakers can override most of the deal makers.
The deal-breakers are:
*    Pricing, which must meet the prospective client’s expectations of fair value.
*    Not achieving “the right fit” through total alignment with the prospective client’s business processes.
*    A dual-edged criteria is previous experience, because most prospective clients today are not first-time buyers or users, so their experience can be a deal breaker if it has been negative, or a deal-maker if it was positive.
Deal-makers include:
*    A “future-proof” solution. The ERP system needs to grow with the business and align with the future business plan.
*    Delivery of relevant technology-driven solutions that provide demonstrated and sustained business advantages.
*    The capability to vastly extend solutions through self-authored content and high levels of systemwide integration.
*    ERP system replacement know-how. This requires a business solutions provider with great experience of the process to minimise the costs and disruption of conversion, while maximising knowledge of the new system.
*    Consulting expertise, which is essential to stack the technology odds in favour of the purchaser.
*    Vendors and business solutions providers that place emphasis on performance, reliability and achieving scalability as well as offering integrity, dedication and return on investment.
“Although all of these criteria are relevant, purchasers generally now look to ways of simplifying the decision by applying deal-breaker criteria to act as a filter or a means of either elevating or eliminating the solution offerings to them,” says Wills.
“Meanwhile, the deal-makers’ criteria encapsulated under the power of the brand gives the purchaser the assurance when making the final buying decision.