Ten executives went into a room and closed the door. A month later, the same ten executives went into the same room on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Each time they were accompanied by an ERP software salesmen and a legion of "experts". They ordered in box lunches. They closed the door.
A month later an announcement came out "We are going to The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread ERP Package 7.0". Image their surprise when the system users are less than elated. Nobody asked for their input. Exactly what does this system look like? What can it do? Details, details, the executives picked it out. They must know what's best for the company. Most can't even get on the current system because it's been so long since they logged on and ... "where is that darn sticky note that has my password on it."
Though exaggerated (a little or a lot depending on the company), the above example resembles the ERP selection process employed by more than a few companies. If you have been in business more than 5 minutes you have probably already seen it at least once! Now the real fun starts. "This system can't pull the basic information we send to our biggest customer each month." "This system doesn't accommodate multiple inventory locations". "We can't track inventory located at vendor sites or by lot". "This system can't integrate seamlessly with our CRM". Usually these discoveries only take place after implementation because companies that use the "Executives only" selection method are usually the same ones that pay a team of outside consultants to do all the heavy lifting on the implementation. The implementation becomes the consultant's interpretation of what they think the client wants. By the time the system is implemented, nobody likes it, nobody owns and worst of all - nobody understands it!
What would I do differently? Bring end users and key user groups into the process from the very beginning. Be open about the process. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Enlist your end users and key user groups to help you build a selection criteria to objectively score each ERP system. Bring a diverse team of users and user groups into the presentations and have them score each ERP package based on the comprehensive selection criteria. With the subject matter experts in the room, ERP vendors can be pushed to demonstrate exactly what the key users are asking. They work with the data every day. They know. They are an invaluable resource. I'm not sure why you would even contemplate such an important decision without consulting your most insightful resource - end users.