When upgrading your ERP system, the first major task is to choose the perfect system for your needs. Once you’ve made this decision, the next step is to find the ideal partner to implement it for you.
There are many ERP implementation partners to choose from and you will initially start with a long list of potential candidates. The challenge then lies in refining this extensive roster into a concise short list and, ultimately, making that decisive final selection.
Navigating this evaluation process is all about finding the ERP implementation partner that suits your operation best. Here’s a guide to the essential aspects to consider to be certain of getting the best fit.
Experience and Expertise
Firstly, it’s vital to assess the ERP partner’s experience with the specific software you’re interested in. Not all partners will have the same level of experience and you will want one that is well-versed in your chosen software.
Look for certifications and endorsements that have been awarded by the software vendor and which indicate the implementation partner’s level of expertise. These serve as a testament to the partner’s capabilities and commitment to staying up to date with the latest advancements in their software and will provide you with confidence in their ability to implement and support the software successfully. For example, NetSuite confers an Expertise in ERP certification to partners that have achieved certifications across a number of NetSuite skill areas.
References and Case Studies
To qualify the partner’s experience, you should assess its track record with projects that are similar in size and scope to yours. Request references, case studies and testimonials. These will help you gauge their past successes and ensure they can handle a project of your scale or that they understand your industry and its challenges.
Once you have a shortlist, it is advisable to visit site references where possible, so that you can gain a first-hand insight into these projects and question the company about the partner.
Stability and Reputation
Thoroughly investigate the partner’s financial standing to ensure they have the resources necessary to support your ERP project effectively. You can use online business information providers and government resources.
Longevity in business is also a key indicator to check. A company with a proven and enduring track record is more likely to be equipped to provide you with reliable and consistent support. By assessing both their financial stability and longstanding reputation, you can make a more informed decision when selecting the ERP implementation partner that best aligns with your business needs and goals.
Location and Global Reach
Weigh up the significance of the partner’s location in relation to your business operations. Proximity may play a role in your decision-making process if you value a local partner so that you that can have face-to-face meetings, for example.
If you operate multinationally – or plan to expand across other regions of the world – you should evaluate the implementation partner’s global capabilities. Some larger ERP partners may have overseas offices or may maintain strategic collaborations with selected companies in other regions. Having a global reach might be important to you so that you achieve a uniform ERP implementation and ongoing support across all your international operations.
Development Skills and Project Methodologies
You will want to find a partner that can customise your chosen ERP software to your unique business needs. So, seek a partner with the right developmental skills to tailor the software accordingly. Request certifications or other information that will help you assess the skills and experience of their development team.
It’s also important to check if the partner has experience of integrating the ERP software with your existing systems. Having a seamless integration is essential so that data and processes continue to work effectively across systems.
You may also be keen to see if their working practices and project methodologies align with yours. For example, do you have a preference about the project management method they use. Many will not mind whether their implementation partner follows agile, Kanban or scrum methods – but you may.
Lastly, check their approach to data migration. Data is your most critical asset and so their strategies for migrating your data while maintaining its integrity should align with your own data management objectives.
Training and Support
Beyond the initial implementation, how well the partner delivers training and support can impact the success of your partnership over the longer term.
Adequate training is vital to ensure that your team can use the new ERP system effectively. Assess whether their training programs can be tailored to your needs and check how they are delivered. If you have fully remote staff, for example, then their programme will need to cater to that. Or perhaps you would prefer them to deliver sessions in person, on your premises.
Reliable and timely support is critical to resolving issues and maintaining the functionality of your ERP system as your company evolves. Check what support services are provided, including the methods used and typical response times. Ensure that the partner can commit to service level agreements that align with your expectations and needs.
Pricing and Total Cost of Ownership
Often, the price that an implementation partner can charge you for the software licenses is fixed by the provider. But the prices of other services they offer will vary. So, determine what their development fees are, especially if you anticipate a lot of customisation work. Also check that the training maintenance, support fees are competitive.
It may be hard though to receive accurate costs at an early stage. Until you have a very detailed feature requirements brief, working out the total cost of ownership is challenging.
Team Dynamics and Working Relationships
The success of an ERP implementation often hinges on effective collaboration and communication. Therefore, building a positive working relationship with the partner’s staff can greatly influence the success of the implementation.
You want harmonious working relationships where the dynamics embody mutual respect and a shared commitment to achieving the project goals. So, have your team members meet with the developers and consultants – and not just the salespeople – to ensure that everyone gets on.
Conclusion: Setting the Framework for ERP Success
Selecting the right ERP partner is about more than just checking off a list of criteria. There are a number of factors to consider, each of which will contribute to the success of your ERP implementation.
Forging a partnership that resonates and fits with your company’s ethos, working processes and objectives requires a careful assessment of the available options.
In selecting the partner that give you the best fit, you will establish the transformative framework to drive your business forward and achieve lasting ERP success.