Five questions to ask when selecting an ERP implementation partner
Software advisory firms have been helping organizations evaluate and select enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and methodologies have become relatively holistic in their approach, with one key exception: evaluating and selecting an ERP implementation partner.
Ask any ERP consulting firm how they evaluate the implementation partner, system integrator or value-added reseller (VAR) and you will get some very convoluted answers. What most are saying is they don’t evaluate who will be implementing the software and will only evaluate the software itself.
This is especially true if you have selected a lower-cost provider or negotiated too hard on scope or cost. In most cases, don’t expect too much diligence to go into the SI evaluation when using an advisory firm. Even if a larger system integrator is used, the company will likely encounter biases.
Broad experience and lack of bias is important in decisions such as how to select between ERP systems. Just as importantly, it is also important to help select an implementation partner.
Five questions to ask when working with a software selection firm
While many firms will state they evaluate the implementation partner, consider asking these five questions:
- Ask if the company has any partnerships or alliances with software implementers. Some firms claiming to be “independent” still have arrangements with system resellers. They can claim independence in that they don’t take kickbacks for software recommendations or sales. However, they may still benefit on the side from partnerships and recommendations to reseller firms.
- Ask about methodology for selecting the best implementation partner. Look elsewhere if the methodology for selecting an implementation partner is the same as selecting a software. With software evaluation, the company is evaluating software functional fit. Another common response is they will take recommendation from the system provider.
- Ask if they have any preferred implementation firms they have worked with in the past. Here’s the catch to this one; the answer should be “yes”. Any consulting group in business for any length of time with ERP implementation experience should have gained some favorites. Having this background and knowledge of the industry can be valuable in helping navigate the waters of SI’s and resellers. The appropriate follow up question is do they have any financial incentive to select a particular firm over another. The answer to this should clearly be “no”.
- As if they can state their independence in their contract. As questionable as some firms may be in how they answer the above questions, few will risk contract fraud. Just be sure the wording is clear.
- Expect to pay for implementation partner evaluation. You do get what you pay for in the consulting world. Companies expecting implementation partner evaluation for free are in for disappointment. Take another look at the company’s methodologies and deliverables if you’re told evaluation is included.
Some integrators and resellers work with a variety of systems and some focus on one particular solution. Some have geographic specialties, several have focused vertical knowledge, and some have IP built onto an ERP platform.
It is critical to get a good implementation partner along with the appropriate software in order to realize ERP technology benefits.