If you’re like most people and your business is like most businesses, you’ve probably spent a hefty amount of time weighing the pros and cons of implementing an ERP system. Choosing the right ERP is critical in ensuring a successful, relatively pain and hassle-free implementation. So much is dependent on your specific industry, the size of your organization, and how different systems can accommodate your immediate and long term needs, namely, chalk up points for functionality, scalability, and complexity.
Just for the record, let’s assume that you’re ‘all in’ and that you’ve decided on what you believe is the best business management solution for you and your company. Now, it’s time to choose the right partner.
Your ERP implementation partner is in it for the extra long haul. You want to make sure that this, like any other long term relationship, is to help see your ERP project through to fruition. Be aware, however, that it’s easy to go astray when bringing new technology on board and even easier to underestimate the time, effort and resources needed to successfully implement and maintain an ERP system.
Here’s the down side. Analysts report that nearly 75% of ERP projects fail. One way, and perhaps the most important way to avoid ERP implementation failure, is to select the right partner. This should always be at the top of your list, simply because working with the right people, makes all the difference.
Here are five additions to your “find-a-partner-to-do” list. Think of it as tried n’ true recommendations to get you primed and ready… before you choose your Mr. Right.
1. Proof. Find out if your ERP implementation partner has an ironclad success rate. Rack it up alongside as many success stories as you can muster that proclaim successful implementation projects. Be sure to demand a list of reference customers, and preferably, real people you can actually talk to. This is a great way to find out, first hand, what it’s like to work alongside this partner and their team. Remember, they’re only as good as their last satisfied customer – and this is something you need to know.
2. Knowledge. Is your ERP implementation partner a walking library of information, well versed in your specific industry and familiar with your niche market? After all, they will have to know your business almost as well as you do (if not better). How do they propose to customize the software to meet your needs, and save on costs, time and resources? Will they teach you how to optimize system features and functionalities? Are they themselves up to date with industry standards, government regulations and compliance, and how can they ensure your software will keep pace with business demands?
3. Dialog. The ERP implementation process is a lengthy, often drawn out and complex process. It’s essential that your organization have a partner who is easily accessible, open to continuous dialog, meetings, phone calls, and above all else, communication, communication, communication. Be sure that your implementation partner lays the groundwork for ongoing open communication from you and your team. A listening ear is not enough. Your partner must establish and adhere to focused and consistent dialog from the get-go. This will help ensure your project’s success with minimal downtime and (hopefully) minimal stress.
4. Tech-savvy. As is often the case, your implementation partner may not be the ERP software developer. They may be an authorized business partner or regional reseller acting on behalf of the vendor. This is common practice for many global ERP providers, who market and sell products via distributors, many of which are localized, for example, available in a country’s native language and customized to serve local government/tax regulations. It is vitally important that your ERP implementation partner knows the software inside-out, has the tools and resources to help you customize your system, troubleshoot problem areas and be the ‘face’ and the ‘voice’ of the software vendor in your country or region.
5. You matter. Before taking the plunge and signing on with an ERP implementation partner, don’t forget to put yourself into the equation. Get a handle on the real needs of your organization, be sure that you/your management team have a clear understanding of the merits of ERP and understand what awaits them. Get your department heads in line with demands and expectations and make sure that project plans are (really) realistic, taking your most important resource, your employees, into account. But be sure that you’re on board – first, so that when it comes to choosing a running mate, the proverbial Mr. Right, you will seek out and find the best possible ERP implementation partner.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that ERP is designed to better your organization, increase productivity and boost your business, and that your ERP implementation partner is slated to become your all-time best friend and confidante for the duration of the project – and beyond.
So, be prudent in your choice but trust your better judgement. Choose a partner who will not only go the extra mile for you, but will ensure that the journey will be well worth it in the end.