For the uninitiated, enterprise resource planning (ERP) projects can be a daunting idea. Typically one of the larger investments made by organisations, there is a huge amount of pressure internally and externally to ensure their success.
When it comes to ERP projects the first thought is often given to software selection, from functionality, flexibility and cost to ongoing maintenance and support. Naturally, this is a key ingredient when it comes to ERP success and is fairly quantitative in its measurement. The same cannot be said for the partner selection process.
So, how do you measure a partner and determine whether they’re right for you and your ERP project? Here, we begin to explore key considerations and why the partner selection process is intrinsic to successful project delivery.
One of the most common causes of frustration, and sometimes even failure when it comes to ERP projects, is unrealistic expectations.
From underestimating implementation costs and timelines to overstating software capabilities, it can often be the start of a fractious and protracted project with more time spent discussing scope and change requests than is actually spent delivering on the services you are paying for.
Combine this with lack of senior stakeholder buy-in, poor change management and inexperienced resources and it’s clear to see why the mere mention of an ERP programme can strike fear into many individuals.
When you commit to a close, long-standing working relationship and a significant financial investment – which you likely will be doing if you’re looking at reinventing your ERP – engaging with a partner that’s right for your organisation, and your ERP implementation and IT transformation is arguably more important than the software itself.
By choosing the right partner, you can overcome common ERP project pitfalls like those mentioned above and, ultimately, enable successful programme delivery.
Honesty and transparency
These may seem two of the more obvious characteristics, but would you notice if a partner were lacking in either? Evidence of these attributes, or a lack thereof, can manifest in a number of ways. Take the budget airline approach: pricing low and charging high for extras isn’t dishonest, but is it truly transparent?
When you engage with a tech partner, you’re reliant on their expertise and you need to be able to trust the guidance they give. If something seems too good to be true, don’t be afraid to challenge and ask for more details, especially where critical business requirements or operations are concerned.
While consistency may not always have a direct impact on the delivery of the project, a lack of it can cause frustration – and, in poorly managed situations, affect timelines. When you choose a partner, you should expect consistency from their project team, approach and messaging.
Resourcing is one area where consistency is at risk of falling short. Whether it’s overselling capabilities in the pre-sales stage only to replace with inexperienced resources when contracts are signed, or regularly rotating key members of the team (project managers, architects, etc.), the partner is often in the driving seat when it comes to ensuring consistency. Even though change is sometimes inevitable and unavoidable, commitments for consistency should be sought early on in the partnership.
Personality and fit
As with most jobs these days, an individual’s personality or team fit is often measured on a similar footing to their competencies – the same should apply when you’re looking for an ERP partner.
Your team and the partner’s team will be working together closely, so considering how well the two gel is important. It is proven that good organisation/team fit can generate higher levels of productivity and a better performance. It might not be practical to interview those you’d be bringing on board, but initial engagements should give you a feel for the team you’d be working with.
The technical competency of a partner and their team should be a given, and the business-as-usual support model you adopt will be unique to your organisation, but support when the project is in progress – and the provision of tools for success at go-live and beyond – is something that can easily be overlooked.
True transformation isn’t just about changing software; business processes will change, your employees’ jobs and responsibilities may change and the way you operate going forward could look very different. Your partner should be able to support you along this journey and equip you with the tools to increase the chances of meeting your strategic goals.
These are just a few of the key attributes to consider when choosing your ERP partner, but the list is by no means exhaustive. While there may be attributes or characteristics to consider above and beyond these examples, the message remains the same: selecting the right partner can prove crucial in making a success of your ERP investment and providing you with a platform to help you meet your strategic objectives.