Top 5 Ways Your ERP Partner Can Make or Break Your ERP and Why
We all know that Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution software is a necessary tool to nurture growing businesses to reach their full potential. What isn’t often discussed is how, despite their necessity, if the wrong steps are taken, ERP solutions run the risk of being just as damaging to businesses as they are beneficial. This may seem like a bold statement, but we’re going to say it anyway:
Ideally, your ERP partner will guide you through the process of determining which ERP you will use, as well as how it will be set up and maintained. We’re not saying we can predict the future, but we can help you understand how your Partner can affect your ERP, so you can make an informed decision when choosing that Partner. Who knows, maybe it will be us! Here are the top 5 ways your Partner can make or break your ERP:
1) The Software Selection
Choosing new software for any aspect of your business can be a challenge, but selecting a new solution that will be the primary tool used by your company to conduct business can be overwhelming. This is a crucial decision for the future of your company, and working with the right Partner makes all the difference. In order for you to have confidence in your ERP Partner’s recommendation:
- You need to be sure they support multiple solutions and are presenting the best solution for you, not the only one they support.
- They should have significant experience in deploying & supporting the recommended solution and have first-hand experience with customers in your industry. The industry insight is key in knowing not only what potential speedbumps may come up along the implementation path, but also in knowing the unique ways the solution can help your business that even you might not know about.
- The total cost of owning the ERP should be easily justified based on the estimated return on investment.
To provide you with all of this insight and an accurate ROI, your selected Partner needs to take the time for a thorough discovery. Following detailed assessment they should provide a Solution Mapping Document that is unique to your business, outlining how the proposed solution is a strategic fit within your organization. Demonstrating how a solution is going to manage all of your business activities in a 3-hour demo is not easily done, so it’s important to understand what’s under the hood, including a history of that solution and what its future is. Working with the right Partner significantly reduces the risks associated with software selection, and ensures a successful deployment.
2. A Collaborative Implementation
Who, What, When, Where, Why.
These are the questions that need to be answered during your software selection, and implementation is the phase where those answers are acted on. It is key to select a Partner who actively chooses to collaborate with you versus making all the decisions themselves. You have important business processes that need to be addressed, and a new software selection may afford you the option to improve on some of those. Having a Partner who can recommend best practices for your business is vital and making these decisions in a collaborative manner is essential for your success.
Who & What – Establish a positive rapport with your Partner and make your team available for planning and setup activities to both build confidence in the solution and get buy-in from your team.
When – Work against an established timeline with detailed activities and events, so your project doesn’t fall off the rails.
Why – You need a Partner who is accountable and does exactly what they say they are going to do. Finding a Partner with highly qualified people, that are engaged and easy to work with, is a necessary part of a successful implementation.
3. Training and Change Management
You and your executive team might be very excited about moving to a new robust solution, but your Operations Manager and Accounts Payable Clerk might not share that enthusiasm. A good Partner makes the necessary adjustments, ensuring that all staff members receive adequate training and one-on-one assistance to help each person overcome their fear of change. You need a Partner with the ability to keep things simple. This helps your staff gain confidence in both the solution and the Partner. When you go live with the new solution, it’s important that the overall business disruption is at a minimum, and that everyone using the solution on the first day already has a comfort level with the software.
4. Ongoing Support
You need to choose a Partner who is in it for the long haul, with a proven track record and a team of people who aren’t all planning their retirements. Support in Year 5 is just as important as support on Day 1. This support also includes aspects outside the main solution, so you need to select a Partner with expertise in connected solutions that may not apply to your business today, but will apply when you expand your business activities.
You need a Partner who is reliable and responsive, who will have the necessary resources to take a quick call about an EFT (electronic funds transfer) payment, but also who can send someone onsite when your server crashes. You need to feel confident that the Partner you’re choosing is a team that you’ll be comfortable working with for the length of your business… someone who has displayed their desire to have you as a customer for life. Changing Partners can often be more difficult than changing software, and the right Partner should have to earn your trust, and be motivated to keep it.
5. Future Vision
The right Partner is one who has listened to you from day one, and who has the ability to make a powerful impact on your organization through collaboration and empowerment. You have big dreams and goals for your company’s future, and your Partner should be one who enables you to achieve them. Your relationship with your Partner should be nothing less than a Strategic Partnership to help you make the necessary adjustments in your business to be a leader in your industry.
As an ERP partner since 1995, The Answer Company has always strived to be the partner described above. Our thorough discovery methodology uncovers and defines both your current & future needs, and then matches a solution & Partner to them, so you not only meet your needs but can achieve your goals.