10 things to look out for from an ERP Partner before appointing him
Let’s face it..!! ERP implementation is as expensive as its effective. Without the right implementation partner, your investment on ERP would turn non-profitable overtime, and we haven’t spoken about the hassles yet.
While your business is busy carrying out its core job, you need someone very reliable, who would keep your ERP implementation in place, as per your requirement and fewer roadblocks. While there are thousands of ERP partners available across the Globe, your bet would be to choose the best one among them (who would also fit your pocket).
Keeping few key things in mind, here are some of the pointers you may want to include in your questionnaire before interviewing your first ERP partner.
In simple terms, it refers to, if the partner is all-around with the software alone or if he is well versed with the Industry also. The former requires good experience with varied industries.
There is a fine line between these two set of partners. While the one who holds a command on the software may be useful with generic and straightforward industries like Distribution and Retail, a partner who holds an edge over an industry, would prove efficient for complex-operating industries like Manufacturing and Finance.
We emphasize on the phrase ‘There is a fine line between these two set of partners’ because, there isn’t a thumb-rule that set one partner over other in terms of value, but your judgment on this ‘fine difference’ can bring about a lot of value to your business, and also, let’s not forget about the hassle or satisfaction that comes along with a wrong or right judgment, respectively.
End of the day, an ERP partner is here to have an ERP implemented for your Business as Solution. He is an expert and he does this for a living. But, it should always be the business, taking a call on whether the expertise is good enough for its requirement.
This is the key to identify the partner that you would want to work with. His work with clients would tell you if the partner can handle your requirement efficiently. If a ‘reputed’ brand is associated with the partner, you know that he already went through a gruesome journey, through toughest of the requirements. If he is on good terms with the client and still breathing – He is reliable. Period..!!
Another thing to look out is the experience across Industries. If the portfolio reflects working with one particular industry consistently, it’s obvious that the partner has gained a lot of exposure on the Industry and is well versed with its specific requirements. If your business operates with the same industry, you know who to narrow down to. If not, you always have other resumes with you. A rich and varied portfolio can add value to your business need.
ERP is a software system, and like any other software, it is expected to be customizable. Some of the standard processes might not work with your industry, so you come up with customizations that might be only particular to how you want it to execute. This would require the technical team to adapt quickly to the requirement and work on the solution.
Not only the software, but business problems also need to be understood, strategized and solved. This would require a partner who is quick in adaptability to add more value to your business need.
Analyzing a partner’s ability to adapt is bit tricky, but few consultations and the previous experience would shed some light on it.
Most experts club ‘flexibility’ with ‘adaptability’ when talking about ERP partners; but we beg to differ. Flexibility and adaptability are 2 sides of the same coin, but they play roles which are value additions in themselves. We refer to flexibility in terms of how the overall development, implementation and support would be handled.
For example, when building a complex software, Industries face the problem of multiple changes before Go Live. When the product comes out in flesh, you would be surprised how different it would look and feel than what you imagined it to be. This is nothing new and every Industry has faced it. At this point, you would want to have a partner who can work on minor tweaks without going back to the contract, just because he is flexible. Saves you a lot of dissatisfaction and ensures the ease when working with.
Another example is in case of any critical software breakdown which can threaten the Business; your partner should be flexible enough to barge in irrespective of the time of the day and day of the week. A flexible ERP partner would keep client’s business first and contract terms later.
Like we discussed earlier, one has to sit through several meetings to determine the approach that your ERP partner would take towards working through your Business Solutions.
What more on offer
When you talk to your ERP partner, you would talk on bundled packages. Your partner would tell you what is included in the package. A healthy package should include everything that would solve your business problem. Additional add-ins, extended iterations, Development Methodology are some things to be observed while choosing a package. You would (anyways) have the opportunity to negotiate further, so nothing to turn back.
An important aspect of how smoothly your ERP integration would go will depend on how your ERP partner and your business coordinate with each other. An experienced and all-rounded ERP partner would lay down the project milestones and review meeting before starting the project. His layout would give you a complete map of project handling and also the road ahead.
Product Development Methodology plays a key role in successful fulfillment. There are various Industry-Standard methods, which lay down the road for development.
- Some of the most followed Methodologies are
If your ERP partner holds any one of the Industry Standard Certification, it would mean that he could lay down the plan for you well and would be your best bet. But, it’s always best to research about which methodology would suit the best for your requirement. If your business had already tried and failed a particular methodology, it’s advisable to give room for a new one, albeit, with proper execution.
ERP implementation is not a one-man’s job. Depending on the kind of business requirement and customization, it requires a team size of 5 to 15 people. A right mix of developers, analysts, testers and leads ensure that the development is smooth and as required. A right ERP partner should be able to blend in the right resources, by experience and number, for any project.
Remote or onsite – Needless to say, remote support will cost you much cheaper than onsite; however, the value proposition would still differ comparatively. You can have a partner from a different location than your business if they come at a cheaper cost, but the support would mostly be remote. If you feel you need to have an onsite support, you would need to negotiate terms with your ERP partner.
Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC)
Implementation is one part, AMC is another. It is the maintenance contract that you would sign with your ERP partner to carry on with support services like troubleshooting, maintenance, training etc, post the ERP Implementation. Each ERP business will have their own AMC terms. Comparing a couple of contracts from different ERP partners would give you clear differentiation regarding whose offer is better.
Again, not saying that someone with a tight AMC will not be suitable. It all depends on the judgment that you need to make after rationalizing risks and benefits.
We put this at the end because this actually comes in the end. After taking all the above points into consideration, the last thing that you would look at is the final cost that your company would be billed. It completely depends on how and why your ERP partner is calculating his bill. You would be surprised to see how the final costs vary depending on the region of the ERP partner. For example – A partner from the US would cost you 10x times more than an ERP partner in India. We have detailed the cost of ERP Implementation HERE. You might want to read it to have a better understanding of the cost involved.
It is not always ok to go for a Partner who quotes less. With technology, there is a rule going – “You get what you pay for”. A partner who ticks all the right boxes in your list and cost tad higher is always better than anyone who quotes 10x times lesser.
While the decision making is purely a Business call, we tried to lay out as many possible ways that can help you make that final decision. If you have any pointers from your experience that we missed above, we would like to hear them. Feel free to throw them as a comment below.