While choosing the right system for your company’s needs is always vital, an equally important but often overlooked concern is choosing the right partner to handle the implementation. The correct partner will manage the project to ensure minimal disruption while delivering a system that will ensure business growth, the wrong partner could potentially stumble through the process, costing time and money and causing untold disruption. With so many issues to consider while choosing partner, how can you be sure to pick the right one? The answer is simple: Ask tougher questions.
Every potential partner will have a standard array of answers at their disposal for the most common questions, but asking deeper questions that cause potential partners to think beyond their FAQs will reveal far more about their practices, operations, and commitment to client success. A great technology partner will welcome the hard question, eager to share what makes them the right choice.
In an effort to help companies narrow down those questions we have put together a list of questions businesses should be asking prospective partners, gathered from information and answers provided by top ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) providers. By using these nine questions companies can ensure they choose the right technology partner for their unique needs.
Keep reading for a high level overview or get the complete eBook “9 Questions Nobody Asks Their ERP Partner…But Should” here
1. WHAT MAKES YOUR IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS SUCCESSFUL?
In recent years business management systems have become increasingly user-friendly and intuitive, there are still inherent difficulties in the implementation process. An ideal partner will fully understand your company’s business requirements and will be able to tailor their process to you needs in order maximize efficiency and profits. How can you know if their process is right for you? Ask them what it is!
The right partner will be able to clearly:
- Define the Process
- Discuss Potential Challenges
- Provide References
2. HOW CAN OUR COMPANY CONTRIBUTE TO PROJECT SUCCESS?
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is believing that their ERP implementation partner will be handling all the work. To get the most out of your implementation it is important that everyone in the company is understanding the process and contributing to it. There are three key areas companies can focus on:
- Executive Leadership
- Reduce Fear Factors
- Give Employees Time They Need to Be Successful
3. WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TO CHANGE MANAGEMENT AND TRAINING?
Change is never easy, and with a properly executed ERP implementation there will be lots of change to deal with. The ideal partner will not only be adept at handling the issues that arrive from these changes, but will have a plan on how to mitigate it before the implementation even begins.
- Prepare for Resistance
- Take a Phased Approach
- Training Time
4. HOW WILL WE DEFINE AND MEASURE SUCCESS?
Before any project is undertaken it is vital to define the goals of the implementation. The ideal partner will be focused on how their service will help deliver those goals. There are several keys to consider:
MEASURE THE TRANSFORMATION
An ERP implementation should always be transformational for your company. A new ERP system should allow your business to achieve its goals more effectively and efficiently, whatever those goals are. The right partner will be able to give you clear benchmarks with which to measure this transformation.
CLEARLY DEFINE SUCCESS METRICS
For every project objective your selected partner should be able to provide you with Key Performance Indicators which will allow you to monitor progress. These KPI’s should be used to provide feedback throughout the entire process on the progress your company is making during the implementation. These metrics provide the groundwork for accountability on all sides.
5. HOW WILL YOU ASSIGN PEOPLE TO THIS PROJECT?
The success of an implementation project is not determined by the sales team, but rather by the project delivery team, a varied crew made up of many different roles. Ask your potential partner if assignments will be made based on expertise related to your unique business requirements and not just because employees have open time. The right partner will be more than happy to provide a brief overview of why the assigned team members are right for your implementation.
EXPERTS WITH PEOPLE SKILLS
Expertise is obviously vital any successful project, but an equally important but often overlooked factor is the people skills involved in a first-rate partnership. Each team member assigned to your company’s implementation should bring not only expertise, but also people-skills to your project.
6. WHAT MAKES YOUR FIRM MORE QUALIFIED THAN YOUR COMPETITORS?
Every ERP provider will tell you they are the right partner for you. In order to weed out the ones who only say the right things from the ones who truly do them, an important question to ask is “What makes you more qualified?” Several key considerations to keep an eye out for are:
- Industry Experience
- A Trusted Advisor
7. HOW DO YOU HANDLE CUSTOMIZATIONS?
Standard ERP functionality is designed to support the most common business needs and practices. Most businesses, however, require processes that are unique to their needs and not included in the “standard” setup. Often these can be handled by Independent Software Vendor (ISV) solutions, but other times custom code developent is required. Your partner should be able to answer any questions you have about the solution customization process.
As mentioned above, choosing a partner with experience in your particular industry can make a huge difference in the success of an implementation project. A partner with knowledge of the unique challenges your industry poses will be able to offer informed opinions on when ISV solutions may be able to bridge functionality gaps, or when custom solutions are required.
DETERMINE THE BEST COURSE OF ACTION
During the requirements analysis phase of the implementation process your project team will uncover any suggested or required customizations. The right partner will have a plan for how to evaluate your options and choose the best course of action for your business.
By ensuring you ask these questions in the planning stage you protect your business from costly mistakes or gaps in your implementation.
8. HOW OFTEN DO YOU GO OVER BUDGET ON IMPLEMENTATIONS?
There are a variety of reasons an implementation can go over budget. With the possibility of scope creep, where a project expands to address more than originally planned for, and the ever present danger of complications, it is important to ask up front how often their projects go over budget, and what their processes are when it occurs. Some important topics include:
- Established Process and Clear Plan
- Active Project Management
- Change Orders
9. HOW DOES THE SIZE OF YOUR ORGANIZATION INFLUENCE YOUR SERVICES?
The size of your selected partner will have may have a direct impact on how your project is managed. A larger firm may have a bigger pool of resources to pull from, while a smaller, local, or industry-focused firm may have more personalized service. There are several key points to consider:
- A Deep Bench
- Experience Counts
- Commitment to Training
- Company Culture
Arm yourself with the knowledge you need to partner up with the correct provider.
PICK A PARTNER READY TO ANSWER THE TOUGH QUESTIONS
Finding the right partner for your implementation starts with finding the partner who will help you make the right choices. By asking these tough questions before choosing your provider you will save you and your company time, money, and headaches in the long run by partnering with the right provider the first time, ensuring a smooth, on time, and on budget implantation.