In the early stages of your ERP project, you’ll need to choose an IT services provider – an external team to help implement and optimise your software as smoothly as possible. With so much at stake, it’s easy to see why very few businesses attempt to run an ERP project without an IT services provider.
An IT services provider (also known as an implementation partner) will work with you to set up your ERP, bringing expertise in software implementations (and preferably bringing expertise in implementing the specific ERP you have chosen). They will act as your guide to setting up your system and do specific configuration or development based on the business requirements you define and provide.
Selecting an ERP implementation partner
The first step towards choosing a partner is documenting your requirements and sharing this with the market, giving them the opportunity to show you what they can do – known as a request for proposal (RFP) process. If you’re not sure about this process, read our recent RFP blog post or download our handy RFP template here.
Once the results are in, you can begin the evaluation process. There is a lot to consider during the partner selection process – to help simplify and track your partner proposals, we’ve created a useful ERP proposal requirements checklist.
Six traits of a great ERP implementation partner
An experienced implementation partner will not only help to inform your choice of ERP software, but also ensure you’re putting in place a system that really grows with your business – particularly important if your project leader is non-technical or inexperienced with ERP implementations.
1. Highly recommended
Ideally, your chosen partner will have proven close ties with the leading software providers and be accredited on your preferred ERP software vendor’s website, such as Wiise’s partner directory.
2. (The right) experience
ERP implementations are complex projects and while partners might be familiar with a range of different technologies, most will tend to specialise in just one or two. Do some digging to make sure your partner is an expert in your chosen ERP software.
Check that your partner has relevant industry certifications and request credentials for the individual team members who would be assigned to your project. (You can also find this information on LinkedIn and cross-check with the certification provider.) For example, if you’re looking for a professional to implement Wiise or Microsoft’s Business Central, you’d be looking for a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Functional Consultant certification or familiarity with the AL programming language.
3. Industry expertise
Different industries have unique requirements for ERP systems. For example, a food and beverage manufacturer might need compliance with BRC, which might mean tracking traceability of raw materials, product allergen labelling requirements or temperature-controlled storage. A partner that’s familiar with your industry will be able to offer unique features and tools that will maximise value for your business.
4. Good track record
Look for industry awards and recognition, as well as customer case studies and references. You should be able to find these on their website, or via a Google search.
5. Understand IT and business processes
Your partner should understand not only how to set up your fundamental accounting modules but also business processes like quote-to-cash or manufacturing processes specific to a product or industry.
6. Supportive – today and tomorrow
You’ll need a partner that can provide reliable support, training and maintenance services – both during and after the implementation. On-going, long-term support is vital in ensuring your ERP can continue to grow and adapt with your business, so ensure you’ve fully checked support arrangements (which should be clearly stated in the partner’s Service Level Agreement).
Six red flags to avoid in an ERP implementation partner
1. Lack of experience
Without adequate experience, a partner may not have the level of understanding needed to provide quality implementation, customisation and support services.
An ERP implementation is a complex process – any promises that sound too good to be true, probably are. Make sure to request a detailed full scope of work for your job and proposed pricing, with itemised costs – this should include training, support and UAT and any customisations you expect.
3. Low-cost bidding
A low-cost bid may seem tempting, but it may hint at a lack of expertise and understanding of your business requirements. Make sure you request at least three proposals and do a thorough comparison to uncover any hidden costs.
4. Scope creep
Scope creep occurs when the project's scope expands beyond what was originally agreed upon, resulting in additional costs and delays. Ensure that the implementation partner clearly defines the project scope and timeline and provides regular updates to avoid scope creep.
5. Lack of training
Ensure that the partner offers comprehensive training to your staff on how to use the new ERP system. A lack of training can result in low user adoption rates and reduced efficiency.
Partner ‘lock-ins’ occur when the implementation partner holds onto any custom code that they have written, when creating new integrations and APIs. Understand who has ownership of any custom codes that are created for your system – and how will they be made available for future updates.
For more information about selecting an implementation partner and managing an ERP migration project, read our ERP Implementation 101 Guide: A Practical Guide to Managing the Move.
Alternatively, download our free ERP implementation proposal checklist.
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