6 Qualities to Look for in an ERP Implementation Partner
Choosing the right partner for an enterprise resource planning implementation is critical. Here are six qualities to look for when selecting your implementation partner.
Putting in a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform is a major undertaking for any company. Whether the organization is replacing systems, upgrading an existing ERP or just starting out, it needs an experienced, reliable implementation partner working in its corner.
Even companies with ample in-house IT expertise can benefit from having a second set of expert eyes and hands on deck as they plan out the project, handle the data migration, manage their cost and time budgets, and benefit from an environment of continuous operational improvement.
“An ERP implementation is not a one-off effort that ends when the new system goes live. The solution must continue to evolve to support new business demands and technology,” Oracle NetSuite points out. “The project team needs to continue to manage the project after deployment, fixing issues and supporting new requirements as they come up.”
Your implementation partner is there to ensure the highest level of success before, during and after your ERP is up and running. To make sure this happens, look for a partner who:
1) Knows your industry. The partner you choose should not only have deep expertise in the technology platform(s) that it’s implementing, but it should have already worked with multiple firms in your specific industry. This will help them understand your challenges on a broader level (outside of just technology) and work to develop a holistic solution that helps drive your company forward.
2) Takes the time to understand your company. Some organizations benefit from turnkey ERP installations, but many others need a more customized, personalized approach to enterprise technology. The partner that takes the time to understand your company’s specific challenges, strengths and goals will be able to provide the most applicable products and services to meet your organization’s needs.
3) Lays out the plan of attack upfront. Most partners will set up a series of implementation benchmarks, effectively giving your company access to specific functionalities of an ERP platform (while others are still in the pipeline), William Jepma writes in 5 Important Questions to Ask an ERP Implementer Before Getting Started. “When approaching an ERP implementation partner, be sure to ask them how long it usually takes them to complete an implementation project,” he suggests. “Your company should also take some time to identify what ERP tools it wants to be prioritized and functional first.
4) Has a proven track record. Not only do they need to be there for set up and implementation, but for as long as you own the system. Be sure you meet in person with the vendor and anyone associated with the implementation. Make sure you understand who is responsible for each part of the implementation process. Will the vendor use a third-party to install everything? What is required from your team?
5) Is in it for the extra-long haul. ERP is not a “one and done” process. Getting the most benefit from your investment requires regular optimization, testing out new modules and honing the solution to meet your specific business needs. Getting there requires a partner that’s in it for the extra-long haul, and that won’t disappear the day after go-live. One of the best ways to determine where your potential partners stand on this spectrum is to ask past customers (preferably from your industry or one that’s similar to yours) about their experiences in this realm.
6) Provides training and support services. Because every new piece of software comes with a learning curve, an implementation partner that offers additional training and support services during and after the implementation process can effectively reduce the amount of stress and effort on your part. “This will be especially important as new functionalities become available during the implementation process,” Jepma writes, “[because] each new feature can change the way an ERP system operates and communicates with itself.”
CEBA Solutions is a long-time Oracle NetSuite Solution Partner that can help your company select, implement and optimize its ERP system and other solutions. We’ll provide as much—or, as little—guidance as you require throughout the process, post go-live and throughout the life of your ERP.