“No one ever got fired for hiring [insert big, well-known system integrator here],” or so the saying goes. While I can’t say that I know of anyone that has been fired for this decision, I do know of plenty of organizations that have sued as a result.
As a recovering Big 5 SAP consultant, I know the double-edged sword that the big systems integrators bring to the table. The good news is that even larger organizations don’t need to limit their options to the big guys – there are plenty of viable alternatives to the big SAP and Oracle systems integrators.
First, it is helpful to understand the landscape of the massive SAP and Oracle systems integrators. These big guys generally fall into two buckets:
The biggest of the big systems integrators. These are all the big-name players that we have all heard of. For example, bigger companies often evaluate Deloitte vs. Accenture vs. Capgemini vs. other big, blue chip names. They are typically global in nature and typically have hundreds of thousands of consultants at their disposal.
Technically-focused offshore systems integrators. Though lesser known, these SAP and Oracle systems integrators typically are also very large – with more of an offshore mix than the Accentures and Deloittes of the world. Examples include Infosys, HCL, and Wipro.
The good news that the big guys represent just a small sample of the viable alternatives in the marketplace. They may be the ones with the deepest pocketbooks to make big splashes at the ASUG Sapphire conference each year, but there are a host of other providers with a strong bench, ability to scale, and global capabilities.
Here are some examples of some alternatives to the big SAP and Oracle systems integrators:
There are dozens – if not hundreds – more viable options out there, but hopefully this gives you a sense of alternatives you have.
With the plethora of options out there, it is important to have a clear set of criteria to use to compare alternatives to the big SAP and Oracle systems integrators. Though their importance will vary for every organization, below are some criteria to consider.
Read the reviews of SAP and Oracle systems integrators. It is important to understand what others have experienced when working with the various implementation partners. Just as importantly, these data points can help you understand how to mitigate the weaknesses and risks of any given option. Here is a good, technology-agnostic resource to research and read reviews of leading SAP and Oracle systems integrators – a sort of Yelp directory with client reviews of various alternatives.
Cultural fit. SAP and Oracle consultants can be highly effective when they match your culture well, but they can just as easily be highly ineffective when they don’t. It is important to meet the individual team members – from the engagement manager down to front-line technical consultants – to assess and gauge their level of fit with your team and culture. Because this an intangible (albeit very important) criteria, many companies neglect this variable when assessing options.
Would you prefer to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? You may be enamored by the prospects of working with a blue-chip consulting firm with the firepower to plaster the local airport with cool advertisements, but you should also consider where you stand in the pecking order. For example, you may think you are a large company at $10B in annual revenue, but if that is the case, Accenture and Deloitte are both 4x your size, and they have clients that are exponentially larger and more important than you.
Choosing an SAP or Oracle systems integrator isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Most systems integrators will prefer that you source all your transformation work solely to them, but that need not be the case. Instead, many firms hire systems integrators for what they are good at – functional and technical software consulting – and hire others to handle other people- and process-related aspects of their transformation. After all, systems integrators are not a silver bullet to solve all of your transformation challenges.
Don’t let the fox guard the henhouse. Perhaps most importantly, the systems integrators shouldn’t be the one to self-assess how things are going and where the risks lie. This is akin to the fox guarding the henhouse. Instead, consider hiring an independent third-party consulting firm like Third Stage to independently provide quality assurance and implementation support.
These are just a few alternatives to the big SAP and Oracle systems integrators, along with some ways to evaluate your options. We do this every day for a lot of clients, so feel free to reach out to me with questions or to schedule time to bounce around ideas. I am happy to be a sounding board as you navigate your systems integrator and digital transformation options!