ERP System Integrator vs. Customer: Who Is Really to Blame for your Implementation Challenges?

Last week, Eric Kimberling published a blog on exposing the big ERP system integrators, highlighting quotes from consultants within some of the larger firms and confirming the concept of being “Accentured” or “Deloitted.” It is a real phenomenon and something to definitely watch for both before and during an implementation.

While SIs and VARs (Value Added Resellers) are easy to blame, we do need to clarify that they do not ultimately hold the responsibility for an implementation failure. In the end, the implementing organization holds responsibility for the success or failure of the project as they are the ones who chose to hire Accenture, Deloitte, Capgemini, PwC, KPMG, etc. in the first place. As Eric concluded in his article, the key is for YOU to take control of your ERP system integrator and overall project.

The risk of big ERP systems integrators

Now that the word is out on the tactics of implementation firms – as a company implementing SAP S/4HANA, Oracle Cloud, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Workday or whatever the case may be – you have a responsibility to your stakeholders to do your own due diligence on your system integration firm. The fact is you need someone to implement the system, you can’t do it alone and you need help.

If you are a multi-billion-dollar company, you are international, complex or any combination of the above, you may need a more sophisticated implementation firm. Just because you chose to hire a big implementation partner does not mean that they will necessarily take over the project and destroy your budget; just don’t give them the opportunity.

How to manage the big ERP systems integrators

Here are a few considerations for managing the larger system integrators:

Your ERP systems integrator should not be involved in your ERP software selection. You may be facing an SAP S/4HANA vs. Oracle Cloud vs. Microsoft Dynamics 365 decision, but your systems integrator should not be involved in that evaluation. They are aligned with one or more of the ERP vendors, and their recommendation will be biased depending on which arm of the firm you are working with. Instead, you need an objective evaluation of the technology that is best for your particular digital transformation.

Understand that you, as the implementing company are responsible for quality assurance. Accenture or Deloitte cannot provide quality assurance on their own activities. They will tell you they can but make absolute certain this is being managed internally or by an independent consulting firm. Otherwise, the fox will be guarding the henhouse. If you do not take responsibility for this and let your SI oversee themselves, you will fail, and it will be your fault.

Validate the technical capabilities of the system integration team. Big SIs are notorious for employing kids right out of school and charging their clients to train them. They are also notorious for outsourcing a majority of work to people with limited skillsets. What happens in these scenarios is either budget overruns to fix issues, or failure to implement needed functionality.

Make sure you have leverage on the resources that are brought in, that you have a governance model on resource qualification and acceptance and that you or your QA firm are able to provide your SI with resource direction. Don’t assume that they will staff appropriately or in your best interests.

Don’t assume that your SI should or is able to cover every needed angle of your implementation. Your ERP systems integrator is not a silver bullet. You will likely need additional internal staff, backfilling, independent advisors, OCM specialists, process engineers, technical and integration specialists, data specialists, etc. The concept of being “Accentured” or “Deloitted” stems from these firms embedding themselves in multiple channels across your company and aligning assessments and budgets in their favor. It is your job as the company implementing a new technology to not let this happen.

The problem with big ERP systems integrators

The problem we see is that it is often easier to “just let (insert Big System Integrator Name here) handle it.” Nobody ever stated that implementing ERP or any enterprise application is easy, and it is your job as an implementing organization to staff the project to the best interests of your firm and stakeholders. Your SI is most likely NOT such a stakeholder, and therefore should not be making the staffing and organizational decisions nor managing all activities of the implementation.

At the end of the day, the success of an implementation rests on the company that is purchasing and using the technology – not your systems integrator.

Brian Potts

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