We recently posted an article about the many companies we have seen get “Accentured” over the years. The article created quite a stir, a slew of comments, and great discussion.
The premise of the article is that big system integrators are masters of selling, keeping an army of consultants billing a client for the long-haul, and avoiding accountability or oversight in the meantime. They also tend to take advantage of the fact that their clients often lack the knowledge or experience to know how to “look behind the curtain” of how they are running their projects.
These dynamics could help explain the SAP failure at Lidl, SAP transformation problems at Haribo, or the National Grid SAP lawsuit against Wipro. Every situation is different, and there are usually a variety of contributors to digital transformation difficulties, but the system integrator phenomena described above certainly can’t be helping matters.
I didn’t even write the article, but I received countless messages from people that agreed with me – both in public forums and especially via private message. I was surprised at how many current and former consultants from the large system integrators in question responded. So far, not a single one has disagreed with my observations.
For example, I received messages such as these from both consultants and clients:
Here is the more important question: how can we better manage our system integrators? Here are a few things to help get a handle on this industry problem.
You control your project – not your SAP, Oracle, or Microsoft Dynamics system integrator. Listen to your consultants and understand their advice, but at the end of the day, this is your business and your digital transformation. You are the one who has everything to gain or lose by this initiative. It is important that you dictate the tone, pace, resourcing, and other parameters of the transformation.
Too many companies rush straight into implementation without a clear vision or plan of what they want to be when they grow up. In the meantime, the army of system integrator consultants are running the meter while the client rushes to make critical business decisions. This is why it is important to engage in an implementation readiness phase prior to fully engaging your system integrator.
Your SAP, Oracle, or Microsoft Dynamics system integrator is not a silver bullet to solve all of your digital transformation needs. There are things that your system integrator can’t (or should not) do, so be aware of those weaknesses. For example, effective organizational change management goes well beyond the competencies of system integrators. Traditional organizational change management is dead, so be sure to find the right resources to handle these and other critical workstreams. Third Stage Consulting is one such option.
System integrators often don’t want you to see what’s behind the curtain, and this works to their unfair advantage. The best way to level the playing field is to arm yourself with knowledge. In other words, train and educate your team on digital transformation best practices. Part of the reason we share so many digital transformation and ERP case studies and best practices is to counter this problem.
System integrators typically advise against it, but a strong quality assurance and risk mitigation framework is an excellent insurance policy to hedge against the risks described here. Don’t be lured into the idea of them quality assuring themselves or the fox watching the henhouse, so to speak. This independent quality assurance and risk management should be conducted by an independent third party such as Third Stage Consulting.
It may be a last resort, but don’t be afraid to fire your ERP system integrator. It may be painful, but if you have exhausted all your other options to no avail, it is a lot less painful than a digital transformation failure.
This is an important thing to get a handle on early, so please feel free to reach out to me to discuss your potential SAP S/4HANA, Oracle Cloud ERP, or Microsoft Dynamics 365 system integrator options. Whether you are looking for the best system integrator for your business or looking for ideas to better manage their risks, I am happy to help!