Is It Time to Fire Your SAP, Oracle, or Microsoft Dynamics System Integrator?

In my 12 years as an ERP expert witness and digital transformation specialist, I’ve seen more transformation failures than I’d like to admit. With the news of recent failures (the SAP failure at Lidle, SAP problems at Haribo, National vs. Wipro lawsuit, etc.), it seems that the industry is becoming numb to the realities of transformation challenges.

I have been an SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft Dynamics expert witness for a fairly equal mix of plaintiffs and defendants. In other words, both the implementing organizations and their software vendors and system integrators have hired our team and I to analyze their cases and opine on their situation. Every case is different and has different dynamics at play, but the patterns are often the same.

The good news is that this is your project. You can determine whether or not is successful. And, you can do so without having to necessarily fire your system integrator.

Here are four steps to get your project on track and ensure that your transformation success or failure is not solely in the hands of your integrator:

1.Retain (or regain) control of your SAP, Oracle, or Microsoft Dynamics ERP transformation

The first is to recognize that your transformation should not be outsourced. Unlike offshoring software development or outsourcing your manufacturing to a third-party, you need to own your digital transformation. This is a cultural, people, organizational, and operational change that you need to own. Just because they have access to a deep bench of functional and technical experts (and an even better sales machine) doesn’t mean that Deloitte, Accenture, or Capgemini should own the transformation. You should.

2.Correct your internal transformation flaws and shortcomings

The next step is to remediate any shortcomings in the way you are managing the transformation. For example:

  • Have you dedicated appropriate internal resources to the project?
  • Do you have a clear blueprint for how you would like to deploy operational and organizational change management?
  • What does your entire solution look like? (hint: it is probably not limited to just one software vendor)
  • How will you ensure governance and project quality assurance over your system integrator?
  • How will you define transformation success?
  • How will you ensure alignment between the day-to-day details of the transformation and the overall strategy of your organization?
  • How will ensure compliance and mitigate cybersecurity threats?

These are just a few examples of the questions that should be answered to ensure you are doing your part to make your project successful. And don’t worry: if you don’t know how to answer these and other critical questions, then move on to step #3.

3.Augment your ERP system integrator with independent, third-party strategic consulting support

An independent, third-party, and strategic ERP consulting partner is one of the best ways to ensure you do your part to accomplish #1 and 2. You and your system integrator probably don’t have the expertise to do all the things that need to be done.

Your ERP system integrator isn’t a silver bullet, so augment their deficiencies with a consulting partner that isn’t incentivized to staff an army of technology consultants on your dime. Third Stage is an example of such a strategic consulting partner that can act as an extension of your team.

4.Fire and/or litigate against your SAP, Oracle, or Microsoft Dynamics system integrator (optional, but hopefully not)

When all else fails and you’ve done everything in your power to accomplish steps #1 through #3, it may be time to point your finger at the system integrator. Have they done all they can to do their part to make the project successful?

If the answer is “no,” then refer to #1 again and take action. Perhaps you find another system integrator. Perhaps you augment with other third-party skills. Or, worst case scenario, perhaps you hire an attorney who can help you litigate against them if the deficiencies and damages are great enough (contact me in confidence if you need recommendations:

You will make your SAP, Oracle, or Microsoft Dynamics digital transformation successful

Success is by no means out of reach. It’s not up to chance. And it’s certainly not dependent on any third parties – though the right ones can help.

Follow these three (or maybe four) steps and you will effectively reach the third stage of digital transformation success.

Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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