We certainly like to bash them. It’s fun, easy to do, and they usually deserve it. But every now and then software vendors actually do go out of their way to make your business better. And when that happens, they deserve credit.

I know, the first thought going through your mind is “isn’t that what we are paying them for, to make our business succeed- so why should we thank them for taking all of our money?” The reason is, we need to encourage good behavior in our industry. Similar to a three-year old not coloring the walls, we need to promote good behavior, even if it seems obvious to the rest of us.

Below are a few scenarios that are rare coming from enterprise software vendors that should be rewarded when you see them:

They tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear

This is especially true during the sales cycle when we typically get flowered with ideas of simple, easy, out-of-box and low-risk implementation. Wouldn’t it be nice if vendors shared actual case studies besides just the 1% that actually did go without a hiccup?

In order for such honest messaging to work, however, it important that anyone purchasing ERP is educated enough to understand truth from fiction. This is the reason why vendors tend to obscure the truth; avoiding it tends to work. (For more on this, read our recent article about ERP vendor and industry hoaxes to be aware of).

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They provide accurate status reports

Keep in mind that a vendor’s goal is to get you implemented, up and paying maintenance ASAP. When they find a potential issue during implementation, the tendency is to brush it under the rug, hope it will go away and pray the client won’t notice as this could put risk on the project timeline. This is a common ERP project management breakdown that can lead to problems later on.

This is especially true in fixed-bid contracts. If you see “all green” across your status report unless it is the very start of the project this should be a red flag. Some yellow and even red, while not ideal, are far better to see than a fake “green”, and your vendor or implementation partner should be recognized for sharing an accurate report and discussing with you how to mitigate.

They take ownership of and responsibility for integration with their partner platforms

Bringing in partner platforms is becoming the norm for ERP implementations. It can be beneficial in acquiring leading functionality and navigating best of breed ERP software scenarios and is the vendors’ way to keep control of the sales cycle as well as the project.

What tends to happen, however, is as soon as an issue arises with an integration, missing functionality or a data issue, they are very quick to point fingers at the very same partner firms they brought in. When a vendor takes responsibility to navigate issues and questions with partner firms, give them a thumbs up.

They suggest that you delay go-live where appropriate

Looking back to point 2 above, vendors want to get you up and running as quickly as possible. This can often include “rushing” an ERP go-live decision and bypassing critical testing or training. If a vendor suggests that it may be best to wait to flip the switch, listen to them. The long-term costs of going live prematurely can far outweigh the costs of delaying the go-live.

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They share ideas and provide no-cost improvements to your existing system

Once a system is live, a software vendor should remain as your business partner long-term. We all tend to get busy, however, and account maintenance (different from system maintenance) often takes a back seat. They are usually eager to “sell” you the newest add-on module or additional license seats.

But what if vendors were to simply call you up and offer suggestions on how to optimize your existing platform? Offering ideas around new functionality or what a similar business is doing to improve use of the same software is a rare sight. If you do get this, you should be the one taking your account executive out to lunch, not the other way around.

Agreed, this all may sound a bit idyllic, but these are not just my creative ideas. Although rare, they do happen, and similar to when you see a youngster chose NOT to throw your new shirt into the toilet, say “Thank You.”

Above are some of the concepts that Third Stage helps to bring to life as we help guide our clients to a successful transformation. Please contact us if you would like more information or have questions surrounding navigating your relationship with your software vendor. We are happy to be a sounding board as you continue your digital transformation journey!

Brian Potts

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