There are plenty of articles and blogs circling the internet surrounding tips and best practices for selecting the appropriate ERP software, and with good reason. Choosing the wrong system can be devastating for a business.
What is not so highly covered, however, is the importance of selecting the right SAP S/4HANA, Oracle Cloud ERP, or Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation partner - the boots on the ground and the face and names of who you and your system users will be working with. In some cases, the software provider will provide implementation services, but in many you will have the option of working with a value-added reseller (VAR) or systems integration firm (SI).
This decision is arguably as important, if not more important than selecting the right software. This is the key to ensuring a successful SAP S/4HANA implementation or a successful Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation. Consider the following when determining who will implement your new enterprise technology:
“Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum” sounds great, but take into consideration what this means. Software vendors use certifications as a marketing tool as well as actual qualification. Having a valuable metal reference next to a reseller name makes the entire package more appealing and there may not be much more behind the certification that a right to resell.
Many vendors charge firms to acquire and maintain certifications. Since this is another source of income for vendors, consider the idea that qualifications may be somewhat lax. This furthers the idea that your system integrator typically isn’t the silver bullet to solve all of your digital transformation needs.
Certification may mean different things to different vendors. Microsoft Dynamics, for example, offers its “Silver” or “Gold” certifications based on competency rather than the software package itself. When a reseller states “Gold Certified Partner” next to its name, this may only reference limited capabilities.
This may or may not be bad, but you will need to validate the percentage of business and resources dedicated to the software of your interest. Some of the larger system integrators, for example, may offer implementation for a range of Tier 1 and Tier 2 solutions, but their prime focus is on the larger Tier 1 systems. Thus, their recruiting and training efforts for other software products may not carry much weight.
This is true for any consulting firm, but the reseller market is very incestuous, and consultants come and go. If you are looking for specific vertical experience, for example, be sure to verify that the consultants assigned to your project would be those that carry the actual experience.
This is where the term “VAR” initially came from. Some providers simply sell and implement the core software platform, but many bring custom builds and advanced functionality to enhance the base software. Some may also offer custom integration with third-party software options.
This is increasingly important in the case of custom IP or integrations, but you want to be sure you are selecting a partner that will be around for you. Without getting into financial backing, consider the length of time in business, if they have switched or recently gained certification or partnership with the software provider, if they carry long-standing references and the general size of their team from a sales, implementation, development and support perspective.
Many times, a software provider will tell you that you don’t have a choice in who you partner with for implementation. The fact is, you do. You have the choice to select a different software, and you therefore have the right to justify the partner firm providing services. Your options expand well beyond the well-known system integrators like Deloitte, Capgemini, and Accenture.
The software vendor may be able to give some direction, but keep in mind their recommendations are generally provided only by geography and size, and often times they are promoting resellers based on internal politics and financial incentives.
Given the complexity of your organization and needs, don’t hesitate to reach out to independent ERP consultants to help provide support in selecting the right implementation partner. Just be certain that the firm you call is not financially aligned with any resellers. Even if you are looking for SAP consultants or a Microsoft Dynamics 365 consultants, there is a huge amount of value in those that represent your interests – not the vendor’s.
This is a growing concern across the “independent” software space, where consulting groups will form relationships and partnerships with system integrators to funnel business in their direction for a fee. Resellers have caught on to this trend and are attaching themselves to software advisory firms at an alarming rate.