Any digital transformation is a major undertaking for organizations both large and small, which is why establishing a support structure is so important. It is often tempting to try to limit the cost of a transformation by handling the project internally. When I get calls for assistance months later cost is often already out of control and transformation remediation becomes even more expensive.

No one wants any type of business transformation to fail, which is why it’s essential to construct an unshakable core team comprised both internal and external stakeholders.

Types of ERP Partners:

Software Vendors are companies that sell enterprise software. Navigating their sales processes and keeping your business needs first priority can be a challenge with software vendors when the need to see both the pros and cons with software fit are obscured by the sales cycle.

System Integrators are companies that help you implement the software you have selected. They can bring important insight and expertise to the project. However, they are directly affiliated with the software vendor that supplies the pipeline to their business and can often have an unconscious bias towards solving business problems with customized software.

Independent ERP Consultants are partners that serve as an extension of your team and prioritize your business needs first. They act as your main ally throughout the ERP process by providing independent, unbiased guidance to help you navigate, negotiate, and resource your digital transformation project. Not all ERP consultants are independent and sometimes it is hard to know when they are not.

The Value a Nonbiased Partner Brings to the Table:

Expertise
An agnostic and experienced ERP partner will have likely hundreds of ERP projects under their belt. They can offer a level of understanding and forward-thinking that typically cannot be sourced internally. Investing in their know-how will ensure that you select the appropriate software to fit your needs, can implement it efficiently, and stay on budget.

Resources
One of the biggest reasons ERP projects fail is because businesses attempt a DIY implementation and stretches internal resources too thin. An enterprise digital transformation is likely one of the most complex and expensive projects an organization will take on, so employing a support system that can keep the project moving while your internal teams perform their normal roles and responsibilities is a significant value.

Prioritization
As discussed above, your business needs should always be the first priority. A good partner will remain focused and ready to advocate for what you need at all times. I have seen even the most strong-willed client pushed into a software that doesn’t fit the needs of their organization because they were enchanted by a software vendor’s fancy pitch. They often realize too late that their million-dollar purchase is not a good match for their organization.

What to Consider when Selecting a Partner:

Affiliation
It is absolutely pivotal to select an ERP partner that is only loyal to you and your digital transformation strategic goals. An investment in an ERP consultant should be that of an impartial partner that will align with your objectives. ERP consultants who work for companies that sell ERP software are usually focused on the software they know and sell instead of being well rounded on the needs of your business.

Culture Match
ERP projects are often long and very stressful. As an extension of your team, your independent ERP consultant should fit within your company culture. Choose a partner that will collaborate with your team, help elevate any anxiety, and keep things moving. That is why you invest in them.

Transparency
You should be able to trust your independent ERP consultant and be confident that they will openly share with you important recommendations as well as advocate for you in direct conversations with vendors. They should be strong enough to save you from yourself sometimes, like when it comes to difficult decisions on change management. Trust your gut and your team’s feedback. If you have any reservations – shop around.

Niche
Going with a “Big Box” agency can create the illusion of immense amount of experience. This gets pricey and overwhelming very quickly and tactics for managing the cost start with providing resources with less experience. This defeats the purpose of the choice of the larger agency in the first place. Choosing a boutique agency offers a variety of benefits such as a nimbler team that prioritizes your project, people that you can create a lasting relationship with, and resources that are more accessible.

Have more questions about these partnerships? Please feel free to reach out to me directly via email, or follow me on LinkedIn.

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