7 Questions to Help You Choose the Best ERP Implementation Partner or Consultant

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An ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution is a significant investment. Choosing the best ERP system for your business is crucial. Equally important is choosing an ERP implementation partner to oversee your project. Without expert planning, design, integration, training, and ongoing support, you'll have little chance of reaching your ERP goals. Finding the right partner is critical to your success!

We've identified seven important questions to help you determine which partner will best meet your organization's needs.

1 – Ask if your prospect is a software publisher or a technology partner

Software publishers generally rely on corporate sales teams to win customers, and then they turn the project over to another team or a third-party implementation provider. The disconnect between the sales and implementation teams often leads to misunderstandings of what is possible vs. what was promised.

A technology partner, on the other hand, will bring design and deployment teams into the sales process. Technically knowledgeable team members will conduct an in-depth analysis of your business scenario as well as your goals and constraints. Thus, they can develop a more accurate proposal and project plan. They will also be on hand during implementation, so there will be fewer budget-challenging surprises.

2 – Ask what you will pay for software licensing once the initial contract expires

If an ERP partner bundles the cost of the software with the implementation, it may give you an incomplete picture of what ongoing use will cost. Some software publishers may keep the initial costs low but double or triple them when your contract is up for renewal. Of course, you could migrate to a different solution at that point, but that would be costly and impractical.

A reputable partner will be upfront on the pricing of the ERP solution you're considering, and they can advise you about what future costs are likely to be.

3 – Ask for customer references of companies in your industry

Working with a partner who has already solved challenges similar to yours is essential. If they have worked with other companies in your industry, they will understand better how your business operates and what you will require from your ERP solution.

Check the references. Be sure the companies worked closely with your prospective partner and were well satisfied with the outcome of their projects. Sometimes, a software publisher might refer you to a corporate customer unconnected to the service company that implemented the solution. You want to know that they are pleased with the software and would also recommend the implementation partner as easy to work with.

4 – Ask who you will be working with throughout your project

After the sale, the lifecycle of your project includes discovery, planning, design, deployment, training, and ongoing support. Team members may change during different phases, but there should be one or two contacts you can always rely on.

It's also a best practice to verify their hand-off process as new teams take over. Are they keeping you up-to-date? Continuity and collaboration are essential as you proceed from sales to implementation to support.

5 – Ask if the solution is pre-configured or customized

A partner may offer a pre-configured solution to decrease initial costs and win sales. What they refer to as minimal customizations could actually require multiple change orders that delay the project and significantly increase the time and price.

Each business has unique processes and requirements, even within the same industry. Work with a partner with the skills and experience to understand your way of working and your requirements. They can configure your ERP solution to meet your needs and adapt processes to suit the way you work.

Their proposal may be higher than the pre-configured solution, but it will also be more accurate. The project will be likelier to stick to the timeframe and budget with the best results for your business.

6 – Ask about your ERP implementation partner's additional software expertise

Your new ERP solution must integrate with other enterprise applications such as CRM, e-commerce, and perhaps warehousing and manufacturing. Work with a partner experienced with connecting those applications to ensure real-time data flows.

You may want to add ISV or third-party solutions to your ERP system. If your technology partner is familiar with those solutions, making the necessary connections will be much easier. And you'll avoid the headaches associated with dealing with multiple vendors.

7 – Ask how long this ERP solution will keep up with your business

If you choose a cloud-based solution, upgrades are automatic and included in your licensing agreement. But be sure you understand how licensing costs might change.

You'll want to know whether your partner can configure the solution to scale with your company. Can they set up the application and the supporting infrastructure to handle increased transactions? Can they safeguard your system from cyber threats and make sure you are always compliant with changing regulations?

Assess your ERP Implementation partner's core competencies

In addition to asking these seven questions, you should also pay attention to your potential partner's core competencies. Look for qualities like the ability to engage, collaborate, and build relationships with your internal project team. Be sure they will help facilitate the transition through training and coaching on your new ERP solution.

See how well your potential ERP implementation partner understands how the system components connect to your business goals. It's not just about knowing how to sell or implement software. The right partner also needs to know how to configure the solution to work within the context of your business operations and corporate goals.

Western Computer has delivered more than 1,100 successful implementations over the past 35 years by relying on our customer-centric, consultative approach. Contact us today to learn more about our Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions and how they can help improve your business processes and efficiently meet your customers' needs.

By Western Computer, www.westerncomputer.com


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