How to Avoid Committing to a Shallow ERP Deal

By January 3, 2018Blog

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software enables companies to properly monitor and maintain their core accounting, operations, data and more. ERP is extensive, and full implementation of a system can potentially be a long, complex, and expensive investment. Yet an ERP system may be imperative for growing businesses.

With ERP implementation being such a complex yet crucial process, choosing the right value-added reseller (VAR) can make or break the implementation process. Some VARs might not adequately illustrate the details of their offers to customers, and such negligence will result in confusion and mounting costs during or after the process. Choosing the right VAR and the right ERP solution can become a challenge, but is by no means impossible.

Here are several ways to ensure you do not find yourself in a shallow ERP deal:

 

Research

The first action item for any ERP implementation plan is to conduct research. Adopting any enterprise resource planning solution is a complex process that will always entail serious consideration of many factors. However, attempting to integrate unsuitable ERP will ultimately become even more complicated, time-consuming, and costly.

There are many factors to consider for any individual enterprise when selecting an ERP system. Certain pain points are common across multiple industries, while others are unique to a single business. A VAR that recognizes this will explain how a particular ERP product’s features can fulfill specific operational needs, and what level of customization is available to ensure continued scalability.

Other vendors might not be as forthcoming and leave you uninformed of their software’s true capabilities. Past and ongoing lawsuits over failed ERP implementations have frequently cited dishonest software demonstrations that promised more than could be delivered, among other issues. Experienced VARs will be able to point you to referrals that will help you determine if they are qualified to handle your system.

 

Communication

A two-way dialogue and a certain level of trust with your ERP vendor is integral to keeping your implementation process from getting bogged down in miscommunication. If your chosen VAR cannot maintain transparency with you at any point throughout the procedure, then your business will suffer for it. Without consistent communication on both sides, the probability of an error occurring during or after implementation will increase.

More professional VARs will reach out proactively to ensure their product will be successfully implemented, and remain on call to quickly address anything that could potentially impact that. They will also maintain contact with their software partners to keep them appraised of any potential issues within the programming, and to help solve any that appear during implementation. A lack of communication with either of these actors will result in longer and possibly failed implementations.

 

Planning

Many implementations fail due to improper planning, whether on the client’s or vendor’s side, or both. Any organization considering adopting a new ERP must account for every possible factor, as well as ensuring their VAR partner can promise the same level of commitment. The success of the entire project depends upon the ability of the implementation team to adhere to their scheduled deadlines, as well as the compliance of all business units exposed to the software.

Implementation planning must consider all possible risks that could occur during or after the procedure, including several occurring simultaneously. VARs with sufficient background in managing ERP rollouts will be able to better adapt to evolving circumstances during the procedure, as long as the goals are clear. Less experienced vendors may be ill-equipped to handle changes at any point in the implementation.

 

Experience

When partnering with a VAR, their level of experience is critical. This includes both the extent of their track record as well as their familiarity with your particular situation. The most appropriate reseller will be the one that understands your industry and the specific pain points that come with it.

Veteran reseller companies will have dedicated product implementation teams composed of personnel with applicable experience and accreditations. In addition to certifications in their specific software practices, these consultants will have familiarity with multiple industries, sometimes as former end users of their products.

Experienced VARs will be clear about which industries they have firsthand knowledge with and will have examples of successful implementations they can point to. Vendor track records are very important in evaluating a potential implementation team, as they can help inform you of a VAR’s strengths. Additionally, not only do they provide proof of familiarity with a particular industry, they prove experience with specific software solutions as well. Several VARs might offer different versions of a similar system, but only certain resellers will specialize in their chosen products.

 

Support

A common narrative appearing in failed ERP implementation horror stories is the lack of follow-through on the VAR’s side. Whether done intentionally or not, a vendor that is unable to continue supporting the operation to their contractual expectations will cost the client significant time and money. Past the implementation itself, an ERP solution unsupported by its original implementer or similar provider will also experience further dilemmas that will hurt the system’s output.

Maintaining a dialogue with your VAR is especially important when it comes to technical support, as it ensures that continued access with their team. A reseller that commits to keeping in contact will treat your case as a priority and will address potential errors more quickly. They will also be more likely to have increased availability, so that you can rectify time-sensitive issues in your implementation.

 

Timeliness

As mentioned previously, in addition to financial expenses, ERP implementations can accumulate considerable time costs. Rollouts that keep to schedule will proceed for a considerable length of time no matter what, and projects that exceed their deadlines can go on for years. Accurate estimations for comprehensive implementations can be tricky, but communicating clear expectations with your VAR partner will help develop deadlines.

Less seasoned vendors might give vague or contradicting time estimates, which make it impossible to precisely predict when the ERP can be fully implemented and adopted by all business units. One of the most prominent warning signs of a potentially shallow ERP deal is an inability to consistently maintain a clear implementation schedule.

 

Choose the Right VAR

SWK has been successfully implementing software for over 30 years, and we have maintained our place by providing our partners with flexible technology solutions and comprehensive support. As a Sage Master Developer since 1989, we have been able to customize our products to better address specific industry needs. If you are thinking of implementing Sage but have not chosen a vendor yet, read these five tips for choosing the right VAR.

SWK Technologies, Inc.