Setting up a new ERP system requires many decisions. One of those early decisions is whether a business should get support from the ERP vendor or a third-party implementation partner.
The choice might sound simple, because the vendor is supporting the product that it created. This simple analysis overlooks the difference between creating a solution and supporting it, however. It also fails to factor in the differences in the client relationship when a business partners with a third-party implementation partner, and what this brings to the ERP support process.
With that in mind, here are six of the main reasons you should consider getting help from a third-party implementation partner.
Benefit #1: Implementation Partners Focus on Your Business
The business of a third-party ERP implementation partner is helping you put the right systems and processes in place. The focus is on understanding your business and assisting with solutions that further your business goals. The entire relationship is centered on the needs of your business.
This is different from a vendor, which is primarily focused on a specific set of software solutions. Fundamentally, the processes and orientation of a vendor are geared toward its solutions, irrespective of your business and its unique needs. This is different from the partnership that comes from an implementation partner, because the starting point with an implementation partner is your business and not the software.
Vendors are focused on products. Implementation partners are focused on your success.
Benefit #2: You’re Not Just a Number
Implementation partners are far smaller businesses than the typical ERP vendor. This matters, because it informs attention and quality of service. For the same reason that consumers typically have a closer connection with small businesses than larger corporations, you get a deeper and more personalized interaction with an implementation partner than when you go with support from a vendor.
For something as involved and specific as an ERP implementation, a rollout that touches all areas of a business and its unique business processes, the personal touch is a significant success factor.
You get the best of both worlds with an implementation partner. The ERP solution is developed and maintained by a large corporation, but it is supported by a small team of experts that take the time to really know the specific needs of your business.
Benefit #3: Implementation Partners Join Your Team
With an implementation partner, you embed an ERP expert within your company. They serve as an extension of your business, not only taking the time to understand your company but also working side-by-side on technical solutions and workarounds.
It isn’t one-size-fits-all with an implementation partner or like calling technical support. A good implementation partner is what the name suggests: a partner that works with you. While implementation partners bring best practices and considerable experience with ERP implementations, they work within your team and the way you work.
Benefit #4: Truth About the Product
Third-party implementation partners lean on tools and software they trust, but fundamentally they’re neutral about a given technical solution. There’s no conflict of interest, no specific solution to peddle, so a good implementation partner can speak truth about where a given technical solution makes sense and where it does not.
No technical solution is right for every business, and a third-party implementation partner is able to honestly assess and communicate the appropriateness of a given solution for your business. This both helps with creating the right solutions, and it opens the door for a wider range of options.
Benefit #5: Value-Added Services
When you select a third-party implementation partner, you get the vendor solution as well as tools and solutions developed by the implementation partner.
For instance, over the years we have noticed the need for easily connecting SAP’s Business One and Business ByDesign with third-party systems such as ecommerce solutions, 3PL, WMS and QMS systems, among others. So we developed Navigator iConnect, which enables straight-forward integrations with the popular third-party systems our clients frequent use.
Businesses that go with third-party implementation partners not only get the vendor solutions, they also get the value-added services and solutions that come from the implementation partner.
Benefit #6: Greater Focus on Non-Technical Success Factors
With your business at the center for an implementation partner, not a specific technical solution, there’s more focus on the critical non-technical considerations of ERP implementation and adoption.
One of the most critical aspects of ERP implementation is change management, for instance. ERP touches all aspects of a business, and often requires new business processes. Without proper stress on change management, however, employee pushback and slow solution adoption can ruin even the best implementation.
Implementation partners are in the best position to stress these non-technical success factors, both because they have a deeper connection with your ERP project team and because technical solutions are secondary to overall business outcomes.
ERP vendors are great for product development, but look to third-party implementation partners for how to implement and use them.