Selecting the right ERP or accounting system is a complex process that requires focus on a variety of issues. Most teams spend time selecting an ERP package based on how each software candidate fulfills key requirements, budget, and preferred implementation timeframe. However, a key compownent is usually missing—the ERP System Integrator (SI). Selecting the right ERP SI to support planning and implementation can be as important as selecting the right ERP package.
A good SI has critical knowledge of how an ERP system functions within a variety of business environments. Functional knowledge helps an SI determine which configuration options best support future-state activities.
Below, we’ve identified how successful project teams can select the best SI for the job. Criteria include depth of resources, industry experience, implementation approach, and support capabilities.
Depth of Resources
A deep bench is one of the most important factors to consider when evaluating an SI. One of the biggest risks to a project occurs when an SI team member performs poorly or leaves. The chosen SI should be able to backfill any position without difficulty. The location of SI consultants is another important consideration given the cost of travel.
The following considerations help define which SI offers the depth of resources needed:
- Number of SI resources
- Location of SI resources
- Existence of a development/customization group
- Use of third-party contractors
- Access to the implementation team members during the selection process
- Qualifications within the industry
- Cultural fit
SI industry experience pays dividends during the system design process. The SI team should be able to provide practical, functional, and efficient alternatives to unexpected scenarios based on past experience. Most experienced SIs catch issues before finishing design to avoid unexpected problems or changes in configuration. If an unorthodox problem arises, a good SI will call an industry peer and ask them to walk the client through their process.
The following reference criteria will help define an SI’s industry experience:
- Industry-specific projects
- Simple projects within the industry
- Challenging projects within the industry
- Cross-industry knowledge that may apply
The SI’s approach is by far the most important part of the SI scorecard. Most implementation approaches are very similar across software tier. Tier one packages, like Oracle or SAP, are implemented with large SI teams on site throughout the project. Tier two packages, like MicroSoft Dynamics or SAP Business One, are implemented using the homework model with part-time SI resources.
The part-time model for ERP Systems Integrator resources can work but requires oversight. Many resources no longer want to travel and would prefer to work remotely. Making sure they’re available and on site during critical ERP implementation phases (e.g. design, testing, training) is key to success.
Make sure an SI’s implementation approach includes the following critical components:
- A change management plan
- A certified project manager with industry experience
- Ample time with key ERP Systems Integrator resources on site
- Access to the system within the first few weeks of the project
- An industry-specific data model to drive key metrics and master data setup
- Comprehensive reports, interfaces, conversion, and extension (RICE) approach
- End-user participation in design, unit, conversion, and integration testing
- A link to the support organization
The ERP Systems Integrator’s project and post-implementation support methodology is a commonly forgotten step. A poorly developed support model during implementation can affect the overall project timeline and budget. End users develop negative perceptions about the ERP or accounting system when impacted by system downtime or poor performance during implementation. Day-to-day business operations can be severely impacted if the system is not performing well after go live.
Ask about the following elements of an SI’s post-implementation support model:
- In-house or contracted applications support model
- Number of people staffed as support
- Third-party add-on support
- Access to system environment performance statistics
- Service level agreements
Trenegy is a consulting firm equipping energy and manufacturing companies for growth and change. Trenegy helps companies select the right ERP or SI team, properly prepare for an ERP implementation, and successfully implement the solution. For more information, contact us at email@example.com.
More on ERP
The State of the ERP Handbook — An unbiased guide to current ERP solutions to help you narrow down your short list.
A New Way of Implementing ERP – The Jar(gone) Podcast