How to Choose the Right ERP Implementation Partner for Your Business
ERP implementation calls for an expert. An ERP is an amazing but complex system that requires a skilled and professional implementation partner to be successfully implemented and integrated into your company’s ecosystem.
Like a human body, an ERP system has a variety of different components. If you discover that you have a heart arrhythmia, you would go to a cardiologist to install a heart monitor to keep track of your heartbeat. Similar to this, you need to find an ERP implementation partner that knows about your company’s needs and the best way to integrate your new ERP to meet those needs.
Finding the right partner for your implementation can be a long and elaborate ordeal. There are many competitors out there and not all of them will align with your vision for the future of your company’s infrastructure. Choosing the wrong implementation partner is one of the main reasons why implementations fail. Learn more about how you can avoid a failed implementation here.
To help you find the right partner for your implementation project, we've compiled a list of helpful tips and important items to add to your checklist.
To start with, here’s what you should be looking for:
How to Find the Right Partner for Your Business
When you’re looking for an implementation partner, you want to make sure they fit the criteria. Before contacting anyone, you can gather a lot of your information online, such as:
1. How long the partner has been implementing NetSuite.
The longer a partner has been in the business, the more experienced they are. An experienced partner will likely have run into many of the issues that may arise during implementations and knows how to solve them.
2. How many NetSuite star awards they have.
5 stars is top level, which represents excellence in sales, delivery and contribution to the user ecosystem.
3. What product they’re selling.
Are they generalists handling many different other products or specialists in your chosen ERP? For example, a NetSuite ERP professional will likely be able to provide you with more in depth knowledge about how you can use and benefit from your new ERP than a partner that doesn’t specialize - but deals with different platforms.
4. What is their social media presence like?
Are they active and providing thought leadership and valuable information to their user base, and if so then when was the last time an article was published on their blog?
5. Observe the general feel of their culture.
There are plenty of good sources to check for this information, such as Linkedin, Glassdoor, Twitter, Facebook, and even a Google search couldn’t hurt. Company culture and values will give you an idea about how a partner will treat the project and your team during and even after implementation.
Contact the Potential Partner
If you search for a partner using the criteria above, you’ll find one that fits your vision, has a good reputation and is experienced enough to undertake your NetSuite implementation process.
Now, it’s time to contact them. Here are some important things to look out for in your interactions, in order to ensure that they’re the right partner for your company:
1. Response Time
Whether you call or email them, how long does it take to get back to you? Partners with a diligent sales process will likely be organized enough to respond to your communications promptly.
2. Their Process
Does the partner have a clear process to help you solve the problems you are facing with your business or are they trying to push you a product, irrespectively of your needs? A good partner will run you through the implementation process before it begins in order to set your expectations and ensure that their process fits with your company’s own processes.
3. Understanding Your Business
Do they take the time to understand your business? A good partner will want to learn some of the intricacies of your industry to better adapt their implementation for your future growth. After all, an ERP implementation is a group effort.
What to Keep in Mind During your Conversation With a Potential Partner
Longtime partners have seen it all, and chances are they have done multiple implementations in your industry or with businesses that have processes similar to yours.
It may be difficult to understand exactly how you will connect with an implementation partner based on first impressions, so don’t hesitate to ask how other clients have solved the problem you are facing.
You might even find industry specific white papers and blog posts that fit your business model. A reputable partner would have had enough experience to have created a reservoir of great resources.
1. How Long Does it Take to Go Live
When you’re taking on an ERP implementation, it’s important to know when your ERP can actually go live. An experienced implementation partner will be able to provide you with a timeframe for when you can go live based on the initial business analysis.
Some businesses require the kind of intricacies that only a highly customized and specialized implementation can cover. In this case, make sure your partner thoroughly analyzes your project scenario and offers a strategic methodology that can guide you along the way - as well as support your complex implementation.
That’s why we have SuiteSuccess, ORACLE NETSUITE’s Rapid Implementation Methodology, with more than 3,000 hours of innovative and industry-scaling practices built into it. It was engineered to help companies in most major industries get their ERP infrastructure up and running in 100 days with its customizable templates, rapid implementation design, and an agile approach towards business-specific challenges.
With SuiteSuccess, you don’t have to guess. You can know exactly when your new ERP will be functional.
2. What is the Partner’s Process During & After the Implementation?
If, until this point, they’ve passed all the criteria described above and seem to be a good partner for your implementation project, you’re almost at the project stage. But first, make sure you ask the right questions and learn their long-term support strategy.
An implementation is just the beginning of your journey into NetSuite’s cloud ERP services. As your business thrives, you will want to add more customizations and features to ensure your company grows to its full potential. That’s why you should ensure a proper support system from your partner.
You can find out their strategy by asking:
- About their knowledge management strategy, as well as the processes and tools they have in place to share their organization’s learning. You want to benefit from all of the knowledge they’ve developed over the span of years, rather than merely the collective knowledge of the team assigned to your project.
- How will the partner support you after the project is completed? If your only contact is the salesperson or the project manager, you know they'll focus on other customers once your project is completed - that is their role. Make sure your partner has a comprehensive account management approach, and that you will have a contact point in the future.
Can’t find a local partner?
In this scenario, you’ve done your research and looked into several potential partners - but they’re all located outside of your city/ country. Well, that shouldn’t be a problem!
Cloud applications are well suited for remote implementation - but insist on having the team at your location for the assessment phase, as well as the ‘go live’ and training phases. Meeting in person will help your team develop a stronger relationship with the partner team, which will be advantageous once the implementation goes in full swing.
While partners will gladly do your implementation once you have purchased your licenses from NetSuite, they prefer being involved from the beginning. A strong partner will be able to guide you through the choices you have to make and ensure that you are selecting the right modules.
Some partners, like GURUS, will complete the analysis phase even before the licenses are purchased. This gives you an additional level of certainty in your choices and reduces the chances of missing a key module or buying one that turns out to be unnecessary after the assessment.
Now that you’re equipped with the right criteria, you’re ready to find the perfect implementation partner for you. Just keep these tips in mind and you’re bound to have a smooth and successful implementation.