You've selected the ideal Enterprise Resource Planning system for your business. Now who is going to help you put that solution into action? It's likely going to be an implementation partner. Some companies treat that partner as the less important component of the implementation. In truth, a successful implementation will depend as much on finding the right partner as finding the right software. Because an ERP system will touch every aspect of your business, you need a partner who is genuinely interested in learning all about your business and technology objectives so that they can map their implementation expertise to exactly what your organization needs.
Can you implement on your own? Some companies try, and most of them discover that it's like trying to run their business part-time because the implementation is so thoroughly consuming. By the time this realization strikes, the project has already ballooned in terms of expense and, sadly, is frequently on the road to failure. Experience in ERP system implementation as it applies to your specific industry is the most important quality in an implementation partner for maximizing the benefits of your new system. Beyond experience, you'll want to verify that your chosen partner offers the items and qualities that follow.
Candidate partners should have a track records of successful projects, and those projects should be similar to yours in scope, functionality, and industry. If names aren't offered during the sales process, beware. You should also request background information and references for the specific consultants that will be working on your project. A Sales Technician can have very different knowledge set from a Implementation Technician, and your partner should be forthcoming about the qualifications of the people who will be working with you - sometimes daily - throughout the project.
Does the estimate for services seem way too good to be true? It probably is. An ERP system implementation is not the thing you want to cut corners on, and a shockingly low bid, while tempting, might indicate that the candidate is underbidding just to get the business. Make sure you refer back to your budget and return on investment analysis. Compare it to any quotes like a checklist to validate that all the things you need - including those potentially hidden costs - are accounted for in the estimate. After all, this is where those costs will try to hide. A realistic assessment of what it takes to achieve your requirements is one aspect of an honest quote.
One advantage to doing business with a small firm is that, during the sales process, you are probably meeting the technical consultants who will also be doing the actual implementation work. So right from the start they are getting a sense of who your team members are and what your company needs. When meeting with bigger firms, you may meet their star consultants during the sales process, but those same people may not be assigned to your project. Be certain to obtain, in writing, a roster of consultants who will be working on your implementation and verify their length and diversity of experience. Ask to meet them so that you can ask your questions without a filter in between. Remember, these people are going to be pseudo-employees of yours for a substantial duration.
Understand the capabilities and priorities of your candidates. If a firm is a small, local company, your project will receive lots of attention. However, they still need to have sufficient resources to provide quality implementation services to your company as well as any other projects in process. Ask questions to obtain a sense of their workload, and investigate their service-level commitment. If it's a mega-firm your considering, your project may not receive premier resources if they have bigger clients with bigger projects. You'll also find more standardized, less flexible processes with big firms.
Choose the firm that best meets these criteria, but ask enough questions to understand their position right from the start. It may be difficult to verify all of these qualifications, but your project's success depends on your efforts to thoroughly scrutinize your implementation partner candidates on the way to selecting the best one for the job.