5 qualities to consider when choosing an ERP partner

Investing in digital transformation is not about weathering the storm in times of crisis, it’s about moving forward with a more sustainable and smarter digital ecosystem. In most cases, it begins with a modern ERP solution. When choosing an ERP partner, consider these five qualities: 

1. System expertise  

During the selection process, clients tend to focus on the consultant’s product and technology expertise and demonstration experience. You may have had the painful experience of working with a consultant who was learning the system with you. When this happens, the consultant doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, so you may end up with workarounds, pointless customizations, or an ERP solution that uses only 50% of the new software’s capabilities. 

2. Knowledge of business process  

Product expertise is a legitimate concern, but knowledge of business processes is paramount. If the goal of your ERP project is to drive value through improved process efficiency—and it should be—you need to work with a consultant who can go beyond automating and integrating existing processes with ERP software. The best ERP partners have the right blend of technology and business process experience. Make sure to ask about their methodologies and talk to their clients to learn how they’ve leveraged their expertise to redesign the clients’ business processes and make the most of their ERP investment.

3. Industry-specific experience  

Is it better to work with an ERP implementation consultant who has experience in your specific industry or vertical, or with someone who can provide innovative ideas from other industries? Ideally, you need both, and your consultant’s industry experience is only relevant if it was acquired in the context of an ERP implementation. Similarly, you want to get an idea of the type of ERP projects your consultant is accustomed to. Do they typically work on plain vanilla projects or complex implementations tied to many front- and back-office systems?

4. Cultural fit  

Several studies have shown that behind every successful ERP implementation is a strong project team. Thus, the importance of evaluating the cultural fit with your ERP consulting firm. Cultural fit is hard to define because it is largely subjective. Cultural fit is that “gut feeling” that you will be able to work with these people over the next 12 to 18 months without any major clash of personalities. It is a mix of values, behaviors and unspoken rules that helps you answer key questions such as whether you trust them and feel comfortable around their people. 

5. Breadth of services to support long-term vision 

In general, an ERP project is not a one-time transaction. So, you need to look at post-implementation services such as training and levels of customer support, upgrades and periodically re-evaluate how you use the software. But when ERP is just the first step in a complete business transformation strategy, it is preferable to find a partner with the ability to support your long-term vision with additional services and offerings such as e-commerce, BI or big data.