Congratulations – your business has decided to implement a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution! As one of the biggest tech purchases your company can make, it’s important to know the key players that are involved:
- The ERP Vendor – who will be providing the software;
- The Implementation Partner – an IT company that specializes in implementing the software for end users;
- Your Business – the internal resources who will describe your processes and unique needs, make decisions on system setup, assist with data cleanup and migration, and perform user testing;
- Your Digital Advisor – who makes sure the technology and your business are aligned on timeline, budget, and design.
Understanding the roles and requirements of each of these stakeholders before you begin your ERP implementation is crucial for long-term success.
The ERP Vendor
The ERP vendor is the software provider. They develop and build the technology your business will purchase. They are typically large international companies with several different software products under their brand. Their role in your business’s ERP implementation is to create an excellent product and, if it’s cloud-based, manage the data hosting.
Depending on which ERP solution you ultimately choose, the vendor may have varying degrees of involvement in the actual implementation of the software. Some solutions, like SAP Business One, are exclusively sold by their network of Implementation Partners – regional IT firms that specialize in implementing the software for end customers. Other solutions may have an in-house team of sales and implementation experts that work with the customer directly, like Epicor’s Prophet 21 solution. In the case of small-to-medium enterprise customers, most vendors will work through implementation partners.
The Implementation Partner
Implementation partners are the next group you should get to know as you embark on your ERP implementation. As mentioned above, implementation partners differ from ERP vendors in that they are typically smaller, regional firms that specialize in implementing that solution for end customers.
These firms will have a large impact on your end user experience as their role is to configure the ERP to align the system to your business operations. They will also train your team and provide ongoing support even after implementation – so it’s beneficial to view an ERP implementation not as a one-off project, but as the beginning of a long-term business relationship with your implementation partner. To ensure you make the right choice for your business, here’s some questions to ask yourself about your potential implementation partner:
- How much experience do they have working with clients in your industry?
- Does their communication style align with yours?
- Will they be able to provide the necessary customer service and ongoing support to ensure that your ERP implementation is a success?
Finding the right partner will ensure that your vision for your ERP won’t get lost between the purchasing stage and the end result, so don’t be afraid to be selective when it comes to bringing this key player into the fold!
So far, we have focused on the external players that will contribute to the success of your ERP – the software vendor and the implementation partner. Now, it’s time to go over your business’s role in the equation.
Your organization’s internal project team should include (at least!):
- A Sponsor; this is often an executive- or ownership-level stakeholder who maintains the vision, has high-level decision-making power, and can remove barriers.
- A Project Lead that’s motivated to drive the project forward, has the authority to bring folks together, and is successful at maintaining working relationships with all groups involved. They will also be responsible for working with the implementation partner to ensure that the project is on schedule and within the budget.
- Subject Matter Experts and key stakeholders from your business with strong knowledge of your current processes (and why you do them that way). It’s helpful if these key players also have an appetite for change and are leaders amongst their peers.
At specific points in the project, the responsibility on your organization will be the greatest. Generally, the times when your team is at maximum effort will be during:
- Design – when your subject matter experts are explaining their current activities and needs to the implementation partner and learning how these could be met by the new system;
- Data cleansing and migration – when your data will be cleaned up and imported from your old system to the new ERP system;
- User Acceptance Testing – when your organization verifies that the ERP is working as expected;
- End user training – when the internal team members that were trained by the implementation partners then go on to train all other end users on the new ERP system.
Beyond this and throughout the project, your business will also ultimately be in charge of vendor and project management for the ERP implementation. But what happens in the (extremely common) case where your business’s internal project team may not have the time, resources, or skills to manage the project as diligently as you would like? You bring on a Digital Advisor!
The Digital Advisor – Your Secret to Success
Besides the 3 other players we’ve mentioned so far, there is one group that is often overlooked but plays a critical supporting role: the digital advisor. Businesses often underestimate the internal business effort that’s required throughout a technology adoption project, and this is where Digital Advisors, like Meira Consulting, can help!
Your digital advisor is there to make sure the technology plays nice with your business and that everyone, from the vendor to the implementation partner to you, are on track throughout the project. Meira Consulting brings years of implementation experience to help your business avoid common pitfalls and get the most of the implementation process and your new system, offering guidance in:
- Technology Selection
- Technology Adoption
- Project Management Support
Digital advisors can also augment your project team when you may not have the internal resources, skills, or experience to support an ERP implementation leading to earlier implementation and faster realization of ROI!
Conclusion: Team Work Makes the (ERP) Dream Work!
Your ERP implementation is a long-term technological investment towards your business’s ability to drive revenue, mitigate risks, and reduce costs. Understanding the key project players and their roles will help ensure that priorities and expectations are aligned across all members of the ERP implementation team. To summarize:
- The ERP vendor will provide the software;
- The implementation partner will set up the software to your business operations needs and provide some level of training;
- Your business’s internal project team will provide subject matter expertise, project management, and vendor management support throughout the implementation and;
- The digital advisor will provide external support at any stage of the project – from technology selection, to implementation, to project and vendor management support.
With the right team in place, you will be setting up your business for a smooth ERP integration process and maximizing the benefits of your new ERP solution for years to come!
Want to make sure you have the key to a successful ERP implementation from Day 1?