Posted on: Thursday August 06th, 2020

Author: Kilimanjaro Consulting

Would you be willing to do business with a software implementer who offered a great ERP product which met all your functional requirements, but would be difficult and frustrating to work with along the way? Consider what you should expect from your ERP implementation partner

You have decided on an ERP solution. Now what?

Once a business outgrows their current accounting system, they begin seeking an ERP software that checks every box on their functionality wish list. Although this is a crucial decision, don’t forget about the partner behind the software. The partner will be the driving force in implementing the system into your business. ERP implementation is a complex and costly investment that can impact your business for its foreseeable future. Therefore, ensure you are making a calculated decision on who your implementer is. Are they a Farmer or a Hunter?

At Kilimanjaro, we believe that software is a platform for business efficiency. This software may be in place for up to 10 years, so a long-term and reliable partner is essential. One of our golden rules states that we are proud to self-identify as “farmers not hunters”. Having sown the seed of efficiency improvement, we are here for the long haul, always keeping pace with new technology that benefits your business.

Why worry about the Implementation Partner?

An ERP implementation is like surgery – you would want an expert. You want to choose an ERP implementation partner who is experienced and can help you recognise your current business state as well as provide solutions for your future state. A trusted partner will guide you through the whole process with a proven methodology and a team of highly skilled experts. There are partners and then there are partners that count. On the other hand, a Hunter is an implementation partner who has little technical expertise or experience in the industry, and has intentions that don’t necessarily serve your business. You may be lured in by a quick implementation and a seemingly low investment, but shortly after you will begin to realise how unrealistic and unsustainable their offer was all along.

An ERP implementation can take anywhere from 3 months to 2 years, depending on the complexities of the business. But what comes next? After the implementation, you will need a partner who is willing to guide you through setting up new staff, upgrades and tech support. Someone who will be there not only when your business grows but also when a new challenge or opportunity arises. This journey can take over a decade.

In a nutshell, implementing a new ERP system is an opportunity to both identify and redesign your business processes. You want to ensure you have an implementation partner who can understand your current business requirements, envision where you want to be, and support your business from day one, all the way through the journey. 

Factors to look at when choosing an ERP Implementation Partner

Before choosing which implementation partner you are going to commit to, make sure you understand your choice is going to be multi-faceted. You can start by basing your decision on certain factors such as: 

  • Reputation – are they well regarded in the markets they serve?
  • Skills – Do they have a strong team?
  • Size- Can they provide continuity of employees leave or are unavailable?
  • Longevity – Have they been around long enough for their failures to surface?
  • Methodologies – Does the partner have proven and documented methodologies, that ensure they will do it right, first time?
  • Investment- Is the implementation of partner cutting costs to get into the market?
  • Experience – Have they done it before?
  • Risk – Can I pull out if I don’t like the proposed solution?
  • Software – Does the implementing partner have a strong relationship with the software vendor?
  • Geographic – Does the ERP implementer operate in the regions in which you operate? 

With all of this to consider, make sure you have a team behind you to contribute, as the choices you make now will impact your business far into the future.

There are a range of implementation partner “types” out there, some include:

  • Innovators
  • Financially driven firm
  • Growth orientated
  • Litigious (if I don’t have to, I don’t want to)

It’s critical to consider what you want out of this long-term relationship. Ensure you are avoiding the hidden costs and surprise increases by choosing a partner that doesn’t view you like another number.

The signs of a Farmer vs a Hunter

At Kilimanjaro, we refer to a “Hunter” as a partner who merely provides implementation services and does not nurture their clients in growth and support. This is exactly what you want to avoid when choosing your ERP implementation partner.

Here are some of the warning signs to watch out for when dealing with a Hunter:

  • Confusing contracts 
  • Sales professionals who are not able to answer your questions directly, or who do not take the trouble to get back to you with definitive answers. 
  • Offer a fixed price implementation without clearly defining the scope
  • Poor relationship with the software vendor
  • Little understanding or care of your business requirements
  • No “User Acceptance Testing” phase in the implementation.
  • No ‘after implementation’ support 
  • Lower prices in comparison to the market 

Choose the wrong implementation partner, and you will start to see things fall apart quicker than you think. 

So, what characteristics should you be looking for? We refer to a “farmer” as a partner who supports the growth of businesses over the length of the entire relationship. A trusted ERP Partner should have:

  • A consistent implementation methodology 
  • Long term intentions with your business
  • Clear communication about the risks (software, implementation, and self-inflicted risks)
  • A prominent relationship with the software vendor 
  • Long-standing relationships with their clients
  • A significant team of experts 
  • A local support desk
  • Training options (software is continuously developing, so your skills should too)
  • A positive company culture

Make sure that you have the right tools and knowledge behind you to pick the right surgeon, ensuring the procedure and post-op check-ups go smoothly! 

Don’t forget, your software decision can last a decade or longer, so choose your partner wisely! Still considering whether your business needs an ERP? We can help.

If you are still in the process of choosing an ERP but aren’t sure where to start, download our helpful E-book that takes you through some useful tips on how to get started on your ERP journey. 

If you have any enquiries please call us on 1300 857 464 or email us at [email protected]