Why partners matter in ERP implementations

By Glenn Saunders – Our business is built on selling solutions built by other companies.  We do not create software as a defining part of our business, although we have on occasion.  We specialize in implementing solutions that larger companies design, create, roadmap and code.  So this begs the question, would the publisher and creator be the foremost expert on their software?  Probably so, from a technical understanding.  However a software publishing company has very different goals than a group like ours.  We strive to understand business objectives for our individual clients and create answers specific to their needs.  Our complete focus is on the implementation of solutions for our customers.  The solutions we sell and support are our toolbox by which we address our customers’ needs.

We exist solely to serve our customers.  That concept sounds pretty simple and cheesy at the surface, but it is a driving principle for our organization.  We want to ensure the success of our customers and our employees.  Those two items generally go hand in hand.  A happy customer leads to referrals and more work, which leads to employees with a lot of fun and challenging projects to complete.  Happy customers and happy employees represent prefect symbiotic relationship.  In contrast, software companies are large and are composed of several divisions. The professional services division is designed to ensure adoption and continued use of the software.  Software vendors’ consulting organizations are project focused so that at the end of an engagement they move on to another implementation.  The customer lifecycle then rests with an account manager which may have no prior knowledge of the business’ needs.  I do not say this meaning that service groups in software companies are not passionate about helping customers.  It is just that they have lots of projects and generally do not have the rigor to truly partner with an organization.

Customers may say, so what, who cares.  I just need the software to work like I want it to work.  There are some good reasons that you need a partner and not a software vendor during your implementation process.

1)      Partner organizations are more likely to tell you ”No.” That’s right, there is a time to say no to a customer.  Why is this a good thing?  With years of experience implementing software for companies, sometimes bad ideas work themselves into projects.  A partner should tell a customer “No “if it is something that will put the organization at risk or create negative outcomes.  Usually that includes a business process that a customer thinks is critical to the organization.  The customer will say, we have always done it that way and we must continue to do it that way without evaluating options.  A partner should offer real business advice and challenge customers to be better than the current status quo.  Our goal is not just to implement the software but to guide our customers to meet their business objectives.

2)      Partners value your business more than software vendors.  To a true partner, a customer is the boss.  Keeping customers’ ecstatic about our service is the number one goal.  That does not mean that you cannot tell the boss when you think something is a bad idea.  Delivering dissenting opinions and ideas must be completed in a tactful, constructive manner.  A partners’ goals in working with customers are fundamentally different than that of software vendors.  Software companies want you to buy and use their software.  To do that it must be implemented properly which is why software companies have professional services organizations.  Partner organizations want to help companies adopt the software and add value in other areas such as business process optimization or organizational change management.

3)      Partners are high touch and focus on customer success.  Software vendors touch base to make sure your maintenance or subscription fees are paid.  Or they reach out when they want to sell you additional software.  Partners reach out to ask how business is going and what challenges you might have in the upcoming year.  Partners ask how can we help?  A trusted partner is going to help your business grow by being a sounding board for ideas and helping you plan for the future.

The Recap:

In choosing software, many times the right partner is as important as the software chosen.  If you have the right partner in an implementation the goals of the project will be met.

As a company which has been a reseller of software for over 20 years, we dislike when companies refer to us as a vendor.  We strive to be partners and trusted advisors to our customers.  Our goal as a business is to ensure the success of every customer and every employee.  We do that by hiring great employees, providing great training and constantly asking our customers how we can better serve them.