It isn’t always easy to build a client-partner relationship. You need to make an informed choice at the outset and to know how to maintain the relationship. This article covers the different aspects of this type of relationship and the various criteria to take into account during the selection process.
Relevant Criteria for Choosing Your ERP Partner
The choice of the partner who will perform the implementation of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is almost as equally important as the choice of the system itself. Choosing the right partner is crucial, for the human relations that you will maintain are key factors in the success of your implementation project.
In general, that partner will stand by your side for many years and will guide you throughout the evolution of your ERP solution. It’s always possible to switch partners along the way, but it’s not necessarily desirable given the risk of loss of information, especially if your solution has undergone customization.
Here are a few aspects to consider:
Client Recommendations and Experience Level
Cloud solutions are more and more affordable, and the number of partners on the market increases steadily. There’s something for every taste and budget. Choose a partner who has a proven track record, and who has been in business for several years. This will ensure that he does not vanish after the implementation of your solution.
A review of recommendations from clients helps validate the information conveyed by the partner. At Createch, we always recommend having at least two client recommendations, and we require phone or video calls, or live meetings with the client. This allows to ask the right questions and dispel concerns prior to making your choice.
Financial Health and Organizational Stability
How would you react if your partner wasn’t able to complete the implementation of your ERP, either because he can no longer afford to pay the resources and abandons you, or because he doesn’t have enough ongoing projects and has to make layoffs? Such situations can happen if the organization you chose is not mature enough, or cannot withstand the financial pressure.
The COVID-19 crisis put all of us under high stress; many projects have slowed down or stopped. Createch got through it, thanks to its organizational stability and remarkable financial health, achieved by reducing the impact the pandemic had on the relationship with our clients and the quality of our services.
Support Quality and Accessibility
The stabilization period following the implementation of the ERP solution is critical. This delicate balance can swing a project from seemingly successful to disastrous. The partner’s support team therefore plays an important role after the implementation of the solution, namely to correct minor anomalies or to introduce new capabilities.
Once the project is done, make sure that your partner makes a support and stabilization system available to you. Also make sure that your file is not transferred to an inexperienced team that is not familiar with your environment and, what’s more, cannot meet your requests within the established timeframe. Createch offers multiple approaches to post-implementation coaching. Prepaid banks of hours, custom coaching... There’s something for every taste and every budget.
Given the unavoidable knowledge transfer between the field team and the support unit, one thing is certain: the people who will help you are hardworking resources who master the application and the implementation environment.
Geographical Proximity, Language Compatibility, and Availability
The last few months have allowed us to note that a very large number of tasks can be executed virtually. Even though working remotely is possible, nothing beats a process review workshop on site with the actual attendees. The ability of the partner to travel to your office is an aspect worth considering. The farther your partner is from you, the costlier his visits will be.
Moreover, his ability to communicate with you and provide you with accompanying material in the language of your choice is a matter not to be neglected. The allocation and availability of your partner’s resources for your project are also important. You should make sure that he has everything on hand, according to a well-defined plan.
You’ve Selected Your ERP Partner! What Now?
Roles and Responsibilities of the Client
After choosing your partner, it’s time to develop and consolidate the relationship. But such a responsibility cannot be solely incumbent upon the partner. It takes two to tango. As a client, you should address your queries and express any inconvenience to your ERP partner. A strategic planning of information systems is good practice. And it should be conducted together with the partner.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Partner
The partner should stay close to his client and anticipate his needs. In the absence of strategic planning on the client side, the partner can provide a roadmap of the ERP system’s evolution at the client’s premises. He should be able to recommend additional modules or functionalities that will improve the efficiency of the client’s resources and add value to the organization. Createch prescribes different approaches in that matter.
The partner should also support the client during system updates. Since technology leans more and more toward the cloud, this facet is often overlooked by numerous partners. But that’s not the case at Createch. A comprehensive list of new functionalities for the particular tool used is given to the clients, and various webinars are made available to further the understanding of specific concepts.
In conclusion, the partner should be able to put himself in the client’s shoes. Several surveys can be proposed to learn more about the client. Createch conducts a survey with its clients at the end of each project, and once a year afterwards. It aims to assess the quality of services rendered, the level of resource expertise and the quality of the client-partner relationship. It’s an opportunity to engage with the client and make changes as required based on the comments received.
The implementation of an ERP system is a substantial investment in both time and money. Choosing the right partner according to the aforementioned criteria will facilitate the implementation process, and the maintenance down the road. What’s more, it is also crucial to nurture the client-partner relationship. Both parties need to commit to an honest, durable and transparent cooperation. If you are interested in partnering with Createch for your next project, do not hesitate to contact us!