7 Essential Qualities in an ERP Implementation Partner (& 3 to Avoid)

BlogAdvisory & Transformation
Updated on: May 9, 2024

Preparing an ERP implementation for your business? Research estimates that 55-75% of ERP implementations fail the first time. Lack of stakeholder buy-in and insufficient change management programs were noted as the most common reasons for failure—two critical processes that an implementation partner supports.

Selecting the right ERP implementation partner can make the difference between soaring success and costly setbacks. We’re sharing seven must-have qualities that stand out during the selection process and three red flags to avoid, helping ensure your business has the right expertise, support, and alignment for your ERP implementation journey.

Seven Qualities to Look for in an ERP Implementation Partner

1. Expertise Across Financial Systems 

A cloud partner should be well-versed in various ERP software (e.g., Oracle, Netsuite, SAP, Infor, Workday, etc.) and have experience integrating ERP with other systems and functions like CRM, HRIS, supply chain, etc.) to streamline business operations. This includes EPM expertise, especially since ERP and EPM systems share data and collectively form the foundation of a modern financial system platform. If you haven’t selected an ERP, a partner with this experience can provide valuable end-to-end insights.  

Questions to Ask:

What ERP software has your firm implemented?

What experience does your firm have with EPM systems?

Can you provide case studies demonstrating how you’ve integrated a cloud ERP with a company’s existing financial systems?

2. Industry Knowledge

Choose a partner familiar with your industry and processes to tailor your business’s ERP and EPM solutions. The needs of a multi-brand restaurant enterprise may differ greatly from those of a government defense contractor. Industry-specific knowledge can make discovery and planning easier and significantly streamline implementation.

Questions to Ask:

Can you provide references from clients within our industry?

How familiar are you with industry-specific regulations and compliance standards?

Have you implemented any industry-specific ERP solutions or customizations?

3. A Forward-Thinking Mindset

As your business grows, so will your technology needs. Choose an implementation partner with the expertise to design a scalable ERP system that can evolve alongside your business, seamlessly handling increased data volume and user traffic. A strong foundation also means you can take advantage of future tech, such as new AI/ML capabilities. Look for those offering long-term post-implementation support through managed services to proactively adapt the system as your needs change.

Questions to Ask:

Can you provide examples of projects where you successfully scaled ERP systems?

How do you handle increased data volumes or user expansion?

What long-term support services does your firm provide? How long have other clients stayed with your firm?

4. Effective Change Management and Training

Cloud implementations often involve significant changes in business processes. A good partner should offer comprehensive change management support and thorough training programs to ensure buy-in and seamless adoption of the new financial system.

Questions to Ask:

What is your approach to change management in ERP implementations?

Could you share a sample training plan for end-users?

5. Proven Data Security and Compliance

Data security is paramount in a cloud ERP system. The right-fit partner should have strong security measures to protect your sensitive business data and demonstrate knowledge of compliance requirements relevant to your industry and location.

Questions to Ask:

Can you provide details on your compliance with data protection laws?

What encryption methods, access controls, and audit trails do you implement?

How do you handle sensitive financial data securely during ERP migrations?

6. Transparent and Proactive Communication

A partner who can effectively communicate will be able to ensure everyone involved in the project is on the same page, build trust amongst teams, and provide regular updates to keep the project on track. When challenges inevitably arise, they will facilitate timely conflict resolution to prevent minor issues from escalating into more significant problems.

Questions to Ask:

What communication channels and protocols do you use during ERP planning and implementations?

How do you ensure timely and effective communication throughout an ERP project?

What is your approach to resolving conflicts or challenges within a project?

7. Strong Cultural Fit

A partner who aligns with your organization’s culture is more likely to understand your values and work seamlessly with your team. The right-fit partner will navigate your team’s organizational dynamics more effectively, and client-partner trust will feel natural, leading to a more cohesive and collaborative effort in achieving project goals.

ERP systems are long-term investments, and you may be working with your ERP partner for years to come—so find a firm that aligns with your company values for a sustainable and harmonious long-term partnership.

Questions to Ask:

How do you foster collaboration between your team and a client’s internal stakeholders?

Can you provide client testimonials from organizations with similar cultural values to ours?

How would you describe your team’s working culture and dynamics?

Three Red Flags to Avoid in an ERP Implementation Partner

  1. Unrealistic Promises: Firms that make extravagant claims without thoroughly assessing your organization’s needs or the complexities of ERP implementations may be setting unrealistic expectations. Be cautious of those offering quick fixes or too-good-to-be-true results.
  2. Vague or Ambiguous Pricing Structures: Lack of clarity can lead to unexpected costs and budget overruns. A transparent pricing model with clear deliverables and well-defined milestones is essential to manage expectations and reduce costly surprises.
  3. Overemphasis on Cost-Cutting: While cost savings are a benefit of cloud ERP systems, a partner that focuses solely on cutting corners without considering the long-term needs of your business may compromise on essential features or support, leading to more issues down the road.

Choosing an ill-suited partner can be detrimental to your business’s potential, causing project delays, budget overruns, and even data security concerns.

As you evaluate potential partners, remember that this choice is about more than just implementing new software; it’s about investing in a partnership that drives your business forward and stands the test of time. It’s important to ask the right questions, seek out case studies, and prioritize the qualities that matter most to your organization. With the right partner, you can tap into the full potential of your ERP system, unlocking long-term success and adaptability.

The SC&H ERP Advisory & Implementation team has helped hundreds of organizations optimize their ERP investments and successfully transition to the cloud, and we’re ready to help you. Get in touch.

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