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When shopping for an ERP system, you may hear two terms used interchangeably, “ERP implementation partner”, or “ERP partner” for short and “ERP vendor.” While some people may sometimes treat “ERP partner” and “ERP vendor” as the same thing, they’re not.
To differentiate the two, think of an ERP vendor as a clothing store, which sells suits of all shapes, sizes and colors and an ERP partner as a tailor who helps you make the basic suit you’ve just bought uniquely yours. They might adjust the sizing or add a bit of flair to match your unique needs and personality.
Your ERP vendor is the firm that created and sells your ERP software. Their customer support focuses on how to use their product, not on how to implement/customize the software to fit your business’s needs and install it. That’s your ERP partner’s job. The consultants who work for an ERP partner company are experts in the solutions they support. They generally specialize in certain industries. So, they understand your business needs on a deeper level than the ERP vendor, who markets to a wide swath of industries, ever could.
You may or may not buy your system through your ERP partner, depending on which ERP you choose. Either way, they’ll be the ones you count on to get the system up and running, tweak it to ensure a good fit, supply user training and be your first line of defense when you have an issue.
Why do I need an ERP implementation partner?
To Assist with Project and Change Management
Sure, change is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. A key cause of ERP project failure is poor user adoption. An ERP partner knows this and has experience helping businesses overcome these roadblocks. They should help ensure you have:
- Executive support for the project
- The ideal project team in place, one that’s ready to champion the solution and encourage others to follow suit.
- Proper end-user training to smooth the transition process.
To Help Optimize Your Processes
A key feature in any modern ERP is its ability to help you automate time-consuming, tedious processes. To maximize its impact, your implementation partner will give you an objective opinion to uncover places where you might benefit from automation and set up the workflows in the system.
Yes, your staff may need to adjust their routines, but keep an open mind. Listen to the recommendations your ERP implementation partner is presenting and remember this. Just because you’ve worked a particular way for many years doesn’t mean that’s still the best way to achieve your end goals. The efficiency gains which come from maximizing your ERPs automation tools will be well worth the inconvenience of tailoring your processes.
To Show You Best Practices
An experienced ERP partner has seen everything. They’ve dealt with every business size and type, a variety of industries, and have worked with several ERP systems. This experience lays the foundation for a successful implementation. Instead of being a guinea pig, you’ll benefit from other’s mistakes and shield yourself from unnecessary risks.
To Provide Continuing Education to Users
If you’ve worked with an ERP before, you know vendors supply regular software updates with the freshest and best features. These make users’ jobs easier, and your business run smoother. However, to use these updates, users may need some training. ERP partners may deliver this via online materials such as blogs, email newsletters or virtual courses, or they may offer live training. Either way is fine, if assuming it meets the needs of your team.
To Wring the Last Valuable Drops from Your Investment
ERPs are complex pieces of software, each with more capabilities than meets the eye. To get the most out of them, you need an ERP partner to guide you into your system’s dark corners. The right ERP partner knows your system’s full range of capabilities, allowing them to unearth hidden gems you can put to good use.
To Boost User Adoption
Human nature tells us to favor the comfortable, so a major change like redefining how a person does their job will make some uneasy. But with the right support during and following the go live phase of your ERP implementation, your partner can ease these natural fears and encourage adoption.
If partner selection is a topic you would like to dive deeper into, please see our eBook entitled “Choosing the Right ERP Implementation Partner for You: A How-To Guide.”
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