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The 6 Most Important Qualities of a SAP Implementation Partner

Larry Alton, Writer, LarryAlton.com
| Posted at 3:05 PM by ISACA News | Category: Risk Management | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Larry AltonIf you’re not seeing the results you want, you may need to switch SAP implementation partners. SAP implementation is becoming more important than ever, with revenues from enterprise resource planning (ERP) software expected to reach $84.1 billion by 2020, according to Apps Run the World. Not only does this technology help your organization become more efficient, but your top competitors are following suit – so you’ll need to increase your pace and attention if you want to keep up.

What happens if your chosen SAP implementation partner isn’t giving you what you need? What qualities should you look for in a new provider?

Signs It’s Time to Switch
If you notice any or all of the following signs, it’s a good indication that it’s time to switch providers:

  • Significant delays. According to Clarkston Consulting, it may be time to switch if your partner is a cause of significant (or frequent) delays. Delays happen to everyone from time to time, but excessive delays are usually a product of failure to plan and/or a lack of sufficient resources to finish the job.
  • Budgetary constraints. If your partner keeps running over budget, or if pricing has changed significantly, you may wish to find a partner better able to project – and maintain – previously estimated pricing.
  • Lack of availability. How hard is it to get in touch with the leadership at your implementation partner’s organization? There should be an open line of communication at all times. If you feel like you’re in the dark, it may be time to switch.
  • Significant shifts in vision. Has the implementation vision changed significantly from what it was at the outset? You may want a new partner who can more reliably achieve and sustain the current vision.

Qualities to Look For
These are the qualities you should look for in a new partner:

  1. Size. Size may not seem like an important feature in an implementation partner, but it has a few different effects. A bigger firm will be able to provide you with greater resources and a more reliable guarantee that your implementation will go smoothly, thanks to backups and more specialists on staff. However, a smaller firm might be less expensive and could provide you with a more personal experience. There’s no right answer here, so consider all size options and pick the one best suited to your company’s needs.
  2. History. According to Angela Nadeau, your implementation partner should have a track record of success. Certainly, talented new firms and partners may be perfectly capable of successfully partnering with you. However, for a large-scale implementation, it’s safer to choose a firm that has been around for years – and has the client testimonials and reviews to prove it.
  3. Areas of expertise. Not all implementation partners have the same areas of expertise. For example, some may specialize in certain types of software, while other may specialize in specific industries. You may need a specialist, or you may need a “general” implementation partner with a wider range of specialties that can flexibly serve a variety of different needs.
  4. Culture and personality fit. You’ll work closely with your partner throughout the implementation process, so make sure they’re a good culture and personality fit. Ideally, they’ll have the same core values as you and your firm, and their representatives will be able to work closely with your staff with no issues.
  5. Cost. Obviously, consider the cost of your implementation partner as well. If you pay more, you may gain access to better systems, more specialists and more experienced representatives – but if you don’t need all that, you’ll be able to save money with a less expensive option. If your budget has a hard limit, your decision will be much easier.
  6. Understanding. Finally, you’ll need to choose a partner that can understand your enterprise’s unique needs. Implementation shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach. Talk to multiple candidates and lean toward the options that hear and are willing to address your specific circumstances.

Choosing a new SAP implementation partner doesn’t have to be a painful experience even though there are many options available. With enough research, you’ll inevitably find one that can serve your specific needs. Before you begin the process, outline the specific qualities that are most important to your organization, and start weeding out the candidates that can’t meet those criteria.

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