Make sure that you include selection of the right implementation vendor/VAR with experience in your industry and the software product. You may have dozens of implementation vendor options for each software product you are considering including the software vendor’s own implementation team
One of the most overlooked aspects of software selection is the evaluation of software implementation partners. In fact, selection of the implementation team can make or break the succes of your project! For most of the major software vendors on the market you will have a wide range of implementation partner options available to you. You need to find an experienced partner that understands not only the software you have selected, but also your industry. In fact, in our software selection work, we have eliminated software vendors solely because there was not a good implementation partner for their requirements.
There are basically 3 implementation strategies offered by the vendors:
- Direct Implementation – This form of implementation comes direct from the software vendor. Some vendors will only implement directly, while others allow you to select either direct implementation from the software vendor, or a separate implementation partner options.
- Implementation Partners – Tier 1 and Tier 2 software vendors (See Tier Chart) like SAP, Oracle, and Infor/Lawson will sell the software direct to their customers. At that point you have the option of selecting a separate implementation partner. For example in the US alone, there are over 200 SAP implementation partners. This implementation partner selection is done after the selection of the software.
- Value Added Reseller – Some of the Tier 3 (See Tier Chart) mid-market ERP software vendors sell through a channel of resellers. In fact, if you were to call Microsoft or Sage, you cannot even buy software from them, they will immediately refer you to a reseller that will demo, sell, and implement the software. In this case you actually have to select the VAR before you evaluate the software to see if it is a good match for your business.
The following are some of the key considerations you need to evaluate in a VAR/Implementation Partner selection:
Implementation Partner Evaluation Tip #1 – Evaluate the Experience of the company
Does the implementation partner/VAR have significant experience with the software that you are considering. What other software products does the partner sell? How many installations does the company have in similar organizations?
Implementation Partner Evaluation Tip #2 – Evaluate the Project Team
The specific project team members are the most critical aspect of your evaluation. Who would actually lead the project and what is the experience of the project team members? Make sure you meet the team before you sign the contract and that you have the ability to lock in certain team members or kick them off the team if they do not work out.
Implementation Partner Evaluation Tip #3 – Compare the Hourly Rates
Compare the hourly rates that are offered in order to make sure they are competitive. Hourly rates do not directly correlate to the quality of the project team. In other words, there may be some very well qualified people at lower hourly rates.
Implementation Partner Evaluation Tip #4 – Organizational Compatibility
Evaluate the culture fit for the implementation partner. Can you work with this team? Do you feel they are a good fit for the culture at your company? Remember, you will be working closely with these people for many months. Make sure that you feel comfortable working with them.
Implementation Partner Evaluation Tip #5 – Review the Implementation Plan
Make sure to review the implementation plan and that you feel comfortable with their approach and the plan fits your vision of the project and the capabilities of your internal personnel assigned to the project.
Implementation Partner Evaluation Tip #6 – Consider the Implementation Partner’s Resources
Make sure they have the resources to support your implementation. If you have an international implementation, you want to make sure that they have the ability to handle a multi-national environment. On the other hand, if you just have a local implementation, you may not need to pay the higher costs associated with a larger organization.