Probably one of the biggest decisions that people overlook in the software selection process is the implementation partner evaluation. In fact, many people don’t even know they have options, but this decision can have the biggest impact on the success of your project!
Depending on the implementation strategy of the software vendor you select, you will have the following implementation vendor options available to you:
Direct Implementation – Many software vendors sell directly and solely have their internal implementation team. This is especially true for smaller niche vendors. If you select a software vendor that sells and implements directly you do not have much choice in the group that implements, but you can still evaluate the actual people assigned to your implementation.
Value Added Reseller – Many of the mid-market software vendors such as Microsoft and Sage sell their ERP software through a network of Value Added Resellers (VARs). These resellers will sell and implement the software. In fact there may be 10+ VAR’s that sell the software in your city. It is important to do your due diligence and find a VAR that has experience with similar organizations BEFORE you do your software evaluation. Once you start down the sales path with a VAR, they will not allow you to change VAR’s because they will have spent a lot of time and money in the sales process.
Implementation Partner – Many of the Tier 1/Tier 2 vendors (SAP, Oracle, Lawson, etc.) will sell the software directly to you, but you have the option of using their internal implementation group or a 3rd Party. In some cases as with Oracle/PeopleSoft there are over 90 implementation companies you can choose from. Depending on the opportunity, the software vendor may wish to take control of the implementation, but make sure that you consider other options. These other implementation partners may have more experience in your industry and may have lower billing rates. It never hurts to have a competitive situation!
Once you have qualified the specific company that has the experience you are looking for, then you need to review, evaluate, and vet the actual members of the recommended implementation team. You should have the option to lock certain people into the project and kick people off the project as your needs dictate. These are the people you will be working closely with for the next 6 months – 2 years so you need to make sure they are a good fit for your organization.