Successfully Choosing Your Systems Integrator, Part Two
Previously I spoke with Joel Stangeland about the best way to choose a Systems Integrator for an ERP implementation. Joel, an SI with more than seventeen years experience working with ERP, offered three common-sense suggestions:
• Interview Potential SI’s Up-Front
• Ask Questions and Expect Answers
• Don’t Settle
In Part One of this discussion Joel (AKA Obi-Wan Kenobi, sans light saber) explained the advantages in making the SI selection process part of your ERP software search. In Part Two Joel elaborates on how to make the interview process work for you.
Ask Questions and Expect Answers
Many times the primary contact between the client, the potential ERP product and SI is a sales person. Many sales people are enthusiastic about their product and service offerings. But there can be significant disconnects between what a sales person will say is possible with the software and what the SI will say is possible. Part of this disconnect is resolved when the software and SI shopping is done simultaneously. It is extremely important to ask detailed questions of the SI team regarding the software and how the software will fit with your business. After all, it’s the Systems Integrator, not the sales team, who will be performing the integration. Joel suggests these questions as an interview template:
- What is the methodology the SI follows for managing an implementation?
- What is the process going to look like for me, the client, from start to finish?
- How are training, mock go-lives, go-lives, and data conversions going to be handled?
- What milestones should I expect, and what are my responsibilities for meeting those milestones?
- How does my vision of success dovetail with the SI’s vision of success?
Some businesses may prefer to find a regionally located SI. However, Joel offers this caution: “Don’t settle for an integrator unless you have absolute confidence in their answers. You may need to go into a bigger locale to find the right implementer. The real qualifications for your SI are their skill set, experience, and defined methodology.” And if you find yourself trying to decide between two or three ERP systems that all seem to meet the needs of your enterprise? Well, the qualifications of the SI can figure in making the final choice. Joel says “If you haven’t decided on a favorite product, investigate the partners for all your top options. Remember, the Systems Integrator that you choose will be implementing the software that will drive the systems in your company.” Or, as a Jedi Master might say: “Choose wisely, Padawan.”