Hiring the right SAP Business One partner and building your internal team are critical to the success of your ERP implementation and operation. The purpose of this post is to examine the context in which your ERP Partner is used. I'll share some of my thoughts, including both my failures and successes with hopes that you don't make the same mistakes I did.
Setting The Stage for Failure
In April of 2012 I began implementing SAP Business One. In addition to that role, I ran our eCommerce site and handled most of the marketing. It was not exactly a small workload, and in hind sight a rather obvious mistake to take on the project lead for implementation. On my team where two other employees, both of whom were ill-equipped to handle the decisions and tasks involved in an ERP implementation.
While I understood the value that SAP Business One could bring to our operation, I massively underestimated the amount of work and resources required to make the transition from our legacy system. Further, I did not initially build my team with the right people (the right people did not exist in the business). These critical mistakes set us on the path for a failed implementation. No matter how good your partner is, they cannot do the work for you. Which leads to my first point.
Partners Are Not Implementers Nor Operators
The role of a partner is as an advisor. Partners
cannot should not perform the implementation for you because they don't know your business like you do. You can pass off as much work as you want to your partner (they will gladly charge $200+/hour), but using them as an extension of your implementation team is a mistake.
Implementing an ERP system entails much more than data-migration, system configuration and learning new software. The implementation process provides the opportunity to examine and improve all core operational processes. It is a chance to design better workflows and lay a stronger foundation for your business.
No partner will fill the void of a bad team. Your partner must be a catalyst to your success, not a crutch for your deficiencies. You need the right team, lead by the right person.
When Your Implementation is Done Your Partner is Done
Partners make their money from license fees and consulting. During the implementation process, you will pay a lot of money in consulting fees. Once the implementation is finished, the nature of the relationship changes. Your partner is done caring about your success, because from their perspective you are already a success - you have launched and are now reliant on them for license fees and ongoing support.
Your partner is not be capable of handling the day-to-day questions/issues with the system in a timely manner. They have little interest in continuing to improve operational workflows. Understand that their business does not scale from one-off 15-minute support calls. Their business scales by selling and implementing the next customer.
You Need an ERP Expert
Hiring an ERP Expert will massively increase the success of your implementation. If this person already exists in your organization, great! However, most businesses that implement SAP Business One come from a much smaller solution - QuickBooks and the like. ERP software is complex. ERP systems are fluid and constantly changing. They are a muscle in the body of a business that needs constant work and improvement. You need an experienced leader. ERP software alone will not grow your business. Great people will grow your business.
Thankfully, I changed course prior to launching SAP Business One at my company and hired an ERP Expert. His name was Peter Canale. The August 2013 launch was a success.