In our continuing series that seeks to answer the burning question – “What does Sage Intacct cost?”, we highlighted myths and misconceptions surrounding Sage Intacct pricing, compared the cost of Sage Intacct to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, and compared the cost of Sage Intacct to Oracle NetSuite. Throughout the series, we worked to emphasize the importance of a proper, professional implementation of your accounting and ERP software, regardless of the product you ultimately choose.
Here, we take a critical look at implementation of accounting and ERP software, what you should look for — and perhaps more importantly — what you should look out for.
1 – Successful ERP projects start and end with a professional implementation
This is one message we tend to have on repeat. At our core, we believe that a professional implementation holds the keys to the success of your project. Today’s accounting and ERP applications are complex and multi-faceted. It’s essential to engage a partner that knows the application inside and out, but that’s not enough. You need a partner that understands both your industry and your individual company and can help you apply the technology to your business challenges and opportunities. To get there, the partner will need to invest real time in the project and ask a whole lot of questions.
If simply being an expert on the product was enough to guarantee a successful implementation, you wouldn’t have a proliferation of “rescue sites” promising to fix a broken implementation. (Try googling “NetSuite Rescue Services” and see what you get!) Look out for partners (or software vendors themselves) that package cookie-cutter implementation services and software components based on your industry. Rarely are these bare-bone implementations enough to allow companies to reap expected ROI. There is a world of difference between a professional implementation and a checklist-driven installation. Before the cloud, we used to say these rapid installations are no more than an entry-level consultant loading a CD, clicking on setup.exe and wishing you the best of luck.
2 -Comparing ERP implementation quotes can be like reading a Ouija Board
Back when it was released in 1848, the Ouija Board was marketed as a mystical oracle (no, not that Oracle). Ask a question, close your eyes and trust that the answer would come. We’ve found similar mystery surrounding implementation quotes from some competitors — specifically when it comes to the services they quote. We’ve also seen ERP customers simply trust that the implementation quoted will take them to the beautiful pictures in the brochure. There are great memes all over the internet that play on the gap between what’s promised and what’s ultimately delivered.
A good, ethical partner will almost never discount their services. When services are performed by experienced consultants earning a U.S.-based living wage — they aren’t cheap. If you see services discounted on a proposal, you can be assured one of three things is happening: 1) the services have been offshored to less expensive labor, 2) the service package has been simplified and genericized, or 3) the provider is recouping that cost somewhere else in the proposal.
We encourage ERP shoppers to ask as many questions as needed (and even challenge something that hints at smoke and mirrors) to ensure you know what’s included in your ERP implementation quote — and that you’re going to get what you think you’re paying for.
Something to chew on: The creator of the Ouija Board was actually granted a patent on his toy when he successfully spelled out the patent officer’s name (supposedly unknown to him) on his board.
3 – When a bundle is really a bunch of …
Bundles or rapid start packages are fashionable with some ERP vendors (e.g., NetSuite’s SuiteSuccess). A bundle typically wraps up products and implementation with a shiny bow and assigns a flat rate to the bundle. The appeal is understandable – just sign and drive it right off the lot.
Too often, however, these bundles include capabilities you do not need (but will pay for), or they exclude critical functionality that you must then pay extra for. We implore you to go through an implementation proposal with a fine-tooth comb. It’s vital that you understand what you’re being quoted – and what factors may change the final price you pay.
4 – Continuity and accountability should be implicit
There’s long been a disconnect between the promises an ERP salesperson makes and the realities of real-world ERP implementation. Too often, this disconnect leads to a stalled — or even a failed implementation. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising; salespeople’s job is to sell, not to solve your business challenges, and you likely won’t see the sales team again after you sign the contract.
The best ERP partners build continuity and accountability into their sales and implementation processes in order to create a seamless path for success. As you speak to VAR partners — or directly to an ERP vendor, be certain to ask them about continuity. Who will be executing on the salesperson’s promises? Ask them about accountability. Where does the buck stop? Will you ever talk to the salesperson again?
5 – Yes, it’s possible to go it alone
Lest you think this post is simply promoting implementation services, we offer this fact. Yes, it’s possible to go it alone — or almost alone. Over the years, we’ve worked with companies that have the internal experience and expertise — and time — to implement an ERP application like Sage Intacct, Microsoft Business Central or Oracle NetSuite largely without partner support. But these situations are exceedingly rare. And you have to wonder if those internal resources might be better focused elsewhere.
In our experience, the most successful implementations are a partnership, between the VAR and the client, where clear objectives and roles have been defined, and communication and collaboration abound.
As you work through the ERP sales process and review implementation proposals, you’ll naturally look to compare one vendor’s proposal to the next. If you go into that comparison process with a skeptical eye and a keen awareness of the different approaches each vendor takes, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision — and the best decision for your organization.
BT Partners prides itself on transparency, honestly and accountability throughout the ERP sales and implementation cycle. We’d love to answer your questions — no Ouija Board involved. Give us a call at 847-205-5015.