Whenever you work with an integration partner, make sure to keep an eye out for potential red flags that may be waving right in your face.
This applies to ERP partners. But fortunately for you, we’ve glimpsed these flags – both large and obvious and small and subtle.
To help you look out for these warning signs, we’re going to outline some of them below, so if you happen to faintly hear the warning siren, you’ll be able to turn up the volume to hear them clearly.
Just before we get into them, it’s important to mention that implementation and integration partners bring enormous benefits to projects – such as access to vendor contracts, knowledge of ERP systems, typical ERP issues, and familiarity with keeping projects in budget and on schedule.
However, things can go wrong, and warning signs may spring up. Here are some of them to look out for when it comes to an ERP implementation partner.
They fail to meet deadlines
If a partner goes beyond a deadline (especially when it comes to early on in a project) then everyone involved has to figure out what exactly went wrong and how it is going to be addressed.
There are infinite reasons for why an ERP partner may miss a deadline – and it may not even be the fault of the partner. In any case, you’d want the partner to give the project team a clear explanation around what has happened and communicate how the implementation partner plans to get back on track.
This could include making a plan that involves additional resources or working with the project team to defer features that would be deemed less critical. Yet the project team should be wary if the partner suggests having the implementation consultants work longer hours.
In all honesty, longer hours may in fact help greatly in the short term, yet they may have to work longer hours anyway in order to hit the next milestone.
Experiences frequent employee turnover
Be aware if a sizeable number of workers leave the partner company within a short period of time, as collective departures ring alarm bells. One person leaving is fine and understandable but multiple departures may be an internal trend.
Project are at risk when employees leave an organization. It can even lead to long-term issues when it comes to future project phases or software support after a project goes live.
Broad turnovers may also lead to the team having to contribute more and more resources. The implementation partner may find it difficult to hire new project consultants. Or the team may have to repeat knowledge transfer sessions with a new team of implementation consultants.
Be mindful if the implementation partner begins taking on more work throughout the project lifecycle. This can tend to lead to problems for a few reasons.
For example, the partner may charge extra for the implementation because of the extra work being undertaken. And if they aren’t working with many other customers, the partner could be using the implementation project to keep their consultants billable.
In addition, if the partner is taking on extra work, it may lead to the project team not learning the ERP system properly. And it also may lead to them struggling to maintain it on their own after its launched, which increases the dependence on the implementation partner.
Neglects business needs
The whole purpose behind an organization’s ERP implementation is to take care of its specific and unique business needs. So, if the project team becomes worried that their partner isn’t listening or responding to their suggestions, then they’re not working on understanding the company’s needs.
It is a bad sign when a partner is not listening to the wishes of the company. And there may be multiple reasons for this. Perhaps they’re simply too inexperienced to implement specific changes or are inexperienced in specific areas and are trying to sidetrack changes.
Whatever the reason is, the project team needs to be conscious and capable of responding to the business needs of the company.
Submits costly change requests
Change requests happen. Especially when it comes to large implementations. But keep a close eye on them. They happen when a team realizes that a task is hugely different than what the implementation partner believed. And this leads to a potential change in the cost.
Ensure that the changes are tracked and validated. There are times when the request may not even include extra costs – the implementation partner may just want to make note of a decision made during the implementation. Yet there are many extra costs related to change requests given that the request leads to new additional work.
When we talk about change requests, we are also likely going to talk about project delays. That’s because teams then have to fit new requirements into the schedule of the project.
In a typical scenario, the implementation partner is going to be the one responsible for documenting the configurations of the ERP system. This documentation helps ensure project teams as well as implementation partners are on board with the direction of the project
Problems arise when implementation partners don’t document ERP configurations, for whatever reason. Perhaps the partner is inexperienced or specific consultants are trying to cut corners. Or they’re simply unreliable. Alternatively, a lack of documentation could be a sign that the partner is hoping to make the company dependent on them after the project is launched in an attempt to lock-in post-launch services.