Is it the software or the software provider that makes the difference?

Customers scrutinize ERP products to make sure that they meet requirements, but they don't seem to use the same scrutiny when looking for the right partner to implement the system.

A paintbrush is just that, a paintbrush. But in the right hands, it can wield art that is priceless.

So goes the way of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems. They are a tool (albeit a very expensive, sophisticated one) like any other tool, but in the hands of a skilled craftsman, tremendous positive impact on an organization can be achieved.

Why is this an important point? Because time and time again, I see prospective customers looking into the depths of an ERP system demo for a capability to meet a "requirement," but don't use the same scrutiny when looking for the partner to implement and support the system. A reference check may be completed, but a serious discussion around ideas to IMPROVE their business does not take place.

An ERP implementation team can be likened to a group of painters with brushes. They can all paint, but those with significant experience in a particular industry can leverage far more expertise wielding the same tool as another.

So my advice is this: stop paying so much attention to the system being implemented and start paying more attention to the partner being chosen. Talk to them about real-life experiences and how they have driven significant improvements in organizations similar to yours. How have they used the capabilities in the system that they're selling to dramatically change a business? What do their clients say about delivering business benefit?

After all, you may have to upgrade or purchase a new paintbrush, but switching implementation partners can be far more painful.

By Andrew King

Andrew King is a Senior Partner with WebSan Solutions Inc. WebSan Solutions Inc. is a Toronto based Microsoft Dynamics Certified Partner with a focus on achieving significant business benefit for Professional Services, Manufacturing and Distribution ...