It is clear that choosing the right ERP or CRM system for your organization is vital in ensuring a successful implementation. Depending on your industry sector, and the size of the organization, different systems will have particular strengths and weaknesses which will impact on the likely success of your project. However, the choice of implementation partner is just as important as the choice of system, but many organizations do not put enough effort into properly vetting the partner quality during the system selection process.

This situation is compounded by the fact that the go to market strategy of ERP and CRM software authors is highly variable. Some authors have a direct to market approach, whereby they sell, implement and support their own software in each market, irrespective of the size of the client organization. Other authors adopt a channel partnership model, whereby they use third-party organizations to sell, implement and support the software, leaving the author free to focus primarily on software strategy and development. Then there is a range of hybrid models, whereby the author may adopt a direct approach in certain geographical markets and/or client organization above a certain size while using the partnership model for the remainder of the market.

This fragmented approach makes it very difficult for organizations planning to implement a new system to make the right choice in terms of the specific system and implementation partner combination. If they choose a system which is provided by a direct to the market author, are they missing out on the skills required to support their own market sector and geographical areas? If they choose a system which is provided by a channel partner, how do they know that the partner has the skill and quality of resources to support the implementation of the system as well as the on-going support post go-live? Furthermore, where the client organization is multi-national, it may be necessary to use a number of implementation partners working together in order to cover the geographical reach of the project. Finding the best partner for each of your geographical areas can be very difficult.

In situations like this, it is essential that the system selection process is designed to identify the best system and implementation partner(s) combination. In the Request for Proposal (RFP) document which is issued to prospective vendors, the questions must gather information not only about the system functionality and costs, but also about the quality and experience of the implementation partner as well as the skill and experience of the individual consultants who will be placed on the implementation team. References should be checked for the system as well as the implementation partner, and if possible for the consultants being proposed for the project.