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| 4 minutes read

Do You Know How To Select and Manage Your ERP Solutions Implementer (SI)?

Having “rescued” dozens of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementations, what we see as the absolute key to success is the selection and management of your System Implementer (SI).  We call them rescues because without good selection criteria and process, your project can end up being months late, bleeding budget, forced to transition to a new SI (and “starting all over again”), or even shutting down the project (?) entirely. We have seen all of this happen many times.

This does not have to be your experience. There are five key areas that you should prepare for prior to selecting an SI and moving forward with your ERP implementation:

1. Ensure Your SI Learns Your Business and Avoid Template-Based Implementations

Many SIs overuse templates in their approach to implementing any ERP system. This can force your implementation into "canned" structures that do not meet your needs. They need to fully understand your business from key inputs, outputs, and desired outcomes and incorporate that information into the organization’s goals for using an ERP system. Even worse, many SIs use templates for their testing - which will prove that the ERP system will work as it is designed to do out-of-the-box. Specific and custom test scripts will be needed for your organization. If you do not prepare for this, your implementation will add risk to the testing phase and the gap between "canned" and real-life operations will become glaringly apparent.

2. Avoid Front-Ended Staffing Models

Beware of the staffing models that are heavily front-loaded. Many SIs start with heavily loading the front end of the engagement and then start to roll off key resources when they are needed the most – at the testing and implementation phases. Outline the critical junctures where staff are needed in the overall project plan submitted by the SI and match to the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) appropriately.

3. Fixed Bids Are Not a Deal

From our experience with rescues, fixed pricing structures result in missed deadlines, inflated estimates, and SIs hard-coding their template processes into your implementation. This leaves no room for clear evaluation and structuring of the ERP core data - a crucial foundation to the operations of the overall system. Once the SI implements its structure, it will lead to heavy maintenance and reliance on the SI in the future.   

4. Retain Control and Require Accountability (over and over and…)

As the owner of the system, you need to retain full control of the implementation through active engagement, governance, and accountability from start to finish. Ultimately the SI will go away, so client ownership and engagement early on will make that transition more successful and effective. Much of the guidance that is provided by SIs serves their needs of implementing the system with as little customization as possible which aids speed of delivery for them. This may present a conflict of interest and can result in an ERP implementation that does not fully meet needs and is inappropriately dependent on the SI for future amendments. We recommend ultimately being in control and retaining the "keys to the kingdom" through strict governance over the requirements, design, data migration, testing, and go-live planning. These are crucial roles for the client to ensure this very expensive investment meets the business objectives accurately and efficiently.

If you already have strong governance processes and the ability to manage enterprise-wide implementations, that is great! If there are gaps, then consider bringing in a third party.

5. Engage a Trusted Advisor and Accountability Partner

As previously stated, you need to retain control and accountability for the implementation of your SI. We find many clients have some capability gaps regarding managing such a project:

  • Project / Program management for enterprise scale
  • Business analysis
  • Testing management
  • Governance and accountability

SIs who try to be "all things to all people" will downplay these needs but these overall responsibilities need to be retained by you or a trusted third party who can help set up the governance structure and aid in its execution while coaching for accountability of the SI throughout the implementation. A trusted partner can also help identify gaps in the requirements, design, data migration, testing, and go-live planning. Having independent experienced support in this area will ensure the project rolls out modules and functionality that meet objectives instead of just proving the application works. 

How Ankura Can Help

Shaping your organization's trajectory and managing your ERP SI requires solid strategy, well-designed plans, effective governance, agility, and consistent and coordinated execution. Our experiences with ERP implementations and rescues position us with the perspectives and insights to guide you from selection through results. We focus on ensuring that your operations and processes are clearly defined and modeled to set the foundation for new system implementation. We do not come in with a prescriptive or canned approach, we align with your needs and partner with you to meet all the challenges of transforming your organization with an ERP system. As your trusted advisor and accountability partner, we strategically ensure your objectives are met with a bias toward action, precision execution, and a people-centric approach that values and leverages your internal experts. We build alignment and commitment within your organization, initiate and drive momentum, and deliver sustained results.

© Copyright 2024. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of Ankura Consulting Group, LLC., its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals. Ankura is not a law firm and cannot provide legal advice.



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