Top Qualities to Look for in a Reliable, Capable Implementation Partner

Having the right implementation partner in your corner can greatly increase your chances of having a successful Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementation. Focused on overall project success, cost efficiency, and risk reduction, implementation partners like SANSA Solutions know what it takes to ensure either a successful transition from a legacy enterprise platform or a first-time ERP implementation.

The right partner can also help increase and accelerate user adoption and provide a range of post-implementation support services. When you choose a partner that provides ongoing support, maintenance, and services, that company’s expertise translates into an ongoing asset for all future IT requirements.

The question is, how do you ensure that you’re picking the right partner from the outset? And what key criteria should you be using during the evaluation process?

To help you answer these questions and get your successful ERP implementation underway, we developed this checklist that you can use to whittle down your list and ultimately select the right partner. As you go through the process, ask yourself these questions:

Does the company have expertise and experience in our industry?

Pick one that already knows the ins and outs of your sector and has worked through the challenges with past customers. An implementation partner with experience in your industry will best understand the unique challenges, best practices and areas of opportunity related to your organisation. For example, SANSA Solutions has a team of certified, in-house NetSuite specialists, with years of experience implementing NetSuite across a variety of industries. Their proven approach, to not simply provide a service but to partner with customers, engaging with all stakeholders throughout the implementation journey, combined with strong project governance and control, has resulted in seamless implementations that meet the specific needs of a client.

Is this partner proficient with the specific software platform?

Putting your ERP implementation into the hands of a generalist that works with multiple different platforms is a bad idea. What you need is a partner that has extensive experience with the specific platform that you’re considering. Skip this step and you may wind up “learning along with” the partner company as they get up to speed on the latest requirements, capabilities and features of the ERP in question. As a trusted and award-winning NetSuite Alliance Partner, SANSA Solutions helps its clients maximise the value of their NetSuite investments via consulting, implementation, optimisation and support services.

What implementation methodology does the partner offer?

Pick a partner whose methodology aligns with your project needs, industry requirements and preferred approach. NetSuite SuiteSuccess, for example, is a complete methodology that comes preconfigured with best practices and industry-specific workflows. This eliminates the need for extensive customisation, shaves time off the implementation process and gets your company up and running on its new ERP very quickly.

Is the company’s implementation team up to date with technology?

The technology landscape is advancing quickly, and you want a partner that keeps up the pace with those changes. In Top 10 essential skills for ERP professionals in 2024, Alexander S. Gillis highlights how ERP professionals should have experience or knowledge in using the proper technologies to implement and manage ERP hardware and software. As you evaluation potential partners, look for team members that possess technologies, technical skills and experiences like: 

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Big data
  • Creating custom reports
  • Data management
  • Data integration
  • Data migration
  • Data modeling
  • Predictive analytics
  • Programming languages such as SQL or XML
  • Robotic process automation (RPA)
Does the company have an established communication process for questions and concerns that may come up both pre- and post-go-live?

Your implementation team has to be able to openly discuss projects with you—and between themselves—in a clear and concise manner. “The ability to communicate clearly — through spoken or written word — is an integral part of making a project plan succeed,” says Gillis, who adds that the ability to resolve conflicts and disagreements between team members in a calm and reasonable manner is equally as important. “Teams should be able to come together to collaborate, share knowledge and solve any potential technical issues.”

Can the partner get our ERP implementation done without the need for excessive, costly customisations?

Customisations require additional development time and resources and can add to project costs and extend implementation timelines. Customisations may also make your ERP more complex and harder to maintain over time. The customisation work itself can also make your ERP implementation more expensive, so look for a partner that can get the majority of the work done without the need for costly customisations. If it looks like customisations are going to be inevitable, find a partner that can manage them in the most efficient manner possible, versus one that’s out to add more cost to your overall implementation.

Does the company have customer referrals that I can talk to for feedback on their own ERP implementation experience?

Ask for references from previous clients and review their success stories to gauge the partner’s capabilities. Ideally these referrals should include organisations that are operating in your industry. This is an important step in the evaluation process because the references involve actual clients that have firsthand experience with the implementation partner’s work. In most cases, they’ll offer valuable, neutral opinions that you may want to factor into your own decision.

And lastly, what does support look like after the implementation is completed?

The best ERP implementation partners will work alongside your company for the long haul, which means they won’t just “pack up and leave” as soon as your company is up and running on NetSuite. At SANSA Solutions, they not only ensure your system works as intended, but we also provide the support programs, help desk, training and other resources that you can leverage in order to get the biggest benefits from your new ERP implementation.