Rubenstein Justman Management Consultants

Selecting an ERP Solution – the “R” Stands for Relationships!

by Gary Rubenstein

For those of us that spend our time assisting mid-market companies through the process of evaluating, selecting, and implementing new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions, considerable time focuses on gathering and defining the system requirements so that we can select the right solution and negotiate the best price.  As we approach the implementation phase, we start finalizing the project timeline, the detailed project tasks, and, of course, the related costs.

There is another factor, however, that requires your attention and it may be even more important than everything else. This critical element is the RELATIONSHIPS that must be created and maintained throughout the months of analysis and decision-making in order to realize a success.

Maybe the “R” in ERP ought to stand for “Relationship”!

Your Relationship Team

Looking at every step in the ERP evaluation through implementation process, what is one of the first tasks that you must address to get the project off in the right direction?  You have to build your project team.  Whether you are building an internal team or looking to supplement with outside assistance, one of the keys to your project success will be in building a team that promotes frequent and effective communication.  This is the first place that relationships start to play a key role.  Select the wrong team or the wrong consultants and your project will get off on the wrong foot.  Before you know it, you will be hearing about how the project is too complex, too difficult, too stressful, too challenging, or too costly, as opposed to hearing how the project will be empowering and game-changing for your organization.

Defining your internal project team is only the first step.  Next you have to select a vendor solution and with it, a system integrator.  Of course the primary goal is to evaluate and select the right software solution, but right behind that objective is the critical decision surrounding the selection of the right system integrator.  The system integrator brings its technical, software-specific, expertise to the project.  These are the folks that will be living with you for several months as they assist you through the implementation process.  No matter how perfect your choice of software solution, a significant key to your success will be your ability to create a strong relationship with the individual consultants that comprise the system integrator’s team.

Make sure you have the opportunity, prior to commencing the project, to interview members of the proposed implementation team for the purpose of assessing communication style, temperament, and general functional knowledge of the area for which they will be responsible.  The ability of your organization to build and maintain a strong working relationship with these individuals cannot be understated.  As a precaution, negotiate a player swap clause in your agreement that provides you the option to swap out consultants if problems arise during the implementation process.

Closing Thoughts

You are investing significant time and money in order to introduce positive change to your company.  The word RELATIONSHIP should stay in clear focus as you proceed through the evaluation, selection, and implementation process.  Strong relationships with your internal and external partners will go a long way in ensuring your success.

Rubenstein / Justman Management Consultants prides itself in the strong relationships it has established with its many clients over the past 24 years.