Business Relationships are like Marriages:
A business relationship is often likened to that of a marriage requiring a long-term commitment and compromises from both parties. However, the partnership between organisations and their enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors are significantly more nuanced. Using the wedding analogy, It requires commitment and consideration from the entire family.
Unlike a marriage where what others think do not matter, ERP implementations need to be cognisant of the expectations of all business users. It is such a mission-critical element of the organisation that the sentiment of every stakeholder needs to be considered before embracing a new system or upgrading an existing one. In the past, ERP installations were driven by IT departments and others had to fall in line. Modern organisations require a different, more integrated approach that welcomes feedback from all users.
And while you are unlikely to share your significant other with someone else, business-critical systems benefit from working with partners who have relationships with other organisations. Just consider the experience they have addressing unique scenarios and being able to customise the ERP system accordingly. Chances are if you are having a specific challenge, such an experienced partner would know how to solve it. If you restrict your partner to an ‘exclusive’ relationship with just your business, you lose access to all that intellectual capital,
The rewards of a healthy relationship are often intangible. But do you really want your business to not know the value derived from its ERP implementation? Measuring the success of the partnership should be done in the real-world terms, either in financial returns or other business benefits. If there is no real return on investment from your ERP vendor, then there really is no point in working with them.
Part of this is having the capacity to upgrade. While people can evolve and change, you cannot ‘plug’ new features in to them. However, with ERP systems your business should expect such continuous enhancements that reflect changing technology patterns. With digital transformation impacting on all aspects of the organisation, ERP must be able to adapt to more flexible approaches. Your service provider must be able to customise the implementation while you remain focused on your business strategy.
Some might think that, like marriage, your commitment to your ERP vendor should be made upfront and be a lifelong partnership. Realistically, very few business relationships last the distance. Instead, you should be able to work with the service provider at your own pace and in such a way that brings value according to your business priorities.
Transforming your Solution:
In many respects, this also means your ERP partner should be there to take care of your organisational needs. While our spouses cannot spend all their time looking after us, the vendor partnership is one that must be focused on pro-actively identifying issues and helping your business overcome them.
This brings us to the power of communication and accessibility. While we will not be able to maintain a successful marriage by only talking to one another remotely, with ERP this is critical. Being able to embrace mobile and cloud technologies will empower you to have access to the data you need and have conversations with your partner irrespective of physical location and time.
The digital world is all about personalisation. And while a successful marriage is not about correcting each other, the ERP partnership requires that. You should be able to have a customised offering that reflects your immediate needs with your partner able to enhance it as those needs evolve and the business market changes.
Partners in Growth
While personal relationships are exactly that, it will be advantageous for your business if your ERP provider works with other organisations. This provides your business with a partner that has a broader perspective of not only challenges specific to your industry but to others as well. Using this experience, the partner will better be able to deliver business value to your organisation.
Ultimately, sharing your ERP partner will only make for a stronger relationship. This can happen both external to the organisation as well as internal. Getting all stakeholders involved will result in improved employee supplier relationships but also better customer satisfaction.