Choosing A Software Implementation Partner in 2021
With the beginning of a new year, many business owners and managers will be eager to improve systems and processes within their organisation.
One of the major decisions that often needs to be made as part of the process is choosing a software expert to partner with throughout the implementation of new software.
This article will share a few straightforward tips and considerations to ensure you are well informed to select an implementation partner and setup yourself, and your business up for software success!
Do I need an implementation partner?
Before we dive into the key areas of consideration when choosing a partner, you may be asking yourself if you even need one? or even asking ” What is a software implementation partner? “.
A software implementation partner or systems integrator is typically an independent company, separate from the software vendor that is authorised to implement, develop, train and support the specific software system. Depending on the type of partner, they may also re-sell the software licensing.
Working with an implementation partner gives you the best chance at a successfully implementing of the software, especially the more complex your requirements are.
Some of the benefits can be summarised as –
- Expediate the learning of a new software system
- Free up your own teams time and resources during the implementation
- Ensure the software is being configured correctly to meet your business requirements
- Transfer knowledge to your team so they can become ‘champions’ of the new system
- Provide ongoing advice, support and updates as your software changes and evolves.
Tip #1 – Use Authorised Partners Only
One of the first questions you should be asking yourself when approaching implementation partners is ‘Are they a vendor authorised partner?’. There are thousands of software systems available for selection and equally just as many businesses offering services for those systems.
An authorised partner is officially approved by the software vendor to provide services. They have been through a certification process and vetted by the vendor to ensure the have the suitable skills and resources to deliver services for the specific software.
In the same way it is critical to use a licensed plumber or electrician, its also critical to use a properly endorsed and authorised implementation partner.
Here are some simple ways to identify authorised partners –
- Check the software vendors website for their partner listing
- Ask the vendor directly if the organisation is an authorised partner
- Ask the partner to provide evidence themselves of authorised partnership
- Ask the partner to provide evidence of how long they have been an authorised partner
Tip #2 – Partner Capabilities & Experience
Once you have identified that your selected implementation partner is authorised and endorsed by the vendor, you will want to evaluate the partners capabilities and experience to ensure they can deliver the outcomes for your business.
There are a number of factors to consider when evaluating capabilities of a partners, start by asking about their team, number of employees, breakdown of skillset and who specifically will your business be working with during the implementation.
Do they have a team that can provide continuity of service if staff members leave?
The early stage engagement should also give some indication as to the experience of the partner. Do they follow a structured process, do they have a clear pricing structure, can they comprehensively answer your questions about the software functionality.
Its also worth cautioning against partners who always say ‘yes’. Software implementation is complex and there will always be challenges, you will want to work with a partner who is transparent and honest about what can and cannot be achieved.
Tip #3 – Development & Integration
If your solution requires deep customisation, API integration or scripting of any kind, this is one area that has the potential to make or break your implementations success.
Software development is vastly more complex than software configuration and if you are engaging a partner to develop integration or customisations on top of your software solution it is critical you ensure they have the skill set to deliver the desired outcome.
Some areas to help evaluate the partners software development expertise are –
- Do they have in-house developers or are they overseas/offshore. If they are offshore, how are they managed? Who leads the development team?
- Is the price too cheap? The reality is that quality software development comes at a price, if the partner is offering complex development services and a price that feels to good to be true….well, you know how the saying goes.
- Process and experience is everything is software development. Ask the partner to break down the software development life-cycle and walk you through the process. They should be confident in their approach.
Tip #4 – Reputation & Trust
At the end of day probably the one overriding quality you will want in your chosen implementation partner is Trust.
It is important that you can partner with the company for the duration of the implementation and beyond, to build a trusting partnership that allows challenges to be overcome and communication to be clear and transparent.
It is always worth asking for references of existing customers who can provide an independent review of their experience working with the partner, they can also share with you their implementation challenges and successes.
If you find a partner you can truly trust then almost anything is possible. You will reach your software outcomes faster and build a valued partnership that you can rely on as your business grows.