ERP is for the long term. So both ERP suppliers and their customers should strive to build solid, long-term relationships.
When selecting an ERP provider, you’re looking for a functional fit, but also a cultural one. Your business, and the ERP provider, will be working together long after the initial implementation has been forgotten.
But what are the secrets to making that relationship a flourishing one? You could do worse than picking up a few tips from marriage guidance and relationship experts...
#1 Stay positive
If you want a successful and fulfilled relationship, you’ll need to maintain a positive frame of mind. Look for what’s good, not for what isn’t. So with ERP. It’s important to understand what you want from the relationship, and to set solid objectives and goals in order to accurately assess your return on the investment.
#2 Ask, don’t demand
It’s important to let your partner know your needs and wants - but clearly, and respectfully. Many ERP suppliers demand that customers implement frequent upgrades, which can be time-consuming, inefficient and costly. Likewise, some customers impose requirements of little mainstream value. See the other side’s point of view, stay respectful, and value a partner who is flexible.
#3 Re-live the happy moments
Couples in a successful relationship have a knack of glossing over unhappy times, and focusing on the good moments and fond memories.
With ERP, e-learning and scheduled training courses are a great way to remind you of some of your system’s rich functionality. It might have always been there, but didn’t seem to be a priority when first implementing.
#4 Know when your partner needs attention
Happy couples tend to sense when there’s something amiss with their partner, and are attuned to those all-important signals.
So with ERP. Every business has its own individual requirements, and a rigid one size fits all approach lacks flexibility. An ERP supplier who develops its product in house is better able to sense those needs, and offer that flexibility.
#5 Connect on a regular basis
Happy couples make a point of doing things together. According to relationship experts, couples who aren’t growing together, tend to grow apart.
A good ERP provider will understand this, and will offer operational account management on a day-to-day basis, supplemented by strategic relationship contact at a director level. It will offer account management as part of the service, and encourage an active and well-supported user group.
#6 Don’t be complacent
Happy couples know that they have to look for ways to keep their relationship fresh, vibrant and fruitful.
A good ERP supplier understands the importance of not taking longstanding customers for granted, or overlooking them in the chase for new business. Customers, meanwhile, should regularly review their processes, assessing how their businesses may have changed. Neither party should stand still.
#7 It’s the little things that count
In any relationship, say experts, what truly matters is being there for each other, without being asked. ERP projects aren’t simply technical endeavours. They’re also financial, emotional, structural, strategic, process, and people centric initiatives. Ignore these other dimensions at your peril.
ERP selection isn’t just about ‘feature and function’ fit - it’s about finding a partner you can work with, and grow with over the long term.