The vast majority of enterprise software implementations today — more than 90 percent — are led by system integrators (SIs) and software providers (SPs). Still, the importance of these technology partners is growing.
This is because cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions are continuing to solidify their tech role for modern businesses striving to transform. The appeal of a renewable, pay-as-you-go approach just makes too much logical and financial sense.
However, with one evolution comes another: What it means to be an SI or SP is changing. The days of selling and implementing a solution and then going your separate ways are gone. To succeed in 2022 and beyond, partners must embrace an ongoing trusted advisor role, one focused on deeper relationships and continuous communication. Because for customers to renew their subscriptions down the line, the value they’re getting must be apparent at every step of the journey.
So, what do channel partners need to succeed in an ERP landscape littered with tales of missed deadlines, delayed go-live dates and underwhelming implementations?
A vision. A voice. And a path to true value.
When I speak with business leaders who have struggled with transformation projects, they consistently cite a lack of clear planning and the absence of a well-delineated roadmap as obstacles to cloud success. Far too often, the work gets bogged down during implementation and all involved lose sight of what exactly it was they had set out to achieve.
That’s why partner vision is essential to realizing genuine transformation. Partners must be able to explain and drive implementation plans that enhance communication, detail exhaustive training processes, and outline actionable change management guidelines. Partners should be able to show where investment ought to begin, focus on areas that are most mission-critical, and lay out how cloud software will actually be adopted and consumed by employees day-to-day. Being able to clearly visualize these things will help clear the path for success down the road.
For instance, my team recently worked on an ERP project with a multinational company focused on selling farming, construction and landscaping equipment. The business needed to consolidate six business units into a single ERP instance. By working hand in hand with the SI, we were able to develop a stronger plan. Today, their vision is sharper, and they’re well on their way to where they want to be.
A Single Voice of Truth
Anyone who’s worked in technology knows that — especially in the case of massive digital transformation projects — the customer is not necessarily “always right.” In fact, to improve the odds of success, projects need SIs or SPs who aren’t afraid to tell customer business leaders exactly when and how they could be doing something better. Fruitful journeys require a partner that can serve as a single voice of truth and as a technology expert that can guide teams through the process with grace, honesty and expertise. This is why customers shouldn’t just be looking for the cheapest, or even most well-known, option. They should be looking for someone who truly understands their business.
A partner should also maintain focus on a ‘fit-to-standard’ mindset during transformation, with an emphasis on industry-specific and pre-configured best practices. This will serve customers (especially those in the midmarket) who simply don’t have the time or money to spend on ample customizations and complications. More so, focusing on best practices will help ensure critical cost savings in the short- and long-run, enabling customers to save for enhancements and modifications that are only absolutely necessary.
Take heed: Turning a transformation project into an inward-facing, over-specialized jumble of ideas is the fastest way to guarantee your new system will be just as dysfunctional as your old one.
The Path to Value
The final critical piece for SIs and SPs — inescapable and essential — is the software vendor they partner with. To ensure lasting success, vendors must offer a well-paved path for partners — one they can live and breathe by.
At SAP, we call this blueprint ‘RISE with SAP,’ and it essentially serves as a comprehensive roadmap to transformation. Whether working with our ERP, BPI or BTP — take your pick of acronyms — partners should be able to easily understand and grasp the entire transformation package. The vendor path to value also must contain:
- Elimination of the risk associated with running legacy core ERP systems
- Partner accountability, where the success of customer investment and partner IP is inextricable
- Reshaping of internal roles to focus on more strategic, top-line initiatives
- A platform you can truly innovate on
When setting out on a transformation journey, leaders must take into account all three parts of the customer-partner-vendor triumvirate. By doing so vigorously and intelligently, customers can ensure they are well on their way to transforming not just their company but transforming vision into value.