As an ERP implementation partner, we understand that transparency is mutually beneficial for everyone involved in an ERP implementation. A shared commitment to transparency can help improve project management, project planning, data hygiene and migration, change management, cost overruns, and more.

In this blog, we will take a 30,000-foot view of how transparency can help improve ERP implementations. We will also reveal the perspectives of the ERP implementation partner and the customer because we have been on both sides of the equation.

ERP implementation partner transparency during the sales & discovery

Each sale and discovery process is different, just like each ERP implementation, but they should all start with a foundation of transparency. Routinely misleading potential customers, in the beginning, will catch up with you eventually.

Something will break during an upgrade, data will go missing, a dashboard will not update, or worse, and the implementation team will be asked to fix it. This could eat into the available bucket of hours, cause a delay, or in the worst-case scenario, loss of the customer.

It’s paramount for partners to properly communicate capabilities, understanding of the potential customer’s business and challenges, proficiency in implementing the proposed solution, and references from satisfied customers.

It pays to be transparent, regardless of any shortcomings. The implementation partner might not have the exact expertise the prospective customer is seeking, but that does not mean the partner is eliminated from consideration or incapable of delivering a long-term solution. At SuiteCentric, we trademarked the word TransCAREncy™ with the USPTO, and it became our company motto. Learn about it here.

Additionally, the proposed ERP might not be a turnkey solution either. It could require extensive customizations and/or integrations, and it might not be the right option for them. Understanding and communicating this message is perhaps the most critical part of the sales and discovery process.

It can help earn executive sponsorship and save both parties time, money, resources, and possible reputational damage.

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Why it’s also important for the customer

It’s best to err on the side of caution during the sales and discovery process by being as transparent as possible. Occasionally, this means admitting that you don’t know what you don’t know.

Minimizing the potential for surprises later down the road will yield a higher success rate for the actual implementation and go-live. It will also result in cost savings and overall satisfaction. And avoidance of an ERP failure.

Customer transparency during the planning stage

Once the ERP and implementation partner are selected, the effort to turn the metaphorical cruise ship starts. For customers, planning generally includes setting up project teams, helping to define system requirements for the implementation partner, and working with them on the implementation strategy.

Customers will create an implementation team and establish a chain of command and communication preferences internally and with the implementation partner. It is also helpful to develop an issue escalation process and perform a gap analysis.

Confirming these aspects helps make it easier to remain transparent throughout the implementation. The last thing anyone wants is internal turmoil before the implementation and training process starts.

Why it’s also important for the ERP implementation partner

Partners go through a similar process compared to customers, but there is an added emphasis on understanding system requirements and finalizing the implementation strategy. Implementation teams will be built with people who have industry-specific or product-specific experience, and these folks will take the lead throughout the planning and execution stages.

Regardless of the implementation strategy, if it is a phased rollout, hybrid, parallel adoption, etc. the common denominators should be transparency and communication.

Planning is also when partners can establish a baseline of transparency with the customer. Ideally, there are options for customers to have greater visibility if desired. This builds mutual trust and accountability.

For example, the SuiteCentric team engages in regular check-in calls with customers, and we utilize SmartSheet, Jira, and kanban boards to provide visibility into project status. This combination offers passive and active channels for monitoring the status of projects.

Our approach to communication includes regular calls and emails, Slack channels, assigned project managers, and mutually agreed upon issue escalation procedures.

work brainstorm meeting, ERP implementation partner, SuiteCentric, NetSuite

ERP implementation partner transparency during implementation and testing

At this point, the communication channels and escalation procedures established during the planning stage are hopefully getting used a lot. Everyone needs to do their part by reinforcing the mutually agreed upon checks and balances.

Implementation partners should manage up when appropriate to reveal snags or new findings that can cause project delays or require more budget. Good communication and transparency can help lessen the impact of negative news and could reveal easy fixes that were not readily apparent.

During the more formal benchmark review meetings, it might be a good idea to examine the customer’s satisfaction with the existing communication and escalation procedures. For example, perhaps the weekly calls can become biweekly, or a new person being added to the project.

Offering a forum for feedback at specific milestones can provide peace of mind and ensure alignment of duties and expectations.

Why it’s also essential for customers

Handing over this much control of a company can feel unnerving, but transparency and open communication help ease the discomfort.

Customers might feel like a passenger in their own car, but the onus is on them to manage-up and ask questions throughout the implementation process. This is critical, especially for data migrations, system integrations, training, and organizational change management activities.

It is a valuable practice that we remind customers of all the time. If there is a question or further clarity is needed, just ask. We’re here to help!

Customer transparency during go-live and beyond

Hopefully, by now, most of the testing and checklists have ruled out the significant hiccups that can occur during a go-live, but unexpected issues can arise. This is not the time to hold back because working with a partially functioning ERP can be disastrous.

At SuiteCentric, we have successfully executed go-lives in almost every way possible. Our entire customer team has been onsite at customer offices, we have been fully remote, or we used a hybrid approach. The common factors leading to success were our team’s availability and responsiveness. We also offer post-go-live support to ensure everything functions properly through a complete billing cycle. (See our case studies.)

Why it’s also vital for the ERP implementation partner

During the go-live, it is best to maintain the status quo by continuing the level of transparency that has worked throughout the project. Communication will likely increase as different systems go online and switch over. The most valuable ability during this time is availability.

It is best practice to assign dedicated resources for the customer to answer questions, resolve issues, and provide support. After go-live, the ERP implementation partner should follow up to ensure nothing broke and to tie up loose ends.

With this level of attention and transparency, hopefully, the customer will return and/or become referenceable for future new business opportunities.

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