You’ve made it through the RFP and vendor presentations, you’ve narrowed your final selection down to the final 2 or 3 SAP or ERP vendors that you will hire for the engagement. What are the important things to verify that will help you understand if you will achieve benefit?
Every integrator who has been in business for any period of time will have a few great references. Just because they have a few customers who will give them a glowing reference does NOT translate into them reproducing those results for you. The ONLY thing that translates into real results for your SAP implementation are the consultants who come to your project (for more information, please see FIXING Stupid SAP Vendor – Partner Selection RFI – RFP Processes ).
To avoid being taken advantage by so many of the system integrators the real focus should be on who the vendor will provide to implement your SAP solution. The background “success” checks should come directly from the clients those consultants have worked on before. Think about it, just because a vendor can provide a customer reference, if none of those consultants will be working on your project what difference does it make?
There are several things to look for in the consultant references.
SAP Vendor Selection and Consultant Skill Verification
Every one of the key project control areas is directly influenced by your consultants: Scope, Schedule, Cost, and Performance.
- How well was scope first defined, and then managed?
- How was the schedule adhered to (was it realistic and were the correct adjustments made at the right time?).
- Was the budget adhered to or did the budget start to “balloon” out of control?
- Were there good metrics for the project and for the business to gauge whether or not you achieved business benefit from your implementation?
Think about it, during the sales cycle those sales people have NO direct influence over any one of those critical areas for managing your project for success. Your vendor evaluation should center on how the consultants, who will deliver the solution, impacted or affected those 4 key criteria.
After the sales people leave you will pay the consultants to deliver on the sales promises
SAP Scope, Schedule, Cost, and Performance Evaluation
- What is important to you (Performance) – what is important to your company or your SAP implementation? Once you determine the critical success items you can ask the right kind of questions from references.
- This is NOT a “people” visit (Scope, Schedule, and Cost) – the whole idea behind the verification is to understand whether or not the SAP vendor is providing you with the talented resources you need to be successful on YOUR project. So it is important to understand how well the consultant(s) performed and what they did. Just because a consultant or a vendor built a great relationship with the customer does not mean they are the right fit for you. Often these “great relationships” are because the vendor avoided helping the customer through some of the harder decisions that make for great implementations but can stress the vendor – customer relationship at times.
- How was this implemented? (Scope and Schedule) – Gain some basic insight and understanding around the implementation issues. What type of project (rollout, big bang, etc.).
- Find strengths / weaknesses (i.e. lessons learned – in hindsight how would they have done it differently? Performance)
- What worked well / what didn’t
- Look for specifics that include objective evaluations, not how the vendor made them “feel” about their “success”
- Beware of reference customers who receive vendor “awards” because these can be ways the vendor plays on their ego about how great they are to hide the real potential problems.
- Don’t worry if “everything” isn’t up (Scope and Schedule)
- Be concerned if nothing is up
- Scope, schedule, cost, and performance means that at times some things may change depending on a company’s actual requirements. Ask questions related to:
- How well was scope initially defined (were lots of things added or removed from the original expectation?)
- How close was the project timeline and schedule? Did the project go over time? If so, by how much?
- Was the proposed cost within a reasonable limit of the original budget (any large ERP project, like SAP, WILL have some fluctuation from the original estimate). Many companies may build in a 10% contingency. If it is more than this then that might be cause for concern. Estimates should be fairly accurate but every business is different and there will be some adjustments.
- How smooth was the transition at go-live? Were there serious issues that came up when you went live that could have been more adequately prevented by more thorough testing, better development, greater project coordination, etc…
- Consultant verifications (this one covers them all, Scope, Schedule, Cost and Performance).
- Ask for resumes of the ACTUAL proposed project team as part of the final RFP proposal.
- Do not accept the “PowerPoint” resumes often provided but ask for the fully detailed resume each consultant maintains, with detailed project experience and customer information defined.
- Demand that the system integrator provide e-mail addresses, at the consultant’s last 3 clients, on that client’s domain name to verify experience claims. This should be non-negotiable, there are WAYYYYyyyy too many fakes and frauds in the marketplace.
By performing the due diligence around consultants provided by an SAP or ERP system integrator you will end up with better results. The focus on the consultants an ERP vendor provides for your project cannot be overlooked. After the sales process is over it is the SAP or ERP consultants who will deliver the solution. After the sales people leave you will pay the consultants to deliver on the sales promises.
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