Implementing Dynamics GP or any other ERP system often involves software from more than one vendor in order to satisfy your unique business requirements. It could be a document management application, an e-commerce website, a time clock solution, retail point of sale, hospital materials management application, service management solution or any ISV product that complements Dynamics GP or another ERP platform. With multiple vendors involved, how do you manage so that the implementation of all applications is done as promised and on time without finger-pointing and extra costs that could occur if a vendor misses its mark?
Based on our experience with implementing Dynamics GP and companion ISV solutions, here are some tips that we recommend:
Decide before implementation starts if you want one of the vendor partners to manage the overall project so that you don’t have to manage tasks getting done by multiple external teams or if you are going to manage the project yourself. Assess your team’s capabilities around project management and the extra time (and associated cost of that time) that it might take. The partner will most likely charge a project management fee in addition to its standard implementation fee so you should get an estimate of that cost from the partner before making the decision on which route to go.
If managing the overall project is not what you want to do, then ask your Dynamics GP partner (or main ERP partner) first if they have the resources, time, and the willingness and expertise to do the overall project management for you. As a partner who has been implementing Dynamics GP for over 10 years we have never turned away the request by a client to manage the overall implementation, but if your Dynamics GP partner (or other ERP partner) declines your request, then go to the other vendors involved to see if they might be a good fit. But you will want to make sure they have a strong understanding of the ERP system in order to manage tasks associated with it. Discuss the additional cost for project management and come to an agreement before proceeding. Ask for references from the partner on other implementations that they have done to prove that they are good at managing projects and getting things done. If none of the vendor partners involved have the skill set or willingness to manage the overall project, then look for a partner outside of the software vendors that is strong in project management.
If you decide to do the project management yourself or if you have a partner do it for you, these are the things that we recommend you do or should expect that the assigned partner does on your behalf:
Make sure that you stay in lock step with the partners. Schedule some calls with all of the partners together to make sure that everyone has a solid plan that ties together in one approach. Work out any disagreements before additional work is done. Try to get to know each vendor’s product and how it fits/integrates with the others to be able to see the big picture.
Have one project plan that includes tasks from all partners so that all people involved can see how it all fits together and how things are going overall. A more detailed project plan of your own that you keep in house might help to keep your team on track.
Help the other partners out when you can. Being the conduit to building relationships is important in the success of the implementation.
If the project is very large, consider having some face to face workshop meetings with the partners in the beginning to get a clear scope, define clear roles, tasks and due dates.
If there are multiple players in the project on your end and on the other partners’ teams, make sure your team members know what their tasks are and who their counterparts are at the other partners.
As in everything, communication and follow-up is key!
The successful implementation of your new ERP system with multiple software vendors is the result of strong project management skills. If you decide to do it yourself, we hope that these tips help. If you have questions or are looking for a partner that has proven expertise in implementing Dynamics GP and managing large and complicated projects with multiple software vendors, please feel free to call us at 218- 486-5095 or send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
by Deb Sletmoen, MCT, Implementation Specialists – Microsoft Dynamics GP Gold Partner with Advanced ERP Competency and Source Code Provider
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