ERP Managed Services

How to Manage the Transition to a 3rd Party ERP Support Provider

Dave Kravitt, CPIM

Are you considering working with a 3rd party ERP support provider? The transition process can have a decisive impact on this provider’s value to your business.

In this blog, we examine the keys to managing a smooth transition process that will allow your new support team to function as a seamless extension of your organization.

Still deciding between vendor support versus a 3rd party ERP support strategy? We break down the pros and cons of each approach in our blog here.

Why a Robust Transition Strategy is Essential for ERP Support

When selecting a 3rd party ERP support provider, it is critical to evaluate how different vendors will manage the onboarding process at your organization. ERP systems are densely interwoven with day-to-day operations, and the most effective third-party support teams must:

  • Have a dedicated process for assimilating to your business environment. To provide the greatest possible value, third party resources should truly become part of your team.
  • Take the time to understand the nuances of your business, your markets, and your operations. A good ERP support team should have a nuanced understanding of how the ERP system is used, how it can be enhanced to address current operational challenges, and how it will need to evolve alongside the future of the business.
  • Have a formal process for ensuring due diligence during the transition process, particularly related to areas such as documentation, security, and clearly delineating support responsibilities such as the scope of the applications supported.
  • Understand the history of your ERP software and its modifications. An effective 3rd party support provider should be able to help overcome “ERP burnout” and identify areas where new functionality can enhance the value of your system.
  • Adhere to your organization’s software change management processes (or be able to implement change management processes if they don’t currently exist).

We strongly recommend having a conversation about the transition and onboarding process with any potential support provider. A thorough provider should be ready to lead a detailed discussion of a formal, well-documented transition plan. This small act of due diligence can help ensure that your support provider will offer not only the right technical capabilities but also the detail-oriented approach needed to tailor these capabilities to unique business requirements.

What to Look for in An Effective Onboarding Process for a New ERP Support Provider

An effective ERP support provider should employ a systematic onboarding process for new ERP clients. The ideal onboarding process should fulfill all of the requirements discussed above, be rooted in formal documentation, and set the foundation for a true long-term partnership. The end goal of an effective transition process is ultimately an ERP support team that functions as a seamless extension of your organization.

A Proactive Approach to Establishing Open Communication and a Customer-Specific Account Management Structure

Ideally, your support provider should provide partner-level access and contact information to new clients, in addition to a dedicated account manager who functions as a point-person for understanding organizational needs, challenges, and opportunities, and organizing the appropriate team of resources to help. 

Moving forward, the account manager should regularly review support performance statistics, using this data to position all of the resources and knowledge needed to support current and impending needs. Finally, an easy help desk process is a crucial element for facilitating an effective transition. This help desk should be prepared to deal with just about any application-related issue, including performance issues, requests for new functionality, general questions about using the application, and advice on how to make use of the software more effectively. 

Transition Application Support Work While Ensuring Business Continuity

A new support team must be ready to hit the ground running in your organization, starting by identifying and understanding the connections between the ERP system and your organization’s day-to-day operating requirements. The ultimate focus is to relieve your internal staff completely of any application support work, freeing up these resources to focus on value-added projects and initiatives.

Any critical information relayed during early sales discussions should be carefully forwarded to the transition team to avoid duplicated efforts and start the transition process as smoothly as possible. This initial knowledge transfer should be backed by an extensive data-gathering process designed to translate strategic business requirements into detailed action items for the transition process. A prototypical transition process should include:

  • Sharing or creating an organizational chart with clear points of contact for all relevant business functions.
  • Generation of a detailed application map designed to capture the connections between the ERP and other software systems with a focus on identifying which applications are business-critical.
  • An in-depth review of existing ERP support procedures, business priorities, and reporting processes. 
  • Interviews with key business personnel, including detailed system walkthroughs with key users and the subsystems they work with on a day-to-day basis.
  • A detailed technical review covering all libraries in the system, database maps, establishing the location of relevant source code repositories, etc. 

Taking an exhaustive approach to knowledge-gathering during the transition process always bears fruit, equipping your support team to identify problem areas and allocate support resources appropriately.

Learn More About ERP Support from PSGi

If you are still considering the best approach to ERP support for your business, we encourage you to reach out to our team. We have ground-level experience working with a broad range of manufacturers who rely on business-critical ERP systems each and every day, and we are here to help pinpoint the most effective approach for your ERP. Properly managed, third-party support can save money while allowing your IT organization to employ its internal resources more efficiently and effectively than ever before.

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