Managed Services

Should You Outsource Support for Your Enterprise Business Systems?

Dave Kravitt, CPIM

The decision on whether to outsource support for enterprise resource planning and other business systems can be a difficult one, depending on the complexity of the overall IT environment and whatever vendor support agreement may or may not be in place. Often the decision revolves around money – in most cases you would be spending significantly less with a third-party support company. Although cost is always a top concern and the driving force behind many decisions to outsource support, if you are considering outsourcing support, there are other areas besides cost to consider to improve your system support ROI.  Support should be more than an insurance policy, it should be one of the elements in your foundation for success.  If that is not what you are getting now, perhaps a third party solution should be a consideration.

Domain Knowledge

A key weakness for many vendor software support teams and some third-party support teams is lack of industry-specific knowledge that limits their ability to address many specific industry-related software issues such as manufacturing ERP systems.  A third-party support company with deep industry experience will have a much better understanding of the industry-specific issues you might have, enabling them to provide faster, more relevant support with the best resolution for your problems.  The vendor will often keep any industry specific knowledge in their consulting ranks and outside of the support ranks.  Some third-party support providers will do the same or look for the lowest cost of delivering those services.  When considering a third-party provider, take a look at how they deliver the support services and their hiring policies. 

Support of YOUR System Not the Standard System

Software vendors will seldom support any modifications to their applications, requiring you to use internal resources to support system modifications or contract for outsourced support.  Many third-party support vendors include support of your modifications in their standard offering thereby freeing up internal resources for more strategic tasks. More often than not, the issues that your company will need help with will be the customized versions of your software.  Look for a partner who has the flexibility and experience with working on highly modified environments. 

Business Consulting

In some cases, outsourced support providers also deliver business consulting with their support offering, significantly reducing overall support costs. Consulting is especially valuable from providers with specific industry and domain expertise. One of the benefits claimed by vendors is their consulting staff.  You should be able to get these same services with equal if not better expertise than the vendor in a good third-party support provider.  In some cases, the third-party support provider will include some of these services in the support agreement, enabling you to have even more flexibility in how you allocate your support dollars to tasks that are important to you. 

For complex, enterprise-wide systems such as ERP, a third-party support provider with extensive industry and ERP management expertise and experience can provide tremendous ROI by optimizing business processes while tuning the software to increase system effectiveness. 

If some level of vendor support is part of your software license agreement, it’s important to know exactly what it covers and any limitations included in it. Most license agreements provide companies with the right to hire third parties to work on their systems. A quick check before you enter into any serious discussions with an independent enterprise IT and ERP system management provider will help you avoid complications later. 

To learn more about outsourcing enterprise systems support, download our Should You Outsource Support for Enterprise Systems? white paper, email us, or call us at

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