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A Blog Series for Microsoft Dynamics Partners by Kati Hvidtfeldt, US Microsoft Dynamics ERP Cloud Lead.

Kati color 2004In business the customer is always right—right? Well, yes and no. It’s the partner’s role to help make sure customers are asking the right questions when evaluating ERP solutions, vendors, and cloud vs. on-premises deployment options. It’s not just about the sale, it’s about growing your business by helping customers meet their core business needs.

In this week’s post we feature ERP Senior Product Marketing Manager Pam Misialek’s perspective on the things businesses should think about when they are evaluating ERP solutions. Pam is a 17-year ERP veteran who has worked in ERP across the board from development, support, and training to consulting with partners on how to remedy failed implementations.

This is part of the content Pam presented in her recent webinar, “ERP Evaluation Guide: How to reduce the stress and risk of your ERP evaluation process,” from the new Microsoft Dynamics ERP series for SMBs.

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Studies show that 60-70% of ERP implementations fail. In my career I’ve worked with a lot of customers to reduce their stress around ERP, and to help pull in the right resources to get escalated situations back on track.

Partners can play a critical role in ensuring their customers understand the key factors and best practices that make the other 30-40% successful.

· The #1 factor—Trust: Customers need to trust that the people on the team implementing the solution understand the business and have the ability to execute. It’s not about basing decisions on the reputation of the company or trust in the sales person. It’s about meeting the project manager and the individuals that will be doing the work. Partners need to take the time to earn the customer’s trust for a successful implementation.

· Data migration strategy: Customers always want their data migrated. It’s the partner’s job to help them determine at what level. Migrating data can introduce risk and higher costs. Does your customer really need 10 years of data, or is it better to migrate master records, bring in beginning balances, and leave historical data in the legacy system?

· Customization: Excessive customization is another cause of failed ERP implementations. It’s easy for customers to fall into the “Pimp My Ride” frame of mind, and you can help customers differentiate they customizations they want from what they need. Remind customers that maintenance and cost increase (and ROI decreases) with the level of customization. If a high level of customization is required, customize in smaller chunks through a phased approach.

· Complexity: Most companies restructure their charts of accounts when they change ERP systems. Work with customers to make sure they’re not making them too complex. Complex charts can add steps to the process, take more time, or require more people them make it work. Consult with customers on chart of accounts best practices and keep key performance metrics top of mind.

· Dig past the pretty charts: Today’s ERP systems have a lot to offer and demos are full of shiny objects. Help each customer cut to the chase and understand which features are most important to make the needed business change. By helping customers consider how deployment options and specific features can tangibly impact their specific business processes you guide them to the right decision for a successful implementation.

The failure rate of ERP implementations is much higher than it should be. By working closely with customers before they make decisions about ERP solutions and deployment options, you’ll be in a position to make every implementation smooth and successful.

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To view Pam Misialek’s full on-demand webinar, “ERP Evaluation Guide: How to reduce the stress and risk of your ERP evaluation process,” register here.

To learn more about how to incorporate cloud-based solutions into your business plans visit the Microsoft Dynamics Countdown to the Cloud page on PartnerSource. Go to www.microsoft.com/dynamics/growyourbusiness for resources that demonstrate to customers how Microsoft Dynamics ERP cloud, hybrid and on-premise solutions can benefit their businesses.