How to find a great VAR for your ERP Systems: Tips for picking the right partner.
Shopping for an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) System? Purchasing a new ERP accounting system can be a daunting task. ERP systems have lots of moving parts that undoubtedly touch all aspects of your company. Using a VAR to help you navigate the process can be a big help. The acronym VAR stands for Value Added Reseller. What’s the value that they add? Not only do they sell ERP products, usually they come with deep technical knowledge of specific product lines. They should also be familiar with ancillary add-on products. Bringing in the right VAR can turn a nightmare project into a smooth execution and launch.
Why is it smart to have a VAR on board?
A VAR can help you stay on task during implementation while you continue to tend to your normal daily job activities. A VAR can work as a bridge between your IT staff and C level staff. Knowing how to speak “business” languages is a skill of a good VAR, while also offering advice on deployment and best practices.
How do you find a good VAR?
We have some recommended resources for you. First, any large (i.e. NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, Intuit-QuickBooks) ERP Software companies will have vendor directories or “find a partner” tools right on their corporate websites. They will usually direct you to a selection of VARs in your geographic area.
Have a favorite piece of business software that you already use from an ISV? Call and ask them if they have any good VAR connections that they can recommend. ISVs are in the trenches with VARs daily, they should have good knowledge of anyone they recommend.
Our last secret tip for VAR shopping is to research their user group communities. Most ERP systems have a user community forum i.e. message boards, regional meet up groups, LinkedIn groups, forums and even user conventions. A great example is Microsoft Dynamics. Across all of their ERP platforms (AX, GP, NAV and SL) they have fantastic, engaged user group cultures. This last tip has two benefits; use these resources to find a good VAR and stay in touch on these forums. You will be able to get the inside scoop on product bugs, training offers and new releases. By taking a spin around the user groups platforms you should be able to connect with someone who can help or point you in the right direction.
Also, take a look at who is blogging the most about your ERP software, see who answers user functionality questions online. These SMEs “subject matter experts” love to share their knowledge. Reach out to them and they will usually be happy to help you.
Here are some things to keep in mind…
- First, in general, are you comfortable speaking to the potential VAR? Do they have the same conversation style as you? If you prefer to speak to people on the phone, are they responsive and reachable? If you are tech savvy are they speaking to you on a level you can relate to? Same for if you are not tech savvy. Are you interested in this person’s personal life anecdotes or are you a “head down and working” type of communicator? You want to be able to have easy two-way conversation.
- Do they have references you can contact? Have they worked with other companies in the same industry as you? This can be critical—if they know industry specific setup idiosyncrasies, best practices and industry specific jargon you are one step ahead. For example, picking a VAR with mostly retail implementation experience might not be the best fit for someone with a hospital environment.
- Do they have a SOP (standard operating procedure) doc you can review? At Sierra we have an infographic that takes you through our implementation process. This document clearly and simply explains the steps of our implementation process and benchmarks. If a prospect wants a more granular look we send them in depth documents. If they do have these docs, do their implementation practices make sense to you? Do you think that they will be prepared and organized enough for you?
- Are they certified, and on what level, for the product you are looking to purchase and implement? Do they have access to upper level support if need be? Check out their company website. Do they have white papers available, or do they blog a lot about their ERP solutions?
Launching a new ERP system for your company can be an overwhelming undertaking. To help you through the process, enlist the help of a VAR. These “Value Added Resellers” can help you navigate the configuration and deployment of the software and beyond. There are plenty of free resources to help guide you to the right fit for you and your implementation needs. Making sure you have the right VAR partner should be your first step to a successful ERP implementation.
You can find out more about our integrated ERP products here.