Change is always hard on a business, especially when it comes time to migrate from an old, familiar software product to a newer, advanced package. The success of a software migration project typically hinges on finding a System Integrator (SI) that can understand your business challenges and install the new software while keeping the company’s core values and processes intact.
By definition, System Integrators are essentially consultants who specialize in installing, configuring and customizing the new software, then training your organization on its use. Here are five essential qualities that define a useful SI:
1 – In-Depth Technical and Business Knowledge
Major software implementation projects invariably run into problems. It’s not anyone’s fault – These ventures simply involve a lot of moving parts and complex code, all handled while your day‐to‐day operation continues. For this reason alone, we recommend that you identify an SI partner that has a documented track record with the software, and has responded to problems as they arose with smart decisions. An SI should be able to look at a software bug and know how to tackle the problem quickly.
2 – Expert Advice
During your SI vetting process, search for an integrator whose professional opinion you can value. Remember: The SI will effectively become your business partner for the duration of the project. Thus, they should grasp the long‐term vision of the company for the software being installed. They should also be able to detect and work around hidden costs that are often buried in the details. Ideally, the SI you select will be on your side – advocating for the best deal overall, not just one that runs up their hourly billable time.
3 – Planning, Efficiency and Accountability
Before the project begins, you should set important target dates and expected deliverables from the SI. This will set expectations on both sides beyond a “good faith policy.” It’s crucial that the SI be capable of timely, efficient work.
The clearer the goals are defined, the less chance of misinterpretation on both sides. The SI should be able to review the timelines and, if agreed upon, break up the project into “phases” and tangible milestones.
4 – Improvisation and Customization
All SI partners have the capacity to install the software and train your organization to use it. The true value is in finding someone who can meet your precise needs and specifications. If you are re‐engineering many processes to accommodate a software package, something is probably wrong with the project, or with the SI. Keep in mind, your day‐to‐day routine is inherent to your corporate culture, and is your competitive advantage – don’t allow unnecessary changes to rock the boat.
5 – Documentation
Every project spawns its own set of unique problems and solutions that are above and beyond the standard user guide. Before your SI concludes their work be sure they provide a reference document while it’s still fresh in your mind. It’s tedious work, but can save your co‐workers a lot of stress down the road.
In short, a main driver of purchasing new software is to help run your business more smoothly with fewer long-term costs. However, overall success in maximizing your software investment relies on finding an SI that is motivated to work hard and is aligned to your corporate goals.Maurice Berdugo, BP Analytics