For any higher education organization implementing a new cloud ERP system, getting the right advice from the outset is critical. But with such a wide spectrum of professional services firms in the market, selecting the ‘right’ one can be challenging. Options range from low-touch ‘advisory services’ to white-glove ‘consultancy services’. And from cloud ERP software vendors (or their professional services divisions) to systems integration (SI) or third-party niche firms.
To decide which ones will be the best fit for their needs, institutions should consider three (often overlooked) factors:
1) Non-software implementation costs
A cloud ERP implementation will have costs beyond the software itself. This exposes one of the principal differences between advisory and consultancy firms. Advisory firms may not account for the costs associated with project management, optimizing a service delivery model, data quality and validation, integrating system management, change management (ie change readiness, communications, training, etc.) and deployment management and support.
Consultancy firms offer methodologies, tools and people who are equipped to address each of those costs in detail. And they’ll openly recommend including them in the implementation. This is essential for accurate project estimates and budgets, even if the project ahead is only a ‘small-t’ transformation.
2) Availability of internal resource and expertise
Many higher education organizations now have the technical know-how to take on significant portions of a cloud ERP implementation themselves. People on the team will have experience of previous ERP implementations, so using them will help to reduce a project’s professional services costs.
Sounds tempting? But it often runs up against reality. The never-ending demands of business as usual, and the emergence of competing projects can quickly eat into the time even the best internal people have to devote to an ERP implementation.
If an institution cannot take on, say, 90 percent of the workload (which is common in arrangements with advisory firms), but believes the cost of outsourcing to a consultancy service is too high, it can face an awkward dilemma between time and money.
But there’s a way forward. Many consultancy firms will consider alternatives to the traditional 60/40, external/internal resource split. Simply moving from 60/40 to 40/60 can materially reduce a firm’s fees. This shifts more responsibility for achieving outcomes to the business. But safeguards and remedies can be built into the arrangement. And it provides an opportunity to hone and develop in-house skills.
3) Support models
For higher education institutions seeking to use their cloud ERP implementation as a springboard for a broader transformation, this can be the ideal moment to look again at shared services or multi-tiered support models. These can be critical to the long-term success of an ERP implementation. However, some advisory firms may not include them in their discussions.
I’d be delighted to discuss in more detail what these three points may mean in the context of your own organization.
Explore more on how to journey to the cloud at https://www.accenture.com/us-en/cloud-migration-services.
Join the conversation in higher education at https://www.accenture.com/digitalstudent.
See this post on LinkedIn: Redesigning Higher Ed – Partnering for success