Resellers as Trusted Advisors
Fifteen years ago, the most important jobs of a CRM or ERP reseller were to know how to make our software work on your network (sometimes not an easy task), to know how to modify the software to mirror your business processes, and to provide training to your end-users. We were basically “technocrats”.
The software world has shifted dramatically in the past fifteen years. Entry level products like Sage 50 or Quickbooks now have greater features and capabilities than most of yesteryear’s high-end software. Training is available online. And business networks have undergone an amazing amount of standardization, driven by Microsoft. Everything works with everything else. Amazing!
Much of the value that resellers provided is now automated, or supplied by easily accessed features in the software or in the operating system. This is a blessing, because it allows resellers not to be handcuffed by technology issues, so that we can concentrate on optimizing the match between your software and your business processes. In short, it has allowed us to become Trusted Advisors.
Success is in Our DNA
One of the most important factors to the success of any ERP or CRM implementation is a Detailed Needs Analysis (DNA). Implementing a new software system requires experience, agility, possibly a little luck, and more than anything else, it requires that your reseller have a strong working knowledge of every nook and cranny of your company’s operations.
A Trusted Advisor can’t have the required familiarity without a Detailed Needs Analysis. In order to prepare a DNA, your software provider must engage in the following processes:
- Finding Your “Special Sauce” – A Trusted Advisor closely examines all your business processes, paying particular attention to your “special sauce”. Those are the business processes that can give you a competitive edge. A trusted advisor can help you hone that special sauce and leverage what you’ve learned in business to make you more competitive.
- Interviewing the Stakeholders – Trusted Advisors interview all the key stakeholders. There’s likely a great deal of institutional knowledge stored in your staff’s heads, and getting to it requires a careful conversation. Not conducting those conversations risks the success of your implementation.
- Talking to Your Customers – A Trusted Advisor talks to your best customers. They want to know how your best customers think that you can improve your services, and how you engage with them more effectively.
- Identifying Your Major Pains – A Trusted Advisor knows where your major pain points are. These are all of the gaps between your current software system, and your ideal business processes. These gaps are costing you money and they are limiting your ability to generate revenues or to stay as efficient as you’d like.
- Knowing Where You’re Headed – A Trusted Advisor must have some idea of your projected growth, and any planned changes to your business model. Unless you want a system that is outdated in two years, your software provider must have a good handle on what your plans for growth and diversification are. Trusted Advisors are eager to help you map out a software system strategy that matches your strategic plan, and to advise your board of directors or owners concerning any major software issues and risks.
You Get What You Pay For
Any thorough DNA will require a great deal of time to be spent by your software provider. Don’t expect to get the DNA at no charge – you get what you pay for. A charge of $5,000 to $10,000 or more is not unusual for a high quality DNA with a written set of findings and recommendations. If you require the software provider to perform their DNA without charging for it, then don’t expect written findings that you can use to shop around for a better software price.
A high quality and written set of findings will be software-agnostic. That means that you can attach those findings to the RFP that you send out to multiple software publishers and providers. The money that you spend on such a DNA may be one of the best business investments that you’ll ever make.