Chapter 1 – Cliff diving with your Systems integrator
Far too many of our clients embark on their digital transformation journeys with systems integrators that aren’t good fits or don’t have their best interests in mind. Quite often they wait too long until they make a change or until they realize that something needs to change.
Another phenomenon we often see with systems integrators is a lot of clients and customers don’t realize that they have options and that they don’t have to be stuck with the systems integrator they’ve hired. The minute that they realize that there are risks or challenges, it’s important to nip those early on and make adjustments along the way.
We delve into some of the unhealthy dynamics we commonly see between organizations that are implementing digital transformation and the systems integrators that represent the more popular software or ERP vendors. In this series, we discuss how to manage that relationship, what to do if that relationship does not go well and how to make adjustments by choosing the right system integrator.
The primary challenge with systems integrators and their customers begins early in the sales cycle. Once the contract is signed, they have agreed on a statement of work. They know the technologies that are going to be deployed and soon the systems integrator will nudge the client into implementation early earlier than they should be starting. As soon as the contract is signed, the system integrator wants to bring their army of consultants on-site immediately. The reason they want to do this is that, first of all, they start generating revenue right away through the services; second of all, they make money typically off you, by going live on new software so they have a two-fold incentive to rush you into implementation right away. This common phenomenon is known as “cliff diving”, the customer is at the edge of a cliff and the systems integrator, and the vendor often is trying to push you into implementation prematurely.
The reason why this dynamic is so dangerous is that the meter is running right away on day one whether you’re ready or not, irrespective of whether decisions are made, whether a clear vision and blueprint are in place. The customer is going to start paying by the hour immediately and a lot of times you don’t have transparency into what the system integrator is doing. There’s a whole host of consultants there doing something, that more than often you have no visibility to what it is that they’re doing. You have no way to rationalize whether or not that sort of time and money should be spent early in the project but even later in the project when their presence is more justified.
The system integrator takes advantage of the fact that the customer is ready to go and excited about this transformation, your team is excited about the opportunity for new technology, and they capitalize on the general sentiment by staffing your project aggressively and quickly. The major problem with the digital transformation industry, in general, is that software vendors tend to push and be biased toward certain system integrators. Generally, those are the system integrators or implementation partners that have the best chance of selling software.
They don’t necessarily consider whether or not the system integrator is the right fit for you. The vendor will usually promote one certain system integrator that they believe is going to be the best fit for you based on criteria other than your success. The most important thing you have to think and be aware of is that the system integrator that is recommended by the vendor may or may not be the best option and is certainly not the only option you have as an organization.
And so, one of the recommendations we can make is when you’re looking at a certain technology and you’re about to deploy it, make sure you look at your options, even if the vendor suggests a certain Systems Integrator is the best one for your organization; it’s important to really rationalize that or validate that by looking at other types of organizations out there that could help you and this is especially true if you’re being recommended one of the big consultancies, and large market players like the Big 5’s.
We will continue to discuss this topic in greater detail in the next part of this series. Stay tuned to Chapter 2.