Integrate your ERP with E-Commerce: How to select the best integration partner?
You have oriented yourself in various ways on a webshop integration with your ERP system. The organisation’s needs are clear, the selection criteria are formulated, and there is a shortlist of suitable solutions. But other factors come into play when making “the best choice”, such as selecting a partner. How do you recognize a good match? And how do you know for sure that a partner understands your business and is more likely to get things done?
The decision with which partner to start a collaboration is one for the long term. That is why you want to make a well-considered choice in collaboration with the most important stakeholders (such as management). By involving them in the selection process, you make them aware of the usefulness and necessity of a webshop integration. You also show them the impact this has on the organisation.
The number of partners you invite for an introduction does not guarantee the quality of your decision. So do not make it too complicated. Keep the selection procedure simple, limit your shortlist and prepare a clear briefing for the partners you invite to the meeting.
10 questions to help you make a good match
You want to spend your time as efficiently as possible during the introductory meeting. The more information you provide in advance about your wishes and requirements concerning the webshop integration, the better the partner can respond to this. And the better the questions you ask, the more answers the introduction will yield. You can ask yourself the following ten questions during your selection process.
1. From which supplier does the “standard” best meet your requirements?
Many suppliers have a “standard” solution to integrate your ERP system with your webshop. The question is, what is included in the standard? And what not? The latter, in particular, is important to have insight into to determine to what extent the standard meets your wishes. In many cases, companies strive for a turnkey solution because adjustments and customization increase the risk of a longer implementation time. And with that, the risk of a budget overrun. Therefore, talk to your potential partner in advance, and check to what extent the standard solution matches your wishes and requirements.
2. Is there a demo available?
Can the partner show a working demo that is tailored to your organisation? That is a good sign. Sometimes software partners build an integration for their customers once and then try to sell it as a standard solution. A specialist partner has a standard solution that can be adapted to your situation, also in the demo.
3. Does the partner have specialized knowledge?
The software partner must know both your ERP system and your commerce solution so that the integration between both systems takes place properly. So, ask whether the intended partners have worked with the packages before and whether references are available.
4. How many integrations have the partner done?
How much experience does a partner have with the coupling you need? Can the partner share experiences of comparable organisations? In general, the more implementations the partner has done, the easier it will be for you to implement.
5. Do you understand our business?
Do you speak the same language? To what extent does the partner understand your business? Do they know what specific opportunities, threats, and challenges are there at companies like yours? Knowledge of the business can influence the quality of the solution because there is a chance that the partner can advise you more precisely.
6. What options are there regarding training?
How do you familiarize your employees with the possibilities of your new integration? To what extent can employees make (simple) adjustments to the system, and what knowledge is required for this? Ask your potential partner to what extent they play a role in involving and/or training colleagues. They may provide training for this or know a party that does this. In both cases, you want to know whether this is part of the support or additional costs will be charged.
7. What is the working method regarding the implementation?
Your webshop is open 24 hours a day. For the integration, changes need to be made in both your ERP system and your commerce platform. However, you want your customers to experience as little inconvenience as possible. What is the partner’s view on this? Is there an implementation plan that spares both the webshop and the ERP system (during peak times) as much as possible? How efficiently can the implementation take place? Finally, make sure that you can still add historical data after the implementation so that relevant data from before the implementation is preserved.
8. How are service and support arranged?
An integration between your webshop and ERP system is not a static solution. Even if the connection is established and the data exchange is satisfactory, changes can take place in the form of updates. For example, an update of your ERP system or your webshop.
How does the partner deal with this? To what extent will there be a seamless integration even after the update, and should adjustments arise from this: who are these for? The support costs after implementation play an important role in your cost price calculations.
Support in the event of malfunctions is equally important. If your link ends just before the holidays, how quickly will the problem be resolved? Can you also reach your partner’s helpdesk during the weekend? Support outside office hours can be charged, and it is nice if you know this in time.
9. What is the reputation, and are there references?
How well is the partner known in the market? Do they have references that you can contact to ask how this party experienced the cooperation? If the partner is sure of their business, they will bring you?
10. Is there a cultural fit?
The cultural fit is often overlooked in the selection process, while it is just as important for successful collaboration as the other factors. You prefer to look for a partner with whom you can work together as an extension of your organisation. Whether there is a cultural fit cannot be determined with one question. It is often based on a sum of factors that may or may not trigger a “click”. Questions that could contribute to this are:
- How does the organisation itself describe its culture?
- Who are their best customers, and why?
- What kind of customers is less suited to their organisation?
Actively ask for feedback – and benefit from a wealth of information –
In addition to making the right choice, the selection process often also provides many new insights for your organisation. What view do the invited partners have of your desired solution? What opportunities do they see for your organisation to save, automate, or optimize costs? And what are the risks? Has it been discussed how you can limit these (together)? Actively ask for feedback, the partners have been chopping this hatchet more often and can indicate whether they see special features (or showstoppers).
Making up the balance
There are several suppliers of ERP integration, each with its qualities. To make a proper assessment, it is best to determine the criteria before contacting your potential partner(s).
Once you have met a party, exchange contact details and ask the partner to make a proposal that suits your organisation, then be honest with the other invitees about the process and your choice. Share your doubts, they may not be justified, and the other person can take away your insecurities.
More about the selection of an ERP commerce connector?
Head over to our e-commerce connectors for more information about our solutions. Whether you are looking for a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central integration with Magento, Shopify, CloudSuite, WooCommerce, Amazon, or your PIM system, these blog articles will help you go through the selection process efficiently and effectively so that you make the best choice for your company.
Article 1: Why should you integrate your webshop with Microsoft Dynamics 365?
Article 2: The ROI of an integrated ERP e-commerce connector
Article 3: Finding the right webshop integration for Business Central: The four most important questions to ask
Article 4: How do you select the right ERP e-commerce connector?
Or contact us for more information.