In the complex and complicated world of manufacturing ERP software selection, one of the dangers that often gets overlooked comes from buying software from a Channel Partner or Value Added Reseller (VAR) instead of purchasing from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). To be fair, not every VAR will fall into every category below, and some might skip out on them altogether, but these are the top potential pitfalls of dealing with a VAR and not the OEM when purchasing ERP software for your business.
1. The Sales Process. This is where things can potentially get really murky, really fast. Whenever you enter into contract negotiations with a VAR, you are actually entering into negotiations with the VAR, who then has to enter negotiations with the OEM, to see if they can make the proposal they promised a reality. Ultimately, the OEM has to sign off on it for you to actually receive it, because they are the source of authority, power, and the last line of defense, approval, or rejection. To make matters worse, you are not guaranteed anything the VAR proposed, but are always forced to settle for what the OEM can give you. Keep a watchful eye when it comes to proposals and contracts to make sure that the proposal lines up with the final contract. Otherwise, you could end up without half the features and functionality you thought you purchased.
When you’re looking to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on manufacturing ERP software for your business, why start off with the floor salesman (VAR) who can promise you the moon and the stars, but can’t even deliver Toledo, when you can effectively walk right in to the managers office (OEM), speak directly with the final authority, and get exactly what you wanted?
2. The Implementation. Another potential danger of using a VAR is that since not all VARs are created equal, some will perform your implementation while others won’t. If the manufacturing ERP software vendor that you are talking with is not able to actually perform the implementation themselves, you are at a pretty significant disadvantage. Instead of having one set of business relationships to manage, you now have two. Instead of being familiar with your implementation team, you are forced to be acquainted with strangers. This can lead to a lot of misinformation through miscommunication errors from the VAR, to the OEM, and back to you. Since the implementation of the software is one of the most crucial steps in the entire ERP process, you don’t want to add any additional headaches to the equation. Rather, you want to streamline the implementation as much as possible – deal directly with the OEM and you will have a much smoother process.
3. The On-Going Support. Similar to the implementation issues, some VARs won’t be able to handle your support needs either. However, even if they are in charge of handling your support, would you really want them to be? OEMs are much larger than VARs, and will have resources more readily available to handle your support needs than a small VAR would. When your business is having a critical issue that needs resolving immediately, do you want to get told by your VAR that they can’t help you because their resources are tied up with other clients, or do you want to hear that you’ll get the help that you need right now. An OEM will be able to offer 24/7 support, while most VARs will not be able to. Make sure you find out who will be in charge of your on-going support before you hitch your company to a VAR that can’t deliver the immediacy of support that your business deserves.