It’s no secret that wholesale distributors are facing a number of pressures, thanks to a worsening economic climate. This is particularly true for small to medium business (SMB) distributors, who are likely to be hit hard by cash flow difficulties and slow-as-molasses product movement.
That’s why many SMB distributors are considering the acquisition of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to help improve their business processes, as well as their control over costs and resources.
Other benefits of ERP systems for the distribution sector include:
reduction in time and costs associated with warranty and returns processing
improved communication and coordination among cross-functional teams, including representatives from logistics, production, purchasing, finance, marketing, and research and development (R&D)
improved visibility into distribution capacity, inventory, and labor
reduction in delivery time and transportation costs through vehicle-routing analysis
However, SMB distributors are understandably reluctant to embark on an enterprise software deployment without some assurance that they can contain both the costs and the time frame of implementation. And in difficult economic times, they’re particularly concerned about the ability to be flexible about changing business requirements, on short notice.
Let’s face it: there’s no such thing as a simple ERP implementation. And unless you have deep expertise in enterprise-scale software implementations, you’re well advised to get some outside help.
We’ll look at ways you can squeeze value out of your ERP selection process by partnering with a value-added reseller (VAR) for the implementation process, and examine one VAR’s approach to delivering that value.
VARs and the ERP Community
First, what a VAR is not:
A VAR is not an independent software vendor (ISV)
. As the developer and vendor of an enterprise software application, an ISV is an expert when it comes to the technical functionality of that software application. That doesn’t mean the ISV is an expert in determining how your business processes ought to change in order to adapt to the new software.
A VAR is not a system integrator
. System integrators ensure that the technical pieces of multiple systems function cohesively. They are naturally invaluable in a troubleshooting role. However, they are not experts when it comes to thinking strategically on your behalf through all the implications of the changes your business will face in adopting an ERP system.
And a VAR is not a consulting service
. The experience and expertise of consultants can help you save time and resources during your software selection and implementation. Consultants can also guide you through the change management process of software implementation.
However, at certain points during implementation, you’ll also need to collaborate closely with a partner who is an expert in the technical aspects of the new software and sensitive to your strategic business needs.
So what is a VAR?
Enterprise software VARs add features, functionality, or modules to existing enterprise applications, and sell them as integrated systems. VARs can also provide value through such services as customization, integration, implementation, application or technical consulting, training, and support.