The Right Questions to Ask a Systems Integrator in Technology Implementations

July 12, 2018

by Patrick Haley, Director of Marketing, BCS ProSoft, Deltek Partner

In recognition of our partners, July is Deltek Partner month! To follow the conversation on social media use #DeltekPartnerMonth

The Right Fit, Critical to Success

The purchase, implementation or upgrade of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Professional Services Automation (PSA), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), or Time and Expense solution require a web of logistics, to put it mildly. You may be working with several different vendors, that require tight coordination to ensure your project proceeds steadily onward.

Technology providers for these types of solutions usually offer their own system integration services or work with vetted and trusted system integrator (SI) partners, also referred to as Value-Added Resellers (VARs). Systems integrators are generally selected by customers to help evaluate or lead projects due to a particular area of specialization such as business process reengineering, governance, compliance, mergers and acquisitions and so forth. Determining which SI best fits your organization’s needs can be critical to the success of the project.

What an SI Delivers

An SI serves in both advisory and delivery roles. Depending on your organization’s size, in-house expertise and other needs, an SI can advise you on strategic technology planning, perform custom application development, provide implementation services, and deliver system integration and/or support. A good SI will tailor its services around the size and needs of your organization and facilitate the coordination of all of the third-party actors, increasing the efficiency of the project. This can free up your team to work on mission-critical tasks, rather than coordinating work efforts and tracking timelines.

Beyond skills, an SI’s project and industry perspective is especially valuable in current professional services environments. With regulations changing, technologies constantly evolving, and customer demands driving a fast rate of change, you cannot be (nor should you have to be) an expert on every detail of your IT systems. That’s where your SI comes in; they can be the experts on best practices and regulatory compliance to ensure that you are set up for long-term success, not just short-term gain.

Asking the Right Questions

It’s tempting to think of an SI as providing a commodity in a sense; that any one has the same expertise and delivers their services in the same way.

Not so.

There are stark differences in processes, expertise and the service of the teams you consider. Here are some key questions to ask when evaluating SIs:

  • Do they think strategically about your project and ask a lot of questions? Having a proactive approach will help them catch potential challenges or obstacles early on – maybe before you even realize them – and solve them faster.
  • Does the SI team and your team have a mutual respect and collaborative approach? Don’t overlook the importance of a good cultural fit.
  • Does the SI look at your business holistically and understand how the project will impact other areas, even beyond the stated scope? Or do they have an “order taker” culture that gives you the sense they work from a template, no matter your circumstances?
  • Does the team only have tech backgrounds, or do they come from diverse areas like product development, performance engineering, or even accounting and finance? Expertise in the technology and application stacks you are using is essential. But expertise doesn’t just come from doing the same type of project over and over; it’s also dependent upon the team’s diversity and creativity. Diverse experiences will give them a deeper understanding of your entire business, its needs and objectives.
  • How has the SI handled challenges and surprises? If an SI team has experience with many types of technologies, they’re more likely to deliver out-of-the-box thinking and creative problem solving possibilities.
  • Is the team made up of employees or primarily contractors? Employees will provide long-term stability over the lifecycle of your partnership with the SI. Contractors will come and go throughout the project, and any knowledge they have about you walks out the door when they do.

Finding the Right Partner

You put a huge effort into choosing the right technology for your organization and an equal effort is required to find the right integration partner to bring it to fruition. With an understanding of what an SI does and by asking the right questions, you can uncover the differences among potential partners and chose the one that best fits your goals and culture.

Learn about the SIs that partner with Deltek. Deltek has several dozen SIs they work, so you can choose one that best fits the skillsets and cultural compatibility you need.

About the Author

Patrick Haley is Director of Marketing for BCS ProSoft, a Deltek partner that provides consulting and integration services for Deltek solutions including ERP, CRM, Talent, and Project Information Management. Follow BCS ProSoft on Twitter at @bcsprosoft.