As is the case with procuring most software and technology products, when you’re investing in ERP software you’re often faced with the choice between buying through a reseller, or going directly to the vendor. Each approach has its own benefits and challenges and if it’s your first time investing in a big software project like ERP, it can be difficult to see the wood for the trees.
With this in mind, we thought we’d give you a little guidance on deciding the best approach for your business, when it comes to purchasing ERP software and the showdown between reseller and vendor.
Reseller or vendor: First steps
As with most software procurement exercises, there are two parts to the supplier selection process. Firstly, whether you know at this stage if you plan to buy from a reseller or direct from the vendor, there’s a pretty wide selection of different ERP software vendors out there. Just so you know what we’re talking about when we say “vendor” – these are the companies who made and continue to develop the software. At this stage, you’re specifically looking for companies that can provide the functionality you need to match the business needs you set out in your Statement of Requirements.
Secondly, unless you plan to do so yourself, you’ll then need to select a suitable implementation partner to help you to deploy that technology. And that leads us to our first point of differentiation: if you purchase through a reseller, you’ll often find that the implementation comes as part of a broad-reaching service offering. The respective vendor could offer implementation services too, but the scope will likely be limited to what immediately surrounds the product. Which approach is right for you really depends on the size and nature of your business, and what kind of resource you have in-house to implement, integrate and deploy the ERP software.
Now let’s dig into some more specifics.
Working with a reseller
A reseller is a third party business who package and sell the software from the vendor. Also commonly referred to as “value-added resellers” (VARs), as they often wrap a range of services with the software licensing, such as implementation, support and maintenance or general consultancy.
Let’s have a look at some of the advantages of engaging with a reseller.
An established relationship
A reseller, particularly if you pick the right one, is likely to have a highly established, if not “official” relationship with the software vendor in question. The best ones will have some sort of partner status or official reseller agreement. This often gives them access to preferential pricing and discounts which you would struggle to negotiate direct with the vendor.
Navigating a complex landscape
Enterprise-level software licensing can be a complex thing. Delve into this world alone, and you might just end up paying out for more than you need, or paying above the odds for a package which doesn’t meet your needs. Due to their established relationship and experience with the vendor, the reseller will be able to navigate the options for you and recommend the best one.
A little extra
As we mentioned above, engaging with a VAR means you’ll likely get access to their wrap-around services, which the vendor may not have the capacity or breadth to provide. This can include things like extended support, implementation, functional and technical consultancy, business process consultancy, training and roll-out support – to name but a few! Choosing a VAR means that you can get the software and all the services you need with just one relationship to manage and one PO to raise.
ERP vendors are big beasts
Most ERP software vendors are global operations. If you’ve ever had to phone up customer service of a large enterprise, you’ll know how difficult it can be to even get put through to the correct department, let alone actually have your problem solved. Resellers can be that interface into the vendor for you, leveraging their relationship and knowledge of the inner workings of the organisation to get answers to questions more quickly. An experienced reseller often won’t even need to engage with the vendor to solve common technical and functional challenges.
Which approach is right for you?
As we mentioned earlier in the post, whether it’s better to go directly to the ERP vendor or decide to engage with a reseller will depend on many factors including the nature of your business, the scope of the project and the budget. However, engaging with a VAR brings additional benefits that can save you valuable time and ultimately keep costs down overall.
Clear Business Outcome are an Epicor Authorised Partner, with a relationship spanning over 20 years. We can help you select the right package for your business and provide all the additional services to get you up and running. If you’d like to discuss an ERP project with us, get in touch.