July 02, 2018
The choice that you make can have a profound impact on not just the results of you ERP adventure, but also of the physiological idealism of your employees and your fundamental attitude towards ERP and the software. Let’s face it, your ERP system is software. It works with people, for people, and the people that interact with the software are responsible for the outcome of the ERP experience. You need to choose good people to partner with and have good people in your organization to make it work. So, what we are really talking about is how do you choose good people to work with your team to ensure the basic software tool can be used to its best advantage?
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There is a plethora of choice in the marketplace for you. Epicor partners come in different flavours from Sales Partners, Solution Providers to Service Partners. A simple google search will turn up dozens of other providers of services from independent freelancers to large scale IT shops that provide anything from customizations to resource staffing. The list is endless.
Epicor Inspired Partner Network Overview
Epicor works hard to create a strong Partner Channel Network. They provide an abundance of knowledge and experience tailored to the Partners and delivered in a timely way. They foster a collaborative environment and are very careful in how they manage the different levels of partnership.
Sales Partners are supported in their efforts to sell software modules and licenses. They are provided with an abundance of training and marketing materials with a laser like focus on selling the end users the products that Epicor offers. Their primary goal is sales, and they work closely with the local Custom Account Managers to ensure they hit their marketing targets. You will see them prominently display their level of achievements in the sales arena by their level of partnership, Silver, Gold or Platinum. Here’s a few sample quotes from some of the more successful sales partners.
“The Epicor Partner Program Awards are designed to reward Epicor Channel Partner Program members who have demonstrated their ability to serve as an extension of Epicor’s own salesforce to help businesses worldwide grow and transform. There are several different categories across different geographies in which partners are awarded, ranging from Global Partner of the Year to specific recognitions such as Customer Advocacy and Marketing Excellence.”
“Epicor awards their Epicor Partner of the Year to recipients based on contributions to customers, revenue generated to Epicor as well as other considerations that showcased the partners’ abilities in transforming customers to position them to grow by leveraging Epicor solutions.”
“Our partners are an extension of our salesforce and we are fortunate to have an elite group of IT professionals aligned with us to support customers to focus on business growth, innovation, and enhanced customer experience.” Joe Cowan, president and chief executive officer, Epicor Software Corporation.
Solution Provider Partners are partners that have developed a unique software or hardware solution that Epicor feels meets a niche within their product offerings. If the solution meets a rigorous set of tests and fits into Epicor’s marketing strategies, the company that developed the solution is invited to join the Epicor group under the Epicor Alliance ISV program. Epicor will then use its considerable marketing clout to help market the solution into the Epcior user group and share in the rewards of the selling process. In this win-win scenario, new products get developed and become available to the entire Epcior community for the benefit of all.
Epicor Service Partners provide Epicor application consulting and implementation services to customers. They may provide services directly or as subcontractors to Epicor Professional services. They may work in conjunction with the Epicor direct sales team in specific opportunities as requested, but do not receive customer ownership. This partner category is not eligible for the Premium Tier status. So, you won’t see an Epicor Service Partner with Silver, Gold or Platinum designations. They simply work with the software and the customers to ensure the customer knows how to use the software in the best way possible. If you look at the Epicor Partner Directory at https://www.epicor.com/partners/partner-directory.aspx you will see the focus of the Epicor Partner Program. Noticeably missing is a partner of any type other than the Sales Partners. Unfortunately, this means that if you want to find a Services Partner (you know, the ones that have the sole focus of servicing the software and not selling it to you), you are going to have to find them on your own.
With hundreds of qualified participants worldwide, Epicor provides unequaled benefits by providing a network that offers their authorized partners expert knowledge and resources, cutting-edge software, professional certification and training programs, limitless support, customer experience opportunities, and ongoing consulting to make sure that each Epicor customer can rely on a highly skilled service provider. All levels of Epicor Partners can leverage the benefits that Epcior provides with regards to Knowledge, support, resources and training.
Certification and Training
Authorized partners are provided with knowledge and expertise directly through Epicor’s partner certification and ongoing training programs. Certification does require a level of commitment by the partner. The authorization to sell is not the same as the certification to consult or train. Just because the company you have contacted is an authorized Epicor partner doesn’t mean that the person in front of you has an Epicor certification. It doesn’t mean the certification they do have is in the area that you require help with and it doesn’t mean the certification is for the current version of the software that you are using.
Epicor provides consultants, who are working for authorized partners, the opportunity to train using the Consultant’s Roadmap. They can train in Finance, Distribution, Manufacturing and Tools. Each strand has a unique set of qualifications and associated tests that will result in a certification of Level 1, 2 or 3 depending on how hard and long the consultant trains. You must qualify on the current version of the software and then maintain your certification with continued education and qualifying by successfully passing the Delta exams. For example, if you first qualify and get certified in Epcior version 9.05.702A Financial, then you must maintain this certification by passing the Delta tests for all the subsequent release 10, 10.1, 10.2 and so forth. This means that the financial consultant in front of you is qualified to help you with any version of Epicor from 9.05.702A to 10.2 for the financial questions related to the areas covered under their level of certification 1, 2 or 3. Level certifications are additive, meaning you get 1, then 2, then 3 and anyone certified at level 3 is qualified for everything that comes below it. It does not mean this person is qualified for Level 2 Tools, or Level 1 Manufacturing and Distribution.
One thing of significance that is lacking from the Epicor training curriculum is certification training on how to teach. Adult education, alternative learning styles and English as a second language are all relevant topics and struggles for anyone in business today. While it’s good to know that the consultants and partners you are working with have knowledge and experience, how do you know they can deliver this knowledge and experience to your diverse workforce?
Epicor is working hard to ensure that customers are more aware of the significance of the Certification Training and will be releasing a new certification badge that qualified consultants will be allowed to include in the e-mail signature files. This will help bring awareness to the program. As an Epicor user this should help you to recognize the good people you are struggling to find.
Authorized partners also have access to the latest software solutions and specific applications that ensure ground-breaking technologies are being used to streamline the manufacturing, distribution, retail, and other services that drive efficiency throughout your business. Without an authorized partnership, Freelancers are limited to the versions of software they have chosen to invest in.
Authorized partners of Epicor are connected with recognized Microsoft® technology experts and provide each partner with a support structure capable of building world-class enterprise and e- business applications. With access to robust, scalable, and distributable Web-based applications, Epicor authorized partners enable their customers to quickly realize a competitive advantage and experience a smooth and speedy implementation.
Authorized partners have access through the Epcior support portal to download any version of the Epicor software.
They have knowledge and relationships directly with the various Epicor teams to streamline support issues and go directly to the best points of contact within Epicor. This guarantees that that any questions or problems will be resolved and answered.
Epicor partners can also see your company support tickets if you allow it. With this level of visualization into your organization, Epicor partners can quickly see issues and recognize patterns to help pinpoint problem areas and provide faster, more accurate support.
Should I hire a Freelancer?
Non-authorized entities and freelancers cannot access the Epicor support portal, except though your account or that of another Epicor customer. This is not the same level of access as an authorized partner. If they are using another company’s account, because you are off active maintenance, for example, then they are violating the other customer’s license agreement.
Worse yet, they may be using your active maintenance agreement to maintain some other customer that is not on active maintenance, thus putting your maintenance agreement with Epicor in jeopardy. You pay maintenance for a reason and why should you be allowing your freelancer to support another off-maintenance client? All this does is force the cost of maintenance up for everyone.
With an authorized Epicor partner, you will have the confidence of knowing that Epicor is on your side from start to finish. Authorized partners come equipped with all the tools and resources necessary to ensure the success of your ERP implementation, upgrade, customization, report or business re-engineering.
Freelancers and non-authorized entities are working with a restricted set of tools. This frequently results in decisions that are not beneficial to you the client. I’ve seen far too many “upgrades” that turn into costly re-implementations because the freelancer has convinced the client that the upgrade is not the way to go. Not because this is the sound business choice, but because the freelancer doesn’t have the tools at his or her disposal to successfully upgrade the database.
Epicor has extensive skill and custom developed tools for upgrading. They have developed an inexpensive upgrade offering that provides for 3 upgrade passes to your database to ensure you can move from any previous version of the ERP software to the current version. Epicor fundamentally wants your business to stay as current on the software as possible and they recognize they need to help you ensure that happens.
The arguments for re-implementation are numerous, but they mostly come down to a freelancer convincing you that you will have this great opportunity to start fresh and purge all those unwanted items from your Data. It’s a farce, unless your originally implementation was so bad that it’s not usable, the down side of starting over is much more costly than upgrading. Freelancers want you to re-implement because they know they can’t upgrade you because they don’t have the tools and access to Epicor’s upgrade services. They also make a lot more money from you. Keep in mind that in the re-implementation scenario, you still must keep all your old accounting transactions and you won’t be able to access the information for any rolling 12 or 24 style reports. You will be maintaining the old system for the next 7 years.
As they say, practice makes perfect. Your freelancer may have experience, but do they have enough experience in your field to understand your unique challenges? Epicor authorized partners come with substantial and qualified experience that provides them with the knowledge necessary to customize your ERP solution and implementation to your specific needs. The partner channel is also collaborative. The partners form alliances and reach out to each other to extend the support reach and leverage the expertise within other partner organizations.
Outside of the Epicor network freelancers are on their own, and their ability to gain experience with a variety of customers is limited to their abilities bring in new customers. Epicor’s Partner Channel network offers access to partners that are qualified, trained and experienced in Epicor ERP and all the supporting software. Epicor has built a support and training framework for these partners that guarantees excellence in service and support. You can rest assured that you and your ERP solution are in good hands. Don’t take a gamble, ask for a reference, ask them about their level and types of certifications. Any consultant worth their salt won’t have any problems finding you someone that will vouch for them. With an Epicor authorized partner and certified consultant, the decision is easy.
Why Choose TeccWeb?
TeccWeb is a proud Epicor Authorized Service Partner and has been since 2014. TeccWeb prides itself on its certified consultants and their ability to successfully implement the Epicor ERP software. TeccWeb focuses on educating their customers to use the software that they have purchased and implemented as effectively as possible through our custom training program. TeccWeb employs an experienced certified teacher to oversee all training activities. As the Southwestern Ontario and GTA Regional Leader of the Epicor Users Group, TeccWeb is giving back to the Epicor community.