Or are there alternative solutions offering equal if not superior flexibilities in terms of costs, turnaround time and quality of service?

According to research from Gartner, the market for third-party enterprise resource planning (ERP) software support is expected to grow from US$351m in 2019 to US$1.05bn by 2023.

According to Andrew Seow, Regional GM (Southeast Asia & Greater China), Rimini Street, one of the most significant characteristics of independent, third-party software support is the quality, responsiveness, and breadth of support delivered.

In contrast to vendor-supplied support — often characterized by support tickets, escalation procedures, and a high degree of variability in the experience and knowledge of the support personnel — a high-quality, independent, third-party support organization will assemble a team of experts and make that team available to meet client needs 24/7/365 anywhere in the world.

Seow tells DigiconAsia.net readers more about the flexibilities of getting out of ERP vendor lock-in …

DigiconAsia: Does good third-party enterprise software support really offer benefits that the original ERP manufacturer cannot provide?

Andrew Seow, Regional GM (Southeast Asia & Greater China), Rimini Street

Andrew Seow (AS): For critical, high-priority cases, a good third-party support vendor can offer a global team of experts to work around the clock with “follow-the-sun” handoffs for accelerated case resolution. Highly experienced engineers are assigned to each client and backed up with a team of subject matter experts, thereby elevating the quality of support. 

In the case of a best-in-class, independent, third-party support provider, more resources can be allocated economically compared to the original vendor: such as assigning an account manager whose job is to ensure client satisfaction and maximize the client’s return on software assets. The account manager coordinates all non-technical issues; provides expert guidance on developing and implementing system strategies; and helps tailor support services to meet the unique needs of a corporate client.

In terms of cost flexibilities, audited research show typical average savings of 75% of the total cost of support, including vendor annual maintenance fees.

DigiconAsia: What quantifiable business impact is gained — over and above the monetary benefits of using third party support?

AS: Independent third-party software support does not only reduce operating costs, but also helps develop the desired enterprise roadmap that is tailored to meet the organization’s strategic objectives, as well as meets unique future technical roadmap requirements. This includes navigating the complex landscape of constant updates, upgrades and migrations, and adopting a more business-driven process that translates an enterprise’s business strategy into technology initiatives for the long run. 

Moreover, third party enterprise software support also reduces the amount of time IT staff spend on self-support activities that can increase costs and drain resources, such as tracking support tickets, searching online for solutions, and manually supporting customizations — services that third-party support providers can provide. 

DigiconAsia: Are there limits to what third-party support vendors can service, compared to the original ERP vendor? How should various third-party independent support vendors be evaluated for good fit?

AS: Independent third-party support teams can provide a full range of services, including legal/tax/compliance updates, migration planning and execution, upgrade assessment and installation, and proactive recommendations for performance improvements.

Additionally, third-party ERP support vendors can support clients’ custom code, which original-software vendors typically will not do. 

When choosing among third party support providers, a strategic IT managers should press the candidates about what innovations the firms are actually putting into their services. If that innovation is more focused on the cloud, their ultimate goal is likely to get everybody to upgrade to the latest release — the launching off point from that level is to move into their cloud offering. That can be a high degree of lock in. 

The strategy in moving away from original support to third party support is to no longer have to accept the paths of what the original ERP vendor dictates. Enterprises can take back control of what they decide to upgrade or deploy, and save a lot of money and time in the process.