Instead of being stuck with ERP vendors’ support options, using third-party support has become “an established option”, one consultancy believes.

According to a research note by Gartner, the third-party enterprise software support market is expected to triple in value to US$1.05bn by 2023 compared to that of 2019.

The firm had noted in 2020 that such support for enterprise resource planning software had become “an established option” for CIOs and sourcing, procurement and vendor management (SVPM) leaders to consider as a way to control costs while enabling digital business growth.

To find out more about the dynamics of this trend, DigiconAsia interviewed Andrew Seow, Regional GM, South-east Asia & Greater China, Rimini Street about third-party enterprise software support.

DigiconAsia: Besides the cost savings, what quantifiable business impact is gained from engaging third party ERP software support?

Andrew Seow (AS): On top of the average 75% total cost savings (including vendor annual maintenance fees) which can be used as reserves or to improve staff training/benefits or to pursue strategic business initiatives, using a third party vendor for support can help develop an enterprise and technical roadmap to meet the organization’s current strategic objectives and future technological requirements.

This helps an enterprise to navigate the turbulent waters of updates, upgrades and migrations, and to adopt a more business-driven roadmap that translates 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 for solutions online, and manually supporting customization services.

DigiconAsia: Can third party software support vendors offer a level of service matching that of the original software provider?

AS: 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, a high-quality, independent, third-party support vendor will assemble a team of experts and make that team available to meet client needs 24/7/365 anywhere in the world.

For critical, high-priority cases, a tenable third party support vendor must offer a world-wide team of experts around the clock for accelerated case resolution—even employing modern AI techniques for the purpose of accelerating problem troubleshooting and resolution.

Furthermore, a best-in-class, independent third-party support provider will likely assign a dedicated account manager to ensure client satisfaction and maximize the returns on investments of software assets. This includes coordinating all non-technical issues, providing expert guidance on developing and implementing system strategies, and helping to tailor support services to meet the unique needs of each client.

DigiconAsia: As they are not the creators of the ERP software, can such third parties manage all the enterprise software support requirements?

AS: An independent third party support team has to have the expertise and track record to 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, a third party support provider is contractually bound to have proven capabilities in supporting clients’ custom code, which software vendors typically will not handle.

DigiconAsia: When considering a suitable third party software support vendor, what should SVPM leaders look out for?

AS: A strategic leader should press ERP vendors about what innovation they are actually pitching to contribute to the existing tech stack. If that innovation is more focused on the Cloud, their ultimate goal is likely to get everybody to upgrade to the latest release.

Also, the ‘launching-off’ point from that level is to move into their specific software offerings. That is a high degree of lock in.

With sufficient research into choosing a third party support solution, SVPM customers no longer have to accept the paths of what the ERP vendor can provide next, what they are going to pay, what support they are getting, and when that support is going to end.

By moving to a suitable third party software support solution, they can take back control of what they decide to upgrade or deploy, and save a lot of money and gain more business flexibility in the process.

DigiconAsia thanks Andrew for his neutral insights.