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Balal Ahmed
Director of Business Development & Partner Relations

Today, for a few good reasons, it’s very tempting to buy into the idea that modern business software will deliver a ready to go and fully optimised system out of the box. 

Of course, marketing has a large part to play in this. We live in a world that values instant gratification and any promotion of a particular solution is bound to focus on the end result, rather than any process required to achieve it.

Combine this with increasing consumer expectations around the accessibility of advanced technology, and on the face of it, the belief is understandable.

However, putting slick advertising and marketing messages to one side, there’s no getting away from the fact that business software is different. This isn’t the easy hit of a social media app or the instant functionality of a simple online tool.

The reality is that systems such as Unit4 Financials and FinancialForce are like a high-performance race car. They need to be properly set up and tuned by knowledgeable mechanics.

If we stick with this analogy, those business system mechanics take the form of accredited solution partners. And finding the right one is up there with the most crucial factors in whether your business is able to maximise the long-term effectiveness of its systems.

Installation, configuration, training and ongoing support is what decides whether your system will be revving freely or constantly hitting the limiter.

So, with the right systems partner for your business being so important, naturally the next question is how do you identify who that partner is?

We’d suggest three key areas of assessment require particular attention in order to do this:

Specialisation

On selection of your system, an immediate concern should be identifying that a partner genuinely specialises in your chosen software.

While many of the concepts around business and financial management may be universal, the huge range of software solutions available to support it means that system specialisation is essential.

Therefore, software specialism is essential alongside procedural knowledge and expertise.

For example, here at LEVEL8, Unit4 Financials (previously CODA) is a software package our business has grown alongside, thanks largely to our specialisation in the system.

From both a consultancy and a software development perspective, the business was started by system specialists and our teams have been built with a Unit4 Financials skill set at the core of our recruitment criteria.

This specialisation is a key factor in why clients select us to support them and their Unit4 Financials system.

Experience

This is very closely intertwined with the idea of specialisation as it relates back to the point previously made about needing both systems and procedural knowledge.

However, on both counts here we’re talking about whether a partner has got enough of it – the specialist skills are there but what’s the depth of experience when to comes to real world application of them?

Can this experience be demonstrated in terms of both time on the job, qualifications and referenceable work?

The partner who can demonstrate adequate experience will boast people who have been there, done it and got the branded t-shirt when it comes your chosen system and the challenges your business is looking to overcome.

It’s why we shout about the combined 300 years of Unit4 Financials experience held within our incredible team. Whatever your requirement or issue, we’ve probably seen it before.

Reputation

Finally, and at least partly a result of strength in the first two areas of assessment, is the issue of reputation. How can you really know what kind of systems partner you’re engaging with and what to expect from their work?

Well, a great and increasingly accessible way to do this is to find out what businesses and professionals like you are saying about them. Listen to those who have worked with the partner previously.

Seek out reviews, testimonials and recommendations. And make sure they’re impartial, referenceable and verified wherever they appear.

These will shed light on the obvious project measurables and also deal with an important wildcard – the human factor. There really is no better way of answering questions around whether you are likely to get on with that partner, its people and their ways of working.

This importance of reputation is why we take referenceable clients and testimonials so seriously. And it’s also why we jumped at the chance to get involved with Raven Intel when Unit4 partnered with them last year as their preferred partner review platform.

As well as Raven Intel making partner profiles like ours freely available, the leading online reviews platform for enterprise software is publishing a dedicated Unit4 partner report later this month. Keep your eyes peeled for this or register to receive it on publication here.

We’re looking forward to getting our copy!

In the meantime, check out our testimonials and client pages on the LEVEL8 website for even more insight on how we can tune your system to perfection. And if you just want to chat through your requirements and options then do just give us a shout.