By PJ Bishop, Vice-President: Services, Sage Africa and Middle East

No software vendor can be all things to all people. For that very reason, leading finance, human resources, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors work closely with tech partners to enrich the value of their platforms. This approach allows the vendor to concentrate on what it does best: helping SMBs grow with a robust core system that gives them the visibility, flexibility, and efficiency to manage finances, operations, and people.

Their tech partners, meanwhile, focus on supporting SMBs to meet their additional requirements with add-ons or modules that extend the functionality of the core software or provide features not available in the standard software suite or application. This is a smart approach because no large vendor has the expertise to develop niche, custom features for businesses of every type and in every industry.

Easier to access rich functionality

A robust business software will have a vibrant tech partner ecosystem, enabling you to tap into solutions that address the needs of your specific industry or business. This will enable you to reap an even better return on investment from your software. When you’re spoiled for choice, the challenge is choosing the right tech partner solution to address your need.

Here are some questions to consider as you evaluate a tech partner solution for your software.

What business problem do you need to solve?

The starting point for choosing a tech partner is to evaluate the problem you need to solve. Is it automating repetitive, low value activities not covered by the core software? Empowering your team with powerful analytic capabilities/AI and machine learning? Or addressing an industry need, such as point of sale in retail or warehouse management in distribution? The more specific you can be, the better.

Consult with end-users to understand the business case and draw up a problem statement. Next, you can consult with your core vendor and your implementation partner or reseller to determine whether you need an add-on solution. Could some configuration changes to the core software meet your needs? If not, your vendor or reseller can point you to a list of tech partners that can help.

What are the tech partner’s credentials?

Having identified a list of vendors that can address your business requirement, you will want to evaluate their track record in championing the needs of SMBs with their software. One great question to ask is who their customers are – a list of happy reference customers is a good sign. It’s worth checking on their history and expertise in your industry or business requirement. Also, ask about:

Is the solution certified by your core software vendor? 

There are many tech partner solutions out there, but not all of them are officially certified by your core vendor. You will want to choose an offering that has gone through your core vendor’s rigorous certification process. This will offer you the assurance that the tech partner software will interoperate seamlessly with your core business software.

What level of local support is available?

 Choosing a tech partner solution is often as simple as selecting an add-on from the vendor’s marketplace with today’s cloud business solutions. However, depending on the complexity of the software and the level of configuration or customisation you require, you may need expert help. It’s worth establishing how good the online and telephonic support is, and; perhaps even if there is a local reseller with hands-on experience with the tech partner product.

What is the roadmap for the product?

Your core software vendor’s product and your business are constantly evolving. You will want to know how the tech partner plans to evolve its product. Ask for a roadmap to ensure that the tech partner solution will have longevity. In particular, it’s important to know that the tech partner will keep up to speed with your vendor’s latest version releases and any tax and labour compliance changes.

About Sage

Sage exists to knock down barriers so everyone can thrive, starting with the millions of Small and Mid Sized Businesses served by us, our partners and accountants. Customers trust our finance, HR and payroll software to make work and money flow. By digitising business processes and relationships with customers, suppliers, employees, banks and governments, our digital network connects SMBs, removing friction and delivering insights. Knocking down barriers also means we use our time, technology and experience to tackle digital inequality, economic inequality and the climate crisis.

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