Systems integrators: When being small has big advantages

25 Oct 2022 by Andrew Spicer

It used to be said that no one ever got fired for hiring a global consulting firm to manage an IT project.

A handful of large systems integrators have built large global businesses advising on and managing IT projects, including enterprise resource management systems from the likes of SAP, Oracle and Microsoft.

They are all active in the New Zealand and Australian markets working with large corporate and government clients. Their reputation, size and breadth of capabilities means that the old saying about them is as valid as ever - a big consultancy is still considered a safe bet. Indeed, they do excellent work, and we have partnered with some of them on major projects.

But lately, Realtech has picked up a number of service and support contracts with customers who are switching to us from large systems integrators. I’ve noticed a pattern in how this process plays out.

Good service beyond go-live

A large system integrator will be selected to manage an SAP project, say a migration from ERP Central Component (ECC) to S/4HANA, SAP’s ERP for large enterprises. The large systems integrators have the size and consultant resources, and extensive experience in these types of projects, so the implementation is typically managed efficiently, and a good outcome is achieved for the ‘go-live’ phase.

But the quality of service and attention to detail sometimes starts to drop off as the systems integrator shifts to playing an ongoing support role. The crack A-team, co-opted to guide the customer through the SAP implementation, departs for the next big project. A new set of consultants and support staff takes their place. Often, they are less experienced and, in many cases, based offshore, with aspects of the support process being automated, reducing the human touch in support, support timescale and ongoing service.

This is a facet of the business model of large consultancies that employ tens of thousands of staff around the world and therefore need to juggle their resources to meet global demand.

Invested in success

But that’s the point at which customers typically start becoming frustrated with the large systems integrators. The quality of service delivered no longer matches up to the gold-plated name printed on the monthly invoice.

As a boutique SAP consultancy, Realtech has no B-team. Our experienced consultants who work on implementation projects don’t disappear, never to be heard from again. Every single person in the business is invested in the success of our clients on an ongoing basis and in building lasting reliable relationships.

We have a laser focus on delivering quality service. There are three ways we achieve that:

We hire the best people: I’ve said before that my mantra is to hire the “right person, not the right now person”. We take our time with new hires, a luxury not always available to the big systems integrators who may need to bring on board 25-50 people at short notice for a project. As a result, we have a small but crack team of SAP consultants who each have at least ten years of experience within their respective SAP area of expertise and who are motivated to take ownership of the relationship with customers.

We are proactive: Many service contracts with large system integrators are just about keeping the lights on, making sure that the system that was delivered continues to function as promised. We go further, proactively looking for ways to improve performance, provide recommendations for improvements, save resources and make our customers’ lives easier.

We are accessible: Our consultants forge meaningful and long-term relationships with our clients. They offer a personal touch. Any customer can pick up the phone and call me anytime for a chat or raise an issue. I’m regularly travelling to meet with customers to understand better their business priorities and how we can help.

The large systems integrators will continue to play an important role in New Zealand’s and Australia’s IT landscape. They have the ability to look globally and apply innovative solutions to local problems. Realtech looks forward to continuing our excellent partnerships with key global systems integrators and supporting more projects through to success.

But equally, there’s an important place for smaller players like Realtech, which not only has deep SAP implementation experience but a track record of delivering quality service and support long-term.

That’s what keeps our customers coming back for more and is seeing more new customers knocking on our door every day.

For over 22 years, Realtech has been helping New Zealand organisations get the most from SAP. Talk to our experts to find out how we can assist with your business transformation, service and support needs.