Customer Reviews of Enterprise Software Projects in Q1 with Bonnie Tinder of Raven Intelligence
Are you struggling to find the perfect systems integrator or enterprise software partner for your business? Look no further! Join us as we chat with Bonnie Tinder, founder and CEO of Raven Intelligence! Raven Intelligence is a peer review site dedicated to helping decision-makers select the best partners for their software projects. Bonnie offers her expert insights on customer reviews, the importance of vetting potential partners, and how to choose the right fit for your enterprise.
In our conversation, we dive into the data and explore how customer reviews in Q1 can be leading indicators for future budgeting. Bonnie also discusses the impact that system integrators can have on software companies and how a great experience can bring positive results. We then turn our attention to the crucial process of choosing a software implementation partner, discussing key questions to ask and how to navigate situations where a vendor has a preferred partner.
Finally, Bonnie shares how Raven Intelligence can help you make an informed decision when selecting the right partner for your needs. Learn how to ask pointed questions and use customer feedback to back up your partner’s claims. Discover the importance of doing your homework, trusting and verifying, and finding a partner with matching experience. Don’t miss this enlightening conversation with Bonnie from Raven Intelligence as we explore the world of software reviews and integrators.
Listening Time: 28 minutes
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Customer Reviews of Enterprise Software Projects in Q1 with Bonnie Tinder of Raven Intelligence
William Tincup: [00:00:00] This is William Tincup and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today we have Bonnie on from Raven Intelligence and our topic today. Our subject today is customer reviews of enterprise software projects in q1. Bonnie, would you introduce yourself and Raven Intelligence?
Bonnie Tinder: Absolutely, and thanks for having me.
Sure. I am the founder and CEO of Raven Intelligence. We are a peer review site, so very similar to Yelp or [00:01:00] Glassdoor, but what we look at is enterprise software projects. And our mission in life is to help decision makers who are about to go through a software purchase. Select the best.
Systems integrator or partner to help them on their journey. And they can do so using a very modern way of making a decision by looking at reviews from other customers on raven intel.com. So we again, we collect information from the actual project teams on an implementation for these software projects.
And we get their real feedback so that it. Helps others make a good decision in the future.
William Tincup: You know what I love about this, and you and I have talked about this in the past, in 2012 2011, I built a software rating site. So not too far from G2 or software advice or Capterra.
There’s a [00:02:00] bunch of ’em that are really good and but just for HR and recruiting software. Got about a month from launch. And then realize that for the last 20 years I’ve been making all my money from vendors. And and I thought it, it was great, it was gonna be great for practitioners, but horrible because I would, I’d be fracturing relationships that I’d had for years.
And so I pulled the launch a month from and it had the brand vendor. Terrific. It was a great brand. It looked gorgeous. But the idea of what you’ve done with Raven Intelligence is that next level. So if they found there’s numbers of ways that they can find great software with their peers, rating sites just there’s conferences.
There’s just like thousand different ways to find great software if they’re solving for whatever it is, core hr, whatever it is. With the system integrators and for the audience, this is actually something that I had to learn about because I studied implementations and user adoption, but more from the practitioner point of view [00:03:00] and not necessarily from the partner.
If it’s Deloitte helping you implement Workday or whatever it they’re also those folks that do that work. Kinda the heavy lift with technology and data and things like that. Setting up your processes, working with you. There’s a whole massive array of system integrators and I think that’s, so what I love about what you’ve created with Raven, what you’ve been doing is that this is a wayfinding system for folks to then find that perfect system integrator for them.
Because you can see the reviews, you can see things and see where, the one system integrator is great for another person, might not be great for you, but you could see that. And this is kinda yelp for system integrators and enterprise software. So I love what you’ve built.
Let’s, you’re sitting on a bunch of cool data with reviews and what did you see when you look back at q1? What were some of the themes that you could pull out?
Bonnie Tinder: Just as a, context, we looked and [00:04:00] evaluated 103 enterprise software implementations and the information that we collect and the data I’m about to share is.
Is actually directly from clients. And I think that’s what makes us a little bit unique in that we are, the information that we have is very unbiased and it comes from the lens of the actual, project team at a customer. So we evaluated the reviews that were written by our clients and.
Some of the things that stood out to me in q1 is, one of the questions we ask is, how likely are you to buy more software from your vendor as a result of this implementation? And in quarters past we’ve had a, that number is probably between 50 and 75% of clients said that they were likely with a, a need in the future to buy [00:05:00] more software from their vendor.
In Q1 2023, we saw for the first time that number decrease and 28%. Of the customers said that they would not purchase more software or, would shop around, but I think what that really. Indicates to me, I think this is a leading indicator of, what do budgets look like in the future?
How likely are customers to buy more software this year? I think that’s a big shift than what we’ve seen in the past. The other markers that we see on projects or that we’re evaluating our. Overall satisfaction. And that, I think, remained pretty steady in in q1.
We’re looking at about, an eight out of 10, about half of the projects are on time, about 60% on budget with 60% of the projects saying that they had one or more change orders. All of those [00:06:00] metrics, I think are. Directionally similar to what we’ve seen in previous quarters, but the again the one about more software purchase was a market difference than previous.
William Tincup: So have you run into the instance? So I love, first of all, I love the fact that system integrators can impact the software companies in a really positive way if they have a great experience there. And probably, I would assume the opposite is also true. But have you ever run into where someone they love the integrator, but they don’t love the software.
Bonnie Tinder: Oh, absolutely. We do see that. We do see that. And a great partner will compensate for gaps on the software vendor side. On the flip side, a poor partner will no matter how good the software and the vendor is a poor relationship with a. With the vendor can I’m sorry, with the si can negatively impact satisfaction with [00:07:00] software.
So it goes both ways.
William Tincup: Wow. So where do we make mistakes with sis? So like for the practitioners that are listening to this, what questions should they be asking of both the software vendors that they’re interacting with, but also after, after you’re gonna suss that out, what are the questions that they should ask sis?
Bonnie Tinder: I think the biggest mistake that we see is for a customer to just blindly accept the recommendation from the software vendor on what partner to use. At the end of the day that. Partner and the implementation is going the customer, and needs to live with that day to day. And once.
A contract is signed, the software vendor goes away and lets the, the aside do the lifting as it relates to the implementation. And I, all of this to say is that you need to make sure that the partner that you’ve. Have [00:08:00] contracted, do the implementation is somebody who fits your business.
And the best way to understand that is again, to run an independent partner selection process, whereby you can always take the recommendation of your salesperson from the software vendor, but definitely you wanna do your own homework and vet partners. In independently. And I think that also gives you the best chance of getting the most competitive deal is when you are able to invite multiple partners into to bid on the work.
I the biggest reason that customers say that they chose their partner outside of it was the sophomore vendor who made the recommendation was the experience that they had with. Customers like them. And I think it’s really important that you ask questions of of your potential partner.
What other projects have you done that have [00:09:00] looked like ours? What, are you have, do you have experience in our industry? Do you have experience with a particular scope of work that we’re about to do? Vetting that is so critical and. Quite honestly, that’s where Raven can really help is that we have reviews by industry, by product type that will really help to substantiate or create credibility that an SI has the experience that they say that they do.
And you can read, what other customers have said. So I think that’s a big deal.
William Tincup: What if a software vendor has preferred partners? Yeah not say that they push, something on you, but let’s, let’s just say in a case where you’re buying a core hr, payroll, benefits management, et cetera, and they’ve got a partner.
They’ve got a partner, there’s other sis in their ecosystem, but they’ve got a partner. What’s, a what’s your take on that and what should the practitioner, how should they navigate those waters?[00:10:00]
Bonnie Tinder: So if I understand the question, so if the if the customer already has an existing relationship with that particular partner,
William Tincup: You could do that both ways, right?
So if you’re a practitioner and you really love Deloitte, I’m using Deloitte as an excuse. Sure. But cause everybody knows their name. Let’s say you’ve done a project with Deloitte in the past as a, with their hr team, and you just love ’em. You know that they get you. That’s one thing.
Should you go with somebody that you already know and have some camaraderie with or chemistry with? The question was about if the vendor, software vendor themselves has a partner that they are a premier partner or someone that they, not push, but basically. Does a majority of their implementations.
And integrations like years ago, this is dated, but years ago, downmarket, Workday had OneSource Virtual. Which is a great firm. And and so everything downmarket, I think 3000 employees. And again, really data information, but everything under [00:11:00] 3000 employees would go to them.
Yeah. Who wouldn’t go to other people who would literally just go to them. Now they’ve of course, changed all that, but like, How does, has how as a practitioner, how do you navigate that?
Bonnie Tinder: Yeah. I think that, some of the mature software vendors out there do have multiple partners that, have options.
Now in that mid tier market or mid-sized Company marketplace for Workday. There’s several options and I think it’s important, if the software vendor does recommend, let’s say OneSource Virtual, who is fantastic, we have many reviews. Who would that would that would.
Definitely back that up. You wanna trust but verify. And so I think it always makes sense to look at three and then make your choice from there. Certainly knowing that. If your software vendor, really recommends a [00:12:00] certain partner, that’s great. And certainly that, holds a lot of weight in your decision.
But also make sure that, again you’re getting competitive bids because at a minimum, you wanna keep your si honest.
William Tincup: So if you’re going after, I love great advice. Of course. Three, three bids, and you’re gonna have three different meetings. A coach. All three of those have been they know the software.
How do you make, how do you make the decision? Does it come down to chemistry or how do they make the decision outside of they’ve reviewed so they’ve let’s say that they’re educated buyers, which is leaps and bounds over what they were before Raven. So okay, so they’re educated.
They’ve already picked the software. Now they’re interviewing three different partners. What’s that process? If you could wave a wand, what’s that? What should be that process?
Bonnie Tinder: Yeah, I, I think cultural fit is a big one that, that you mentioned how does the team that an SI is putting in front [00:13:00] of you, how does that team feel?
From a just a dynamic perspective and, do you see that that team being able to integrate into your business and work well? At the end of the day, these projects are all about people and creating cohesion amongst the team to, to get a project complete.
So I think that’s a big deal and you can’t minimize the. The the cultural fit that you feel during the sales process. With that said, you wanna make sure that who you meet during the sales process is who you will be assigned during your project. And that’s one of the things that. It can really wreck havoc in these projects is if there’s churn on the team or you’re presented with one team during the sales process and all of a sudden you sign the contract and it’s the junior team that gets assigned and not the folks that you met.
During diligence. I, cultural fit, I think [00:14:00] is a big deal. But you wanna make sure that it’s the actu that you’re making the judgment based on the actual people who will be responsible for your implementation. So I think that’s a big one. Certainly I.
The discovery process that a partner goes through to understand your needs will make sure that the proposal that they’re putting in front of you is comprehensive enough and matches the scope of project that, that you have in front of you. So you wanna. Very closely look at, how many, how much are they trying to understand my business and the impact that we want this particular project to have.
And so you can look at, multiple pro proposals side by side. And some clients will say all things being equal, I’m gonna go with the ch, the cheapest one. That is, that, that is great if it’s an apples to apples comparison. But there’s a, there’s [00:15:00] reasons that there’s a great disparity between multiple projects and that is, some of the time the projects that come in with a higher.
Quote are ones that, factor in things like change management. They don’t shortchange things like integrations. All of those things that can be nickeled and dined on the cheap proposal. So you wanna make sure that the statement of work that you’re presented with is one that is comprehensive and matches what you’re looking to do.
William Tincup: I love that. Okay, so two-pronged question. One is references. So getting references again, let’s say you’re in the the mining industry and you’re implementing, oh, let’s just pick somebody ultimate Software or U K G. Yep. And and you’re in mining. Should they like the process of getting reference check stocks?
You mentioned at the beginning of like companies like industry, that type of work. How do they go about that?
Bonnie Tinder: I think, it is, it would, if you’re in the [00:16:00] mining industry, you wanna make sure that you are, that the use case or the case studies that you’re provided with have a, a similar sort of business or at least similar sort of employee population.
If it’s not mining, it should be one that sort of matches the dynamic and the geography of your team. So industry is a big one. Geography, as I just mentioned, is a big one. So if you have a global operation, and this is gonna be a global rollout, you’re gonna need references that are not a US-based company that has, a domestic footprint only, right?
So you wanna make sure it’s industry, geography. And then the third big one is size. Yeah. Yeah. And because, some of the again the larger projects have different dynamics than a small one. Not to say that there’s
William Tincup: There’s complexity everywhere.
Bonnie Tinder: That’s right. Yeah. There’s complexity everywhere.
But on the other hand, the vetting of, if you’re, 20,000 employee firm and you’re getting references[00:17:00] from a, firm that is, 500 employees. Again, that’s, that not, doesn’t necessarily give you enough to feel good and confident that the SI firm has the right experience, so to speak.
We, the, those are questions that we ask on every review. And so if you were to look out on Raven on a particular vendor, let’s say in this case the UK G selection, you’re gonna see how many mining implementations, have they done, or, what’s the typical type of work that this firm does?
And that will be a really good indicator of, do they have the capabilities and experience that they say they do during the sales process.
William Tincup: So this is because of, studied implementation years ago, and I used to tell people to meet the implementation team before they signed a software contract.
Yep. So this is, it is hard, and I understand how difficult this is, but the idea is, [00:18:00] okay, we’re about to sign a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal. I wanna know who’s working on the project, meet them before I actually signed my name to this. How do you see that Now that was just me being theoretical and stuff like that, but how do you see that playing out in real life?
Does that, is that even viable for most software firms?
Bonnie Tinder: So I have seen some clients that actually want named consultants put into the contract. Oh, wow. Okay. And depending on the size and the scope of the project, sometimes that’s the case. The one thing to note is that for.
The way that these sis run is that they have to keep their consultants active and engaged, and they want people sitting on the bench. So it’s great to, have somebody assigned, but you as the customer, have to be sensitive to timeframes as well. If you [00:19:00] have a contract and you’re sitting on it for multiple months and making a decision.
That person that you love might need to be reassigned to other accounts. It’s having some flexibility there or being able to make a decision so that they can immediately assign that person or that team to your account and not put them on other things. So
William Tincup: how do we, how does the practitioner vet or suss out who’s good at what?
Again, we’re gonna go after three, we’re gonna get proposals. Everyone’s on their best behavior, everyone looks great, dinners are fantastic, questions are answered to our, but at the end of the day, there’s people that are just great with process. There’s people that are great with, really they like specifically, they know the tech so well.
They’ve done so many implementations. They know they can make the Tech bend, they know it so well. There’s people that are really great with data. Historical data and, not great data and how to get, how to make that happen. I don’t [00:20:00] think there’s anybody, and I may be wrong at this, but I don’t think there’s anybody that’s great at all that stuff.
No. So how do they su, how does the practitioner suss out what makes sense to them? You know what I mean? Because they’ve got an internal team. I guess for practitioners that listening, especially in these large deals, you have your own internal team. They might not be doing this for a full time, but you have your own team.
That’s internal. It could be change management team, et cetera, but you’ve got your own team and then you’re hiring another team to take you through this process. Yeah, so you might have some internal skills that you’re really good at, like data. Or process your internal team really good at process, then, we just need new software.
Yep. So like how do they balance, how do they get to really understand, I wanna say it’s like superheroes, like what their super strength is, or like what they’re really good at. Like I wanna know what that is as a practitioner when I’m evaluating sis.
Bonnie Tinder: Yeah. So I would say that, in general, I. [00:21:00] All the partners have similarity in 80% of what they do, right?
They’re all gonna be able to check off, 80% of what you’re looking for in an R F P, but it is that extra 20% that they bring to the table. That sets them apart and again that’s their superpower is right. Makes them unique. So you want to. I think what’s important though, in order to un to understand isn’t that superpower relevant to me is right.
You need to know what it is that you are really looking for. What is most important to you? What is it that your team does not have the expertise in that you need to lean on another partner for? So is it staff org? Is it integrations? Is it things like change management. Whatever those, that priority list is, you wanna come up with.
I need somebody with superhuman strengths [00:22:00] in these three areas. And then that makes it a lot easier to find the 20% unit traits about the folks and, match what you need against with the unique traits that they have. And I would say, Asking the question during the sales process that is very pointed to say what makes you unique.
Why would you know, why do companies choose you over, the other options that are out there, and I think their answers should absolutely include. Stories that can back up whatever they’re talking about and actual customer feedback that will back up the unique things that they say about themselves.
And, but I think, asking the question, having them answer it very, clearly during the process will help you, understand what that is. And certainly if you vet them out through Raven, [00:23:00] we ask customers on every single one of these reviews, what were the lessons learned about this particular about this si.
And that’s also a, a big indicator of. What they’re bringing to the table that’s unique.
William Tincup: So two, two questions left. One is the budget, I’ve always gotten into this like how much should they set aside for implementation and sis in particular how do they figure out that math?
How do they know what okay, if, even if it’s a percentage we should say, you know what, how do they figure out what they should set aside for? Si. I’m sure it’s, I’m sure it’s a shock to pretty much most practitioners that haven’t done this. If you’ve done it, you obviously you’ve been through it, but those that haven’t been through it, I’m sure it’s a shock, complete shock to them.
So what’s your advice
Bonnie Tinder: there? Yeah back of the ma napkin. Math is that you look at what your annual software spend will be, and that at a [00:24:00] minimum your implementation will be 1.5 x of that amount. So as a, just as a a stat for you. 63% of the projects that we review, the customer has said that they came in right on time or ahead of schedule.
So that leaves close to 40% that were late. And I think we have 15% that are late by two x, right? So when things get late, they get really late. And. So all of that to say I’m sorry. So not only are they late, but they’re also on budget. So typically those things go hand in hand but 40% are not on, on budget by in 15% of those by two x or more.
So I would say plan on. You know what you’re [00:25:00] getting from the proposals and then pad that with at least a quarter on top of what you’re seeing there. For things that will come up during the sales per, or I’m sorry, during the implementation, again, we see 62% of projects that have change orders. So you wanna account for, there’s gonna be things that we didn’t.
Know, understand during the selection process that we changed our requirements midpoint, you wanna have some of that flexibility to, knowing that things are gonna change throughout the, the scope of a project. So again, take what you’re getting in terms of proposals and pad at least 1.2 another 25% on top of that.
And even if you wanna be on the safe side, you, what I would say is double it.
William Tincup: So partying advice to practitioners as they navigate [00:26:00] the, the wonderful world of sis and picking out great partners. What’s your best advice that you give them? Do
Bonnie Tinder: your homework, trust and verify.
And. The best predictor of the performance of a partner is gonna be what they’ve done in the past. So be, get very clear and be very confident in. The track record of a partner and a comfort level with the experience that they have that matches yours. That the idea of finding the right fit Is so important.
There could be great partners out there, but they’re not the right fit for you. So finding that, that sort of match between what are your needs and what are the, secret strengths or superhuman strengths of a partner. Having those two things come together [00:27:00] is gonna result in the best possible partnership.
William Tincup: Love it. All right. That’s it. Bonnie, thank you so much for carving out time for us and being on the podcast.
Bonnie Tinder: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
William Tincup: Awesome. And thanks for everyone listening. Until next time. I.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.