What to Look For in an ERP Consultant for Your Business
Now that you’ve taken the smart step of accelerating your digital transformation with an ERP system, you may be asking yourself a big question: “Do I really want to do this by myself?”
The stakes are high. As a financial leader, you know that your company’s future productivity, agility, and even its survival depend on the successful outcome of your ERP project.
Given such a critical journey, an ERP consultant may prove to be a valuable support to you and your team. But being a prudent leader, you want to learn more about the pros and cons of working with such an expert.
We’ve worked with many ERP consultants and businesses over our 20 years as a fast-growing developer-integrator of ERP software. So we know the questions our customers and prospects most commonly ask about ERP consultants. We’ve responded to them below. We hope you’ll find the following insights and recommendations useful in your ERP journey.
For a detailed overview of what it takes to select the ERP solution right for you, download our guide, “Choosing Your ERP: The Essential Kit”.
Do I really need an ERP consultant?
You can answer this question in 60 seconds or less. Simply review the five statements below. If you answer “no” to two or more of them, a consultant would greatly improve your chances of successful ERP selection and implementation.
1. I know which specialized or generic ERP systems are available for my business.
2. I know what software my competitors are using.
3. My business processes and goals are clearly defined.
4. This is not my first ERP project: I’m familiar with the ERP selection process and I know the best practices.
5. One of my employees can manage this major project in addition to his or her daily tasks.
What is an ERP consultant?
The consultant may be a self-employed person, a consulting team with a variety of skill sets, or even someone linked to a government organization supporting technology and business growth.
What does an ERP consultant do?
Above all, the ERP consultant’s key objective is to guide you to the ERP solution that best fits your needs and goals. To fulfill this objective, they can do the following:
Inform you about the strengths and weaknesses of the ERP systems on the market as well as the incentives and methods of its various players.
Save you time and money. Their hard-earned knowledge and experience of ERP projects in a range of businesses can help you avoid common costly mistakes in selection and implementation.
Develop an overall plan, based on their battle-tested methodology, which identifies the steps and milestones of your business on its ERP journey.
Work with your team to analyze your business processes and develop a list of must-have and nice-to-have requirements for your ERP system. Ideally, with their experience in your industry sector, they’ll be able to surface requirements you may not have considered. Their expertise also enables them to challenge your assumptions and offer a perspective based on best practices.
Guide you during the final stages of the ERP selection process to ensure that as your team evaluates its shortlist of two or three vendors, it maintains its focus on the best fit with your list of requirements and needs.
Provide a neutral point-of-view (since they’re neither a customer nor an implementation partner) during the follow-up meetings on budgets, implementation, testing, and so on.
Define the data migration plan. Wherever your company data resides, your ERP consultant can review them and determine how best to clean them up and import them in a methodical and reliable way into your new ERP system.
Test the performance of your new ERP.
Are your ERP consultant’s interests aligned with yours?
Your ERP consultant needs to have your best interests at heart. Some consultants have ties to integrators selling one or more ERP solutions. As a result, their commissions depend on selling you licenses to those systems and the hours needed to implement them: that interest can undermine the credibility of their recommendations.
Does your consultant understand the challenges of SMEs?
A small or medium-sized business is not of the same species as a global or national enterprise. So SMEs need consultants who understand their needs and dynamics. While large enterprises require a whole team of ERP consultants to respond to their complex and diverse needs (e.g., system selection, implementation, data conversion, testing, and so on), an SME’s challenges are more modest but just as critical and can be met in a relatively shorter period of time.
Are there any disadvantages to working with an ERP consultant?
As in any hiring process, you may select an inappropriate candidate to work with. Interview several candidates. Ask them and their references probing questions.
Of course, your consultant won’t be working for free. Your investment may range from CA $20,000 to CA $30,000, depending on the scope of your project.
Where do I find an ERP consultant?
ERP software is being used ever more widely in many different industries. Ask for referrals among your customers and vendors as well as in your professional and social network. Search engines and government agencies can also provide abundant options to consider.
What qualifications should my ERP consultant have?
Do they understand the challenges and needs of SMEs? What is the depth of this knowledge?
Does this candidate know your industry? What’s their track record with businesses like yours?
How well do they know the ERP software market?
What roadmap do they have for the different stages of the ERP selection and implementation process? Is it a one-size-fits-all template, or do they understand the need for flexibility and customization?
How are they compensated? Are they tied to resellers?
Clarify what their level of support will be during the various stages of the ERP selection and implementation process.
Your consultant will collaborate closely with many people on your team over several months. Assuming the consultant has all the necessary technical skills, they also need to share your values about work and the way you want your people to be treated.
Regular communication, questions, unexpected constraints and issues will all be a standard part of your ERP project. How accessible and responsive will your consultant be?
Explaining new concepts and training new ways of doing them are key parts of the job. Ensure that your consultant can carry out these tasks skillfully.
While significant aspects of your consultant’s involvement can be carried out remotely, at some points they will have to visit your premises. If the consultant lives hours away, these visits can become an undue burden on both you and them.
The successful selection and implementation of an ERP system can be a giant step forward for securing the sustainability and agility of your business.
Given the stakes, it’s important that you feel comfortable as you start out on your ERP journey. So if you have ERP-related questions, feel free to reach out to us. We’d be happy to help!
To learn more about the ERP system selection process from a consultant’s point of view, click on our post, “How to Choose Your ERP Software: The Advice of a Consultant”.