A businessman has to pay for ERP licenses, for infrastructure to host ERP and data, and for implementation of ERP which includes training of its personnel. Given all these expenses, would it be a good idea to add another cost to it by hiring an ERP consultant. Is there a business case for hiring ERP consultant? What would an ERP consultant do that ERP Implementer will not?
These are some of the very oft repeated questions that we hear. Yet, we are also hired by companies to select ERPs for them and to manage their implementations. So what value do ERP consultants add? Can a company do without them?
The biggest advantage that ERP consultants bring is “Independence”. ERP consultants do not have any partnership arrangements with ERP providers or implementers. They can evaluate ERP as an independent person with no Conflict of Interest. The primary focus of ERP consultant is what is best solution for the client. For example, we are currently evaluating SAP, Oracle, MS Business Central for one of our clients. As ERP consultants, the focus is on what software would meet the client’s needs within his budget constraints. ERP consultants are not focused in pushing any solution. Like we have mentioned earlier in our blog (https://mentorsunlocked.com/i-want-the-best-erp-in-market-for-my-company/) the best software for a client is not the most expensive one or the best technically built ERP or the one that comes from best stable, BUT one that meets a client’s needs with minimum customizations.
Choosing a product based on features
The companies are tempted to buy branded software or the most installed software or what they perceive is technically best product. The biggest risk here is buying an expensive feature rich product but with most of the features not being used. A good example of it would be buying any of the smart products like TVs or phones. An ERP consultant will document the needs and help the company choose a product that can meet with its current and future needs. Like we mentioned in our blog https://mentorsunlocked.com/5-steps-to-selecting-erp/ it is essential the requirements from the ERP are clearly documented and matched. Even then there could be situations where an organization may go for feature rich software. For example, with one of our client who is operating in a sun rise industry, we are looking for flexibility and availability of features if needed. The client is expanding and provides a range of products and services. The client is not sure how his business may pivot in the coming 1-2 years and hence does not want to be stuck with a software that cannot meet with his changed needs. The client is willing to pay for more expensive software but it is a conscious decision.
Not a fixed Cost, only pay for time
The biggest advantage of working with ERP consultants is that the client only has to pay for the time of the consultant. The consultants will come, deliver on the assignment and leave. This does not lead to increase in fixed costs of the client. Most companies want to be competitive and cannot afford slack in their office. Hence their teams are mostly occupied with operational issues and operational work. So it becomes very difficult for the companies to spare its operational managers to selection and implementation of ERPs. SMEs face an additional challenge that is lack of necessary skill sets and/ or knowledge of ERPs. Hiring ERP Consultant(s) is a good option to supplement your own team.
The client may feel that the ERP consultant is an additional cost. The ERP consultant understands business of the client. Hence the consultant can design system and get much more from the system. The ERP consultant cuts time in system analysis by documenting the system and capturing desired changes. The other aspect is improving quality for example, the consultant develops use case scenarios which leads to comprehensive testing of the software.
To go with or without ERP cosnsultant? Every company should ask this question before it starts on its ERP journey. If the company wants ERP consultants, it should also decide on the purpose of hiring one, the scope of work for ERP consultant and more importantly the budget for one.