With ERP implementations, choosing the right or wrong project consultants can be the difference between success and failure, so experts agree that you should choose wisely.
ERP success- There is no shortage of variables that can make or break an ERP deployment.
One of the most obvious — and underrated — elements is choosing the right ERP consultants or deployment partners. Experts should be aligned with the project’s objectives, but, more importantly, they must be in sync with the overall character and culture of the organization.
ERP solutions have evolved dramatically over the last few years — think SaaS and hybrid offerings — yet the field of potential ERP consultants who can assist with deployments and upgrades hasn’t changed all that much. There are the large global consultancies, like Deloitte and Accenture, but they mostly cater to Fortune 500 giants. There are also legions of systems integrators and value-added resellers that are typically affiliated with a particular ERP platform, and a growing crop of small, independent consultants that may have specific industry or technology expertise.
Choosing the right category, let alone the specific ERP consultants, has never been easy, but the stakes may be higher today as new cloud and hybrid ERP implementations often function as the centerpiece of manufacturers’ digital transformation efforts.
“I’ve run into too many projects that are screwed up because the chosen partner is coming from a different industry, has a different focus area or required too much time learning the business before they could get around to actually delivering value,” said Josh Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting, an enterprise software consultancy. “The margin for error is very small on an ERP project. SMBs can’t afford to screw up because the impact is enormous and, potentially, quite devastating.”
A cultural fit
The biggest difference between choosing ERP consultants today compared to in the past is a greater emphasis on soft skills, like project and change management and ensuring a cultural fit between organizations. While ERP has always been and still remains a heavy lift from a technology standpoint, cloud-based delivery has taken some of the sting out of deployments.
Further, most SaaS ERP tools limit companies’ ability to customize the software to their business processes. Instead, organizations moving to cloud ERP need to modify their business processes to fit the constraints of the software, and there is often a greater emphasis on integration with other enterprise systems.
“You need partners with data migration expertise and integration expertise, but it’s not all about technological change,” Greenbaum explained. “You need to look for partners that are experts in change management to help you make sure you’re not just dumping change on a workforce [that is] ill-prepared to consider it and not happy to embrace it.”
Deep vertical experience preferred
Another important aspect of choosing an ERP consulting partner is their level of experience — including domain expertise and customer references — that is specific to a particular vertical segment. Partners that have in-depth knowledge of industry-specific business processes, regulatory requirements and supply chain operations are that much further ahead when mapping the business requirements to the ERP solution, which reduces the likelihood of implementation problems and accelerates time to deployment.