Mid- to large-sized businesses and non-profits use enterprise resource planning software to track inventory, manage accounting and human resource functions, manage customer relations, track supply chains, create budgets, provide project management functionality and analyze data. They do this to keep the organization running efficiently.
Selecting and implementing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is a major undertaking that usually requires professional advice. Here’s what to consider when choosing a professional ERP consultant.
Your ERP consultant must be free of conflicts of interest. You want objective and unbiased advice on which systems and software will do the best job for your business at the right price. Be wary of any consultant who has a beneficial relationship with a specific software provider.
There are two types of experience to consider: experience with ERP selection and implementation and experience with your particular industry. Your ERP consultant must understand the needs of your business within your industry.
The consultant’s experience with your industry qualifies them to help you select the best ERP software. This is especially important when considering all the additional work for your business and industry associated with implementing an ERP system.
In your search for an ERP consultant, consideration of cultural fit with your team is critical. ERP implementations can take 9 to 18 months, depending on their complexity. You must feel confident that your team will accept the consultant you choose. Additionally, guarantee that your ERP consultant can effectively engage and lead a team through a complex implementation process.
Employees can be suspicious anytime you hire an outside consultant. Communication skills, especially listening, are critical parts of culture that will enable your team to accept advice and guidance from an ERP consultant.
Front-line staff know best what challenges your organization faces in logistics, production schedules, supplies, data analysis, accounting, human resources, budgeting and project management. The ERP consultant’s first job is to listen and gain your team’s trust. Your employees need to know they will be working with a person or firm that understands and cares about their concerns.
Many companies find their ERP consultant as a result of referrals from industry colleagues. Even so, references are critical. Ask for references who can speak from direct experience of the ERP selection and implementation process with any consultant you’re considering. Ensure confidentiality so they can speak freely and give you an unvarnished account of their experience with the consultant.
Press your candidates on the extent of their services during the interviews. Choosing a system is one thing; implementing it is another. Your selected consultant should understand the impact of ERP implementation on all your business processes.
They should have a plan for training your team, documenting how to use the new software, troubleshooting and benchmarks for success over an extended period. Shy away from any consultant who promises an unrealistic implementation timeline that doesn’t account for these essential aspects of a successful transition to a new ERP system.
Battalia Winston provides professional services executive search assistance that will narrow the field of prospective ERP consultants to top candidates you can feel confident about selecting. Let us help you identify top candidates with the right expertise for your business.