We often talk with manufacturers and distributors about their enterprise technology initiatives, and the specific role an ERP consultant can play in evaluation, selection and implementation.
Most project teams from mid-market manufacturing and distribution organizatons are challenged by a project. The sheer size of the initiative is a key reason. The typical ERP project cuts across each area of the business, impacting functional areas from finance, accounting and supply chain, to shop floor, production, inventory, quality management, shipping and more. It’s difficult for team to free themselves up from their functional responsibilities and immediate tasks and apply the needed time, effort and attention to the project.
Also, noteworthy – it’s highly unlikely anyone on the project team has gone through or led a comprehensive ERP selection project. At best, perhaps one team member has some experience in the area, but it’s likely their experience took place a decade or so ago.
Another critical factor – a successful ERP selection and implementation demands a myriad of skillsets – from project management, business process mapping, change management and risk management, to a full understanding of modern enterprise technology and the vendor landscape.
Because of these challenges and many others, it’s important the company understands the value an independent ERP consultant team can deliver to their organization.
7 Step Checklist
Outlined here is a 7-part checklist for teams looking to find the best ERP consultants for their project.
We suggest the organization consider each one of these areas as they assess lining up resources:
- Experience: Does the firm’s consulting team know the industry? Will the consultants assigned to the project offer skill-sets specific to manufacturing, distribution?
- Project Deliverables: Are the project deliverables specified (with examples)? Do the deliverables make sense and add value to the business and project?
- Scope of Work: Will the consulting partner work with the organization side-by-side, at each phase of the project, to ensure the project is successful or will the organization be left holding the bag with a laundry list of tasks to do with limited busy resources?
- Independence: Is the firm truly “vendor agnostic” with no relationships to software vendors?
- Services: Does the consulting firm offer services through each phase of a project? (evaluation, selection, implementation)? Does the firm offer a thorough description of the services to be delivered? How long, on average, is the tenure of the consultants assigned to the project?
- Reputation: What does the firm’s past clients say about their experience? Does the consulting firm regularly contribute to industry thought leadership?
- Value: How is project success measured? Is it only on-time, on-budget? Or is there more depth and maturity in the metrics – e.g. is the project business case ROI being met? Does the ERP consulting firm put into place proven methodologies to assess ROI?
A Focus on Change Management
In looking for the best ERP consultants, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention change management – an essential component of business process improvement.
Selecting and implementing an ERP system results in big changes for the entire business. These changes can be overwhelming for the team and the rest of the workforce.
An ERP consultant must offer organizational change management skills to help in user adoption and acceptance of the project.
Change and risk management is also key during the implementation phase. A project has a higher likelihood of success when led by resources with experience in setting the plan, project management, ERP data conversion, and all aspects of ERP implementation. The involvement of an independent resource helps keep the project on time, within scope and on budget – and helps mitigate any conflicts with the vendor.
The Best ERP Consultants Drive Value
While not an exhaustive list, the checklist provided above helps a manufacturing and distribution organization locate the best ERP consultants for their project.
There’s value in obtaining unbiased opinions about what’s working or not working regarding business processes. This expert outsider’s perspective can be invaluable throughout the project to counter the team’s personal biases, based on their job roles and how things have been done in the past.
Heading into an active project? Contact Ultra for a look at the value an ERP consultant can deliver to your organization.