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How Not to Work With ERP Consultants

The demand for ERP consultants is rising. And, as more and more organizations realize that the key way to achieve enhanced returns on their ERP system investment is by leveraging the expertise of third-party advisors, the market will continue to expand. It’s certainly good news for us but, with that being said, we at Panorama thought it might be wise to publish a little primer on how not to work with or hire ERP consulting firms:

  • Get the biggest, most expensive consulting firm out there and let them run the show. Oh, if only it were so easy. Organizations that make the dreaded mistake of believing that outsourcing equates noninvolvement end up sacrificing control of the very core of their business. It doesn’t matter if the consulting firm hired is the most expensive or reputable, if you let them run the show, you’ll end up with their version of your business.
  • Limit employee interaction with consultants. If you keep your consultants and their work sequestered away from your staff, then your staff will have no idea about the ERP system, its importance to the business moving forward or what it means to themselves or their departments. And if your staff has no real idea about what’s happening, then they’ll be anxious and unhappy about the implementation and less willing to accept organizational changes or adjustments when they are announced.
  • Forget about personality, hire solely on technical skills. Sure, if you’re implementing SAP then you need someone who knows SAP. Same for Oracle, Epicor, Lawson and all the rest. But the truth of the matter is that you’re going to be spending a lot of time with your consultants. You have to make sure that at the end of the day, their personalities and approaches match those of your organization. A technical genius who can’t speak your company’s language will quickly prove useless.
  • Have HR handle all of your ERP staffing. If you’re not in the ERP staffing business, then don’t assume your human resources department can make the determinations necessary to find the right people for the project — and that goes for hiring both firms and individuals. It’s a specialized skill set that probably isn’t in line with your organization’s normal hiring needs. And if there’s no top-down leadership explaining who exactly needs to be brought in and which requirements they need to fulfill, then your HR people will be adrift with no rudder.
  • Pinch pennies when it comes to gathering requirements and business blueprinting. Some consultants will tell you just about anything to get the job, even lowballing or pooh-poohing parts of the process as critical as requirements gathering and business blueprinting. But just because you trust someone to change your oil doesn’t mean they should design your car. Skimping on the beginning stages of your ERP implementation will only cause you great sorrow and expense later on. Make no mistake about it: it will cost you dearly to hire a cheap consulting firm.
It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to hiring ERP consultants or staff and that’s exactly why smart businesses make the mistakes detailed above. Learn more ERP critical success factors at our Lessons Learned from Best-in-Class ERP Implementations webinar on December 15.

Written by Brevard Neely

Bree brings over a decade of experience in public relations, marketing and internal communications to her position as Manager of Organizational Change Management Services and Marketing at Panorama. Prior to founding her eponymous consulting company in 2007, she worked as a senior editor in consumer products for Edelman and a creative director for Mitchell & Associates. She also served as the Director of Development for the Worldwide Fistula Fund, a nonprofit focused on maternal health care in west Africa. Bree holds a BA from the Colorado College and an Executive MBA from Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver.

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