When we started Panorama in 2005, we were one of the few truly independent consultants focused on ERP systems. The times have changed, however, and now there are a variety of competitors that have tried to replicate our business model. Given our position as the world’s leading independent ERP thought leaders – and since we have essentially created and led the market for independent ERP consultants – we thought that now would be an appropriate time to provide our analysis of the various players in the market.
When we look at ERP consultants, we evaluate their value based on two criteria: independence and innovation. Both are critical to ensure that organizations are getting the best balance of technology-agnostic guidance and inventive, high quality processes and methodologies.
The first criterion to consider when evaluating ERP consultants is their level of independence. While most consulting firms are somehow aligned with ERP vendors, it is in the best interest of organizations purchasing and implementing ERP software to have an unbiased advisor. More specifically, there are two components of independence:
- Financial independence, with no kickback or referral fee arrangements with ERP vendors. This means that the consultant can objectively recommend and implement a solution based on clients’ unique business needs rather than potentially perverse financial incentives.
- Breadth of ERP experience, meaning that the consulting firm isn’t solely familiar with the handful of ERP software packages that their relatively limited number of staff have experience with. In addition, this criterion also considers whether or not the firm has a Manager of Vendor Relations, or other staff member that is focused on gathering and documenting up-to-date information related to leading ERP vendors in the market.
- Breadth of global, cross-industry experience, meaning that they are able to leverage best practices and lessons learned from a variety of industries and regions. Many consulting firms specialize in one industry vertical, such as manufacturing, or one geographic location, such as North America. The best consultants, however, are able to leverage experience from a variety of clients and have the delivery capabilities to support global, multi-site selection and implementation projects.
In addition to independence, it behooves organizations to enlist the help of consulting firms that are innovative and can provide the most relevant and successful best practices that the industry has to offer. There are two key aspects of innovation:
- Well-defined processes and methodologies, meaning that the firm is not only providing smart, capable, and experienced consultants, but also is leveraging the collective knowledge of its repeatable and well-defined processes to ensure both consistent quality and the confidence that clients receive the same results regardless of who the individual consultants are.
- ERP industry thought leadership, meaning industry leaders and peers turn to the firm for guidance on ERP selection and implementation best practices. One way to gauge a consulting firm’s level of thought leadership is to search the internet for the consulting firm’s name to see how often they are quoted by credible journalists, bloggers and other industry leaders. For example, a simple search of the term “Panorama Consulting” shows that Panorama’s broad research and experience has been cited by over 100 credible sources, suggesting a strong position of thought leadership and knowledge of the ERP software market. (You can also see recent references on our Panorama in the Press page.)
With these two criteria in mind, and using the quadrant below as a visual reference point, it is clear that it isn’t uncommon to find consulting firms that meet one of these two critical variables. However, it is extremely uncommon to find a firm that meets both criteria. Independence is nice, but it won’t get you very far if the consulting firm doesn’t have innovative and leading best practices to help your organization make its ERP initiatives successful. By the same token, an innovative consulting firm won’t get you very far if their understanding of the ERP market is dependent on the limited knowledge of a handful of employees.
The quadrant features all of the relevant and prominent global ERP consultants, but does not include some of the smaller-tier, local, or regional consulting firms by name. While those types of firms are lumped into one broad category in the upper left quadrant, they are not the types of firms that our larger, global client base considers, so we have intentionally omitted them from this analysis.
When picking your ERP consulting partner, choose wisely. Ideally, you will want to find a partner that can successfully lead you through the entire ERP project lifecycle, rather than a firm to help you complete a more limited engagement. Contact Panorama’s team of independent ERP experts today to find out more about how we compare to other ERP consulting firms and how we can help with your ERP initiative.
Navigating the 2012 ERP Quadrant: Comparing ERP Consultants,