What does an ERP consultant do?

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) consultants are often specialists in a specific line of business, such as finance, or an industry vertical like manufacturing. Generally, consultancy services deal with the selection, implementation, training and support of an ERP solution. A consultant should give you good advice, listen to your needs and tell you hard truths when necessary.

Do I need an ERP consultant?

It’s likely that no one knows how your business works better than you. Likewise, no one understands business management systems better than the people who develop and deploy them for a living. One of the most critical factors in an ERP implementation is the partnership between the client and consultant project teams.

ERP consultants are experts in the transition from old, usually disparate, business management systems to the new solution. They analyse and understand your business requirements, and in this context evaluate potential ERP solutions. Choosing the most appropriate system, then deploying, customising, testing and fine tuning that system are all phases of the project which can be handled by ERP consultants.  

What kind of ERP consultant do I need?

Some consultancies will specialise in a particular phase of the process, while others are adept at delivering an end-to-end solution. Your requirements for a management system may be quite limited in scope or may be as ambitious as the complete transformation of your business processes. Your consultant should have knowledge of your industry and the consultancy and development resources to meet your project’s needs.

What kind of ERP consultant should I avoid?

Good ERP development and consulting resources are limited. Beware a consultant who sells you the project with their A-team, but cannot commit that team for the lifetime of the project. The consultant should be able to commit a core team from start to finish.

Timelines should be reasonable. Setting unrealistic deadlines encourages consultants to rush straight in to the solution design without first fully understanding your business. Missed requirements will result in considerably more extra time and expense later in the implementation. Be wary of consultants who always say yes.

What should I expect from a consultant?

ERP projects are notoriously complex and high risk. Not surprisingly, the high-profile failures are the ones that get most attention. A good consultant will keep the project on track by following a road-tested methodology, listening to and guiding the client, mitigating project risks, and handling the psychological aspects of change.

Again, a good consultant will recognise and avoid pitfalls, such as scope creep, inadequate testing and poor data cleansing. The best consultant is not necessarily the one who promises to deliver all your requirements. Honesty, and advising that something can’t be done, is better than starting down a path of inevitable failure. Value your consultant’s expertise and, at the same time, demand from them the highest standards.

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Written by
Simon Barrett

A native of London and a graduate in economics, Simon began his marketing and PR career in the music and film industries. Simon is fascinated by the compelling ideas that shape our future and communicates them with passion.