4 Important Qualities to Seek in an ERP Consultant

Matt Picariello

Your company is growing and you are experiencing order volume at unprecedented levels. Years of hard work are finally beginning to pay off, and the business is approaching the vision you had for it. As a successful business owner, you know that in order to continue on this current pace it is imperative to work even harder, and to look proactively at your current operations to uncover areas of improvement and new opportunities. Deep down you are fully aware that in order to grow the business even further you cannot remain stagnant in your processes, and that you must account for the anticipated increase in demand. This is the point when many business owners turn to an inventory and accounting ERP software system to help manage all aspects of the business. This is a critical moment in the business cycle, but unfortunately for many owners this type of robust technology is new to them and they are sometimes overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin the search. In certain situations it might make sense to turn to an ERP Consultant and rely on their expertise to help with the process. However, this is not always necessary and depending on the consultant, can lead to negative results. If you do decide to work with a consultant though, in order to increase your chances of a successful search and implementation, ensure you look for a consultant with the following traits:

An Acute Interest in your Business Success

Above all else the top quality you should look for in an ERP Consultant is that they have a genuine interest to help your business grow and succeed. Of course there will be personal and professional gain for the consultant; however, it is the ones who can fully invest themselves into your business that are the most beneficial for both parties. The goal is to hire a consultant who takes the time to deeply consider and question your desired implementation results and your idea of ‘success’. It is important to work cohesively with your consultant to clarify what you hope to achieve and then devise a plan of action to arrive at those results. The last thing you want to do is to hire a consultant who already has a plan of action without taking the time to discuss and learn your goals.

Multi-Vendor Experience

Without even realizing it many ERP Consultants are actually vendor representatives, in that they may not actually work for a specific vendor but they do have preferred solutions. In these cases, the consultant will often steer you in a certain direction regardless of your preferences. It is not necessarily wrong for a consultant to have certain preferences. They often have many years of experience and may find that a select few solutions have worked well for his or her clientele and others have not. The point is that it is best to have a well-rounded consultant who has known experience working with a variety of vendors and is open to suggestions on new vendors.

Open Communication Channels

This may seem fairly obvious, but having open communication channels with your consultant is imperative. You are hiring him or her because they have a certain level of expertise in the ERP software market. As a result, you will have many crucial and time sensitive questions that need their immediate attention. Now we’re not saying he or she must have a dedicated phone line to answer every question that arises on a whim, but rather a noticeable effort to keep in constant communication not allowing too much time to pass without a reply.

A Good Culture Fit

Just as you should want a consultant who shares an interest in your business’ success, you should also search for one that is a good fit with your company’s culture. The consultant will be working with many different employees and you want to ensure their personalities will mesh. For example, if your business has a laid back atmosphere, but the consultant you hire is very serious and formal, there may be a disconnect that will hinder communication.

The Holy Grail - Skin in the Game

If the consultant is willing to not only assist with the software and vendor selection, but to also stake a percentage of the consulting fee on successful implementation, then you will have found the one in a thousand consultant's willing to take ownership of their recommendations. It's certainly worth having the discussion.

Investing in your company’s growth by purchasing an ERP software system is a big step. An ERP Consultant can be a valuable resource to help ensure you are making a wise decision. However, it is just as important to ensure you are picking the right consultant. Should you elect to use a consultant to alleviate the stresses of finding a system, be sure to look for one with the qualities outlined above.