When looking for the right partner to implement your ERP system, a recent article from Panorama Consulting makes a good point: While criteria like the number of installations performed, or the certifications and credentials held by a consulting firm (or reseller’s) staff are certainly worth consideration, these can be fairly superficial. Often, what really matters can be the ‘cultural fit’ of your potential ERP consultants.
While certifications can measure the level of your consultant’s training, many college graduates receive such training and certifications shortly after graduating, they point out. But what about years of real-world experience, a bias for a collaborative approach or knowing that your consultant has a methodology by which to determine how to make a system best fit for you? To address these ideas, Panorama puts forward three thoughts on the matter, which we’ll summarize here:
- Team and collaboration approach. As they (and we) have learned, while the notion of having one crack-shot consultant come in to solve all your woes sounds appealing, the truth us, “the most successful projects are ones that employ a team-based approach.” The best projects draw on the individual strengths of the consultants’ team members, but then they also apply the same logic to the customer’s key team members too. Win-win. Collaborative approaches will yield the best total solution in the end, as we’ve seen time and time again.
- Methodology and process fit. As you’re putting together the specifications for your project, it’s important to know that your consultant has a methodology for discovery, for working through your workflows, and later, for bringing your project to life through the implementation phases. Whether your provider represents one software solution, several, or none at all – they can (or at least should) all be effective at mapping your workflows and then matching the software’s capabilities to your specific needs. In fact, this is the one are where vendors who DO represent one or more products have an edge on the software-agnostic consultant: they can take the results of discovery and transfer that into the actual implementation with the major advantage of really knowing the solution they are about to implement.
- Business model fit. What sort of business model does your consultant use? Are they a one-size-fits-all operation, with little vertical expertise in your industry, while trying to be everything to everyone? Are they too subjective or too focused perhaps on a single product to have a wide industry purview? Do they understand your industry and business model? These are questions to ask and discuss with your advisers before making a final decision on your consulting choice. In the end, it’s about comfort – with the communication between you, with the knowledge level and collaborative approach of your chosen partner, and with your perception of their ability to stick with you until through the various future phases of your implementation. Remember, you’re starting a relationship with a partner, not just a vendor. Make sure it feels like a comfortable fit for the long haul.