Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems represent some of the largest and most complex business software platforms in use. Really, this should come as no surprise since ERP platforms are designed to serve as the digital core of a company’s operations. These platforms can handle everything from human resources, accounting, and CRM capabilities, to marketing and sales, eCommerce / POS, manufacturing, inventory management, and business analytics.
The complexity and mission-critical nature of an ERP platform really demand an ERP consultant who can offer guidance as you select the best ERP system for your needs, go through the ERP implementation, deployment, and training processes, and then continually maintain — and occasionally upgrade — your platform. But what ERP consultant skills should you look for when hiring the ERP professionals who will oversee and manage your enterprise software?
The Most Valuable ERP Consultant Skills
Each ERP consultant has a unique background and skill set, making it important that you understand your own needs as an organization. Only then can you find alignment with an enterprise resource planning consultant’s skills and expertise. Here are a few key ERP consultant skills to consider as you begin your search.
- ERP Software-Related Technical Skills – While a technical background isn’t mandatory to be an effective ERP consultant, it sure gives them an advantage. Some of the best consultants are individuals who have prior work experience on ERP platforms. This experience can take many forms, including as an ERP developer, ERP implementation expert, and ERP engineer. A technical background and experience working on ERP systems leads to some unique insights that will prove very useful in a consulting role.
- Industry Experience – Ideally, your ERP consultant should have experience working within your industry or business sector. So many aspects of an ERP system are industry-specific, making this experience extremely valuable and relevant. Perhaps they have consulted for clients in the same field as your organization. If so, ask them to discuss a few success stories, articulating how they solved a difficult problem or offered value in another way.
Even better is the ERP consultant who has worked on enterprise resource planning software in your industry. Maybe they previously worked as an ERP engineer for a similar type of company. This would afford some great industry-specific insights that would prove quite useful in a consulting role.
- Problem-Solving and Analytical Skills – An ERP consultant will be tasked with identifying and solving problems. They’re also expected to pinpoint processes and ERP configurations that could be improved, offering strategies and recommendations for modifications that will maximize productivity and ROI. These are just a couple examples of job duties that will require strong analytical skills and refined problem-solving capabilities.
To get a better idea of a consultant candidate’s analytical and problem-solving skills, ask lots of hypothetical questions. Present a few scenarios and ask them how they would approach that situation. This will give you an idea of how well they think on their feet too.
- Leadership and Communication Skills – To get the maximum value-add from your ERP consultant, they must have strong communication and leadership skills. ERP consultants will be interacting with individuals throughout the company, discussing their usage of the enterprise software platform and — among other things — evaluating their needs and pain points surrounding the ERP system. This is just one example of a task that demands strong communication skills in order to be effective. A consultant also needs to be a good communicator if they’re going to take point on developing strategies for improvement, for instance, or wish to conduct a workshop on more efficient ERP usage for a particular division of the company.
Strong leadership skills are essential too. You want an ERP consultant who is willing to take initiative and lead the pack. Refined leadership capabilities tend to go hand-in-hand with good communication skills.
- Data Analysis Skills – Your ERP consultant should be very comfortable with data analytics. These enterprise software systems generate large volumes of data — data that can be leveraged to evaluate the ERP platform, user workflows, and a variety of other processes. This information is critical for making informed, data-driven recommendations for improvements, modifications, and customizations of a company’s enterprise resource planning software.
Your ERP system is architected to allow for growth and evolution that will accommodate the growth and evolution of your organization and its operations. Therefore, you want to ensure that your enterprise resource planning software consultant is well-positioned to identify modifications that will bring a maximum benefit.
- Planning Skills – Planning skills are important for an ERP consultant since they are often expected to lead the development of enterprise software-related plans — implementation plans, data migration plans, improvement plans, training plans, and so on.
Develop a plan that is unrealistic or just poorly formulated and you risk a significant adverse impact. Therefore, your ERP consultant should know what it takes to develop a workable, strategic plan that will lead to maximum benefit.
The right ERP consultant can have a tremendously positive impact on a company and its operations — but only if their skill set aligns with your needs as an organization. Consultants cannot provide a one-size-fits-all kind of solution, so take the time to really consider each of these skills and how they relate to your business and its operations. You may find that there are other skills that your ideal ERP consultant ought to possess. If so, add the skills to your list and keep them front-of-mind as you begin your search.
ERP systems are highly complex and you need the right tech talent and consultants to ensure a maximum ROI from your enterprise software investment. At Cox-Little, we understand the importance of finding the perfect ERP consultant for an organization’s unique needs. We specialize in pairing clients with ERP talent that virtually always surpasses expectations. If you are about to begin the hiring process for your ERP platform, reach out to the team at Cox-Little and let our expert team set you off down a path toward success.