Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system implementation carries a high-degree of complexity that is more or less matched by the complexity of the actual enterprise software. An ERP implementation project can be time-consuming, costly and just plain challenging — a reality that prompts companies to seek out an ERP implementation consultant.
ERP implementation consultants offer tremendously useful insights and guidance that serve to streamline the process in a way that can cut costs and shorten the project timeframe. But an affiliation with the ERP implementation partner can potentially skew a consultant’s perspective on a project, which prompts many companies to seek out independent ERP implementation consultants who can be contracted to advise on their project.
What Does an Independent ERP Implementation Consultant Do?
An independent ERP implementation consultant serves as your partner, advisor, and advocate as an organization’s enterprise software system is configured, integrated, and prepared for deployment.
The term “independent” is key because it indicates that they are not affiliated with the service provider who is performing the ERP implementation. This is an important differentiator; one that ensures your consultant is objective and ready to look after your interests first and foremost.
These ERP consultants play an important role in the enterprise software implementation process, including the following tasks.
Coordination and Involvement in Resource Planning – An ERP implementation consultant will assist in coordinating the many moving parts that must come together for a successful enterprise software rollout. This can take many forms, such as attending meetings and strategy sessions with the implementation partner or serving as a go-between. The objective is to streamline the ERP implementation process and minimize any adverse operational impact so at the end of the day, the organization walks away from the engagement with an enterprise software system that will serve them well into the future.
Advising on Plans and Process – Planning is critical for a successful ERP implementation. Refined, highly-efficient processes are vital too. An enterprise software consultant will know what works and what doesn’t — insight that is gleaned from their involvement in multiple implementation projects. An independent consultant can take an objective look at your chosen implementation partner’s processes and any action plans that have been developed. In addition to providing recommendations, an ERP implementation consultant can also be involved in the initial planning phases. (In fact, that is the ideal scenario, but it does not always happen because some companies do not hire an independent ERP implementation consultant until they realize that their project may be going off the rails.)
Advocating – Your consultant will serve as a powerful advocate in all of your dealings with an implementation partner. They will guard your interests and speak up on your behalf whenever the need arises. An experienced ERP implementation consultant will have a high degree of familiarity with the process, leaving them well-positioned to know when it is best to speak up and take action.
Problem-Solving – A good ERP consultant is an adept problem solver. ERP implementations are never straightforward; anyone who suggests otherwise has never attempted to centralize a company’s data, workflows, and processes into a single, user-friendly interface. Implementing these enterprise software systems requires extensive configuration, data migration, integrations, development of custom plugins, and creation of customized workflows and processes (among many other things.) You will also need a solid deployment strategy and plans for training users. ERP implementation is extremely multi-faceted and as such, pitfalls are commonplace. The virtual speed bumps: unavoidable. An independent ERP implementation consultant will serve as a valuable asset by bringing their problem-solving skills and ideas to the table.
Asking Questions – This may sound like a rather odd function, but it’s an extremely important one. An ERP consultant will know exactly what questions to ask during meetings with an implementation partner. This ensures that all bases are covered and your ERP implementation process runs smoothly.
An independent ERP implementation consultant will serve as a trusted partner, advocate, and guide who protects your interests and strives to keep your project on track. Their level of involvement in the actual implementation process can vary. Some consultants actually get their hands dirty, so to speak, by actively assisting with various aspects of the implementation; others maintain a more advisory role.
Why Hire an Independent ERP Implementation Consultant?
Independent ERP implementation consultants possess a degree of objectivity that is difficult to achieve for a consultant who is affiliated with the service provider who is performing the implementation. A conflict of interest may exist — sometimes, this occurs on a subconscious level and the consultant is unaware of their bias in favor of their employer. But when you hire an independent ERP implementation consultant, they work for your organization and you can proceed with confidence knowing that they are exclusively guarding your interests.
An independent ERP implementation consultant will offer opinions, advice, and insights to help guide the process in a way that lowers cost, minimizes any impact on a company’s operations, and speeds up the implementation timeframe. Your ERP consultant will serve as a powerful advocate with their extensive knowledge of the implementation process.
To see maximum benefit from your engagement with an independent ERP implementation consultant, it is best to hire an ERP professional and involve an individual early in the game. Do not hope for the best and wait until a problem arises. Ideally, you should bring a consultant on board on day one, before you even select your ERP platform. Early involvement allows your consultant to bring the maximum benefit to the table. This translates into a smoother, faster, and more cost-effective ERP implementation.
ERP implementations are complex and various aspects of the process — such as data migration — can be downright disastrous if you fail to prepare properly. At Cox-Little, we understand how stressful an ERP implementation can be. Working with an experienced independent ERP implementation consultant can alleviate much of that stress by keeping your project on track from start to finish. If you are ready to start your ERP implementation project, contact the Cox-Little team to connect with ERP experts who can guide your business toward success.