Four decades ago, Jimmy Carter was president of the United States, Star Wars episode IV hit theaters, Radio Shack introduced the TRS-80 Micro Computer, and enterprise resource planning software was born. In the past 40 years, the ERP industry has transformed into a solution that is discovery led and drives business benefit. As providers publish ERP content online almost daily—even with the intent of providing more information and being helpful—it’s still easy to get overwhelmed, making it difficult to understand what is and isn’t achievable from the solution. You may also find yourself wondering who the best partner is for finding the best solution for your business needs.
Fortunately, time has also changed how companies select the right ERP and what they pay for it. While software costs may be more affordable, the evaluation costs may have increased in conjunction with deep-dive due diligence processes built to ensure the ERP delivers the required benefits without a doubt.
The industry may feel saturated with project managers and ERP selection consultants who offer services to advise and guide you through the selection process. This works for some, but often focuses on the functional requirements without recognizing or addressing the value that can be achieved by choosing the correct product and, more importantly, the correct software consultant partner. As important a choice as your ERP selection is, it’s equally important to make sure you choose your consultant carefully.
Why the Right Software Consultant Matters
You know your business better than anybody. You need a software consultant who shares your vision and supports you through the selection process—somebody who understands your business needs and can translate these into a functional ERP solution. They will be able to assist you in assembling your project team, a difficult task in any business, especially one with limited resources. They can advise on business transformation as well as help to deliver the ERP solution. If done correctly, this can drive a very positive cultural outcome.
Businesses that have experienced at least one ERP implementation or one cycle of an ERP upgrade already know the risks and benefits involved with the selection and implementation process. These businesses will be keen to minimize any risk associated with their next selection. You can find the functional characteristics and options of most ERP solutions available along with impartial advice directly from analysts such as Gartner, Nucleus, or TecEval.
Lists and documentation are helpful, but nothing beats having the right person on your side.
Consider the following during your software consultant selection process:
- Understand your business and think about the value and not purely the functional fit.
- If you use a software consultant, ensure they are taking an unbiased view of the optional products and partners.
- Allow the providers access to your business and your team to ask the questions and perform the discovery. A demonstration without discovery will generally miss the mark.
- If an ERP implementation partner offers you a free business analysis or discovery and offers to present this back to you—take it. You can measure the provider on their ability to understand your requirements quickly, and articulately play back their understanding of your needs, your industry, and business.
- Do your own research to understand if a software consultant has experience and references in your industry and specialized business process.
- Take responsibility for your ERP selection process and ownership of the implementation phases. You are buying software for you and your business; empowering somebody else to influence that decision who can walk away at any time is less likely to be a measured success.
- Always ask yourself this question: Is your business taking the right level of responsibility for ERP selection, implementation, and management?
Pick Your Best Fit
Your software consultant is someone who will be around for a long time, so it’s important to pick the best fit. We will be your partner long after we have completed our contract, so the relationship and trust need to be built from the start. With deep experience in the software industry, our Chicago-based IT consultant team is ready to discover your perfect solution. Find out if we’re your new partner.