Selecting an ERP Consultant: Good Reasons for Change

Part 2 of 10

Too many companies change ERP consultants for all the wrong reasons and would actually be best served by staying with their current firm. Consider that you selected your current ERP consultant for a good reason to begin with (or you should have had good reasons in the first place).

Make sure that before you make a hasty decision to switch that you evaluate all of your options to improve your relationship you’re your current ERP provider. Tell them your concerns and work with them if possible to address priority situations.

If you’re not happy with their support – ask them to add resources or to implement an online knowledgebase or talk to them about after hour or special support options. If you struggle with personality conflicts – ask to work with another consultant. If you don’t trust their technical skills – ask that they subcontract these types of projects to a different firm. The key here is that you have a lot of ways to stay put and continue working with your current ERP consultant if you want to (in most cases).

However, there will come a time when you will need (or want) to switch ERP consultants and there are some good reasons for making the change. Just make sure that you don’t make these decisions in a vacuum. Consider the pros and the cons and make an educated and holistic decision based on multiple factors. And whatever you do – do not make a decision to move based on emotion. Your choice in an ERP consultant should be based on their ability to meet your needs and not entirely on your emotions which can (and will) change dramatically over time. One day you may love your ERP consultant and another day you may want to fire them but look at the complete body of their work and make the decision on fact, not emotion.

Remember that while you may have a few good reasons to change – you may still be better off staying with your current ERP consultant because of other factors. Lastly, as our grandparents often said – the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

We’ve worked with a lot of companies through the years that simply had unreasonable expectations when it came to ERP consulting. They thought we were overpriced or that we took too long with our detailed approach to project management or consulting or development. But when they switched to another provider they realized that our prices were lower in the end because we did it right the first time and our detailed approach saved them time and money (and frustration) because it didn’t have to go back again, and again, and again for rework.

The criteria you should use to evaluate a new ERP consultant are virtually the same for reasons to leave your current ERP consultant. Good reasons to change may be on one of (or many of) the criteria below:

ERP Change: You’re changing ERP systems and your current ERP consultant does not have the expertise in the new product.

On-Going Consulting: Your current ERP provider didn’t do a great job with your implementation. You need a stronger ERP consultant for re-implementation or for on-going training, support, integration, or development services.

Product Portfolio: Your current ERP provider’s product portfolio offers few options for your organization (currently or future for migration). This could be based on the core ERP products and the products they represent might not be a fit for your company based on company size or by industry or this could be based on the availability of third party products that your ERP consultant works with. For example, human resources, CRM, budgeting, business intelligence, or a third party industry application.

Service Offering: Your current ERP provider may rely on consultants for product support or they may not have the expertise you need for integration, customization, development, or they may not be trained on modules that are critical to your business’ use of the core ERP product.

Results/Success: Some ERP consultants are really good at consulting and training but are very poor at mapping features and functions to desired results. It’s vital that your ERP consultant understand why you’re trying to do certain things rather than simply how to do them. They should have a focus on helping you reduce total cost of ownership and validating your return on investment for new ERP implementation or on-going projects.

Culture: Just like relationships, sometimes ERP consultants just aren’t the right fit for your organization or for yourself personally. Despite your best efforts you’re just not compatible. This could be related to the way they do business, personality conflicts, or other cultural factors.

No X Factor: Every relationship has that X Factor – that one thing that you can’t quite put your finger on but you know has incredible value to your relationship. It could just be the feeling you get working with the ERP consultant or maybe they have an uncanny knack of getting things right or knowing what you want even when you don’t. Don’t ignore the X Factor. There are many good ERP consultants but very few great ERP consultants and those have the X Factor.

So if you’re considering switching ERP consultants you can probably identify with one or many of the points above. If so, you should consider your options as you move forward. And don’t be complacent. Just because you have a good ERP consultant now, don’t be naïve enough to think that their business (and yours) won’t change over time. You should reconsider your options every year or two to ensure that your needs are being met.

photo courtesy of Chris Lawton via Unsplash.com