10 Signs of a Good ERP Consulting Firm
An ERP implementation’s success or failure can depend entirely on the ERP consulting firm your organization chooses to work with over the course of months or even several years. When it comes to ERP consulting, implementation, training, and the many other activities that fall under this unique umbrella, there are many types of consultants and consulting groups. The primary candidacy aspect you want to consider is the fit between a consultant’s services and your implementation needs – but beyond this, consider the following 10 telling signs of a good ERP consulting firm.
1. Customized Methodology
One of the most common practices taken by ERP consultants is a one-size-fits-all approach to software selection and implementation. Many firms will simply reuse a checklist or template while creating the facade of drafting a case analysis of your business and prescribing a certain software. They may charge marginally lower fees and provide a quicker turnaround, but it can significantly damage your business.
Recognize an ERP consulting firm’s customized methodology by checking if their business analysis is thorough. The consulting team should be asking countless questions about not only your business’s current operations, needs, and challenges, but also your organization’s long-term goals, such as international expansion or franchising. This proves the consultant is trying to design a solution that can be adapted to fit your growth and industry changes. Above all, they should show concern about your organization’s people. While certain softwares may seem like a match on the surface, it is crucial the consultant analyzes how it may affect a team’s workflow. All of these aspects should be demonstrated deliverables, such as a detailed ROI document and comprehensive business case.
Additionally, ensure that the team has a software development team capable of making customizations to the build of your ERP software. Depending on the uniqueness of your business, you may need custom fields or functions that need to be added by your ERP experts.
2. Familiarity with Your Existing Systems
It is a given that your ERP consultant will harbour expertise in financial management and accounting, the basis of all ERP softwares. However, holding deep expertise in project management softwares, HRIS platforms, CRM systems, and eCommerce solutions is essential too, as you will want a seamless integration of all your systems with your ERP. Many cloud solutions now have open API architecture, which allows for integration with a multitude of systems across various industries, but your consultant must be an expert at understanding how to design the ERP solution so it connects smoothly with the other aspects of your business.
3. Searches for Solutions Instead of Loopholes
For the sake of your business health, you must be nitpicky as an ERP buyer. In the discovery phase, ask as many questions and raise as many concerns as possible. If the consultants are proposing solutions or promising an answer later, this shows that they have your business’s best interests in mind. If they are offering generic answers or loopholes for your unique concerns, this indicates the solution design may not be optimal.
At the same time, a good consultant will not necessarily promise to deliver on all your requests. Sometimes your unique business model does not have a perfect solution, and it is better when a consultant is honest with the reach of an ERP rather than making promises they can’t keep.
4. Receptive Communication
Throughout the implementation, your organization’s executive team and various departments will raise questions about the new ERP. Your consulting group should be able to respond to you quickly, rather than having week-long turnarounds to your emails. This indicates that their attention is too spread out across multiple clients or they are not on the same page as you. Thorough yet concise communication delivered in a timely manner will save you a tremendous amount of time and profit.
5. Industry-Specific Knowledge
Many consulting firms specialize in certain industries and fields, usually as a result of their past projects and team of consultants. A showcase of case studies in your industry shows that they are knowledgeable in your industry’s regulations, challenges, and even about what your direct competitors are currently doing.
At the same time, beware of narrow-minded consulting firms that only specialize in one or two industries, and are adamant to jam you into the mix. In today’s complex global supply chain, many businesses cover a multitude of fields, such as a combination of construction and field services. The reason to be careful of consulting firms like these is that they might lazily reapply an industry-specific implementation template that’s not truly suitable for your organization.
6. Certifications and Awards in ERP Software Implementation
ERP consultants can become certified in certain softwares through passing rigorous training and testing. Certifications for Acumatica and Sage software last a few years before the consultants must renew it. This ensures that their proficiency of the software is up-to-date with the software’s annual updates.
Partner dictations and awards such as being an Acumatica Gold Partner or Sage Platinum Elite Partner also indicate a consulting firm’s advanced experience in ERP implementation. These awards are based on a consulting firm’s client satisfaction, software proficiency, and breadth of ERP implementations.
7. Holistic Implementation Services
ERP implementation consists of multiple components, from business management analysis to IT support. There are usually different types of ERP consultants dedicated to each step, and it’d be ideal if the consulting group has specialized consultants for each aspect. Working with a holistic ERP consulting group will save you costs and time, because you won’t have to reiterate your case to various partners.
A holistic ERP methodology should include business case development, multiple meetings with executives, software selection, ERP implementation, ERP training, and ongoing tech support. To complement this, there should be comprehensive budgets and timelines through the whole process. Holistic methodologies allow you to get the most of your ERP implementation.
8. Innovative Approach and Ongoing Learning
While your consultant may find a suitable solution for you, there may be a better design out there. A consultant’s consistent attendance at digital transformation webinars and conferences is an indication of their commitment to ERP education. New digitization solutions are arising each year, and a consulting group’s dedication to ongoing learning will lead to a more innovative and well-fit ERP solution.
9. Credible Case Studies and Testimonials
All consulting groups will present some success stories of completed implementations, but it is important for you to think critically about how valuable the results are to your company. Compare the ROIs and other statistics against your organization’s current standing and where you wish to be with this new ERP. Furthermore, you can do extended research into how the companies of these success stories are doing now. Note that these case studies are a lot more credible when there are actual claims made by the finance team about productivity, via text or video testimonial.
10. Overall Cultural Fit and Commitment
An ERP implementation could take anywhere between six months to three years, so you want to ensure there is a cultural fit between your organization and the consulting organization. While the discovery phase is designed to better understand your business needs, it is also the prime chance for you to figure out the consultants’ working styles and discover any lack of professionality.
Try to find an ERP consulting group where there is full transparency and rather than a business service, you sense the formation of a partnership. Rather than a one-time business deal, when a long-term partnership is formed, the consulting group will have your best interests in mind. A consulting group that becomes your organization’s partner won’t try to add unnecessary costs to your bill and, instead, they can offer more services should you require them in the future. Ensure that the consultants offer comprehensive technical support, maintenance, and upgrades should you need them.