Types of ERP Consultants for Your Digital Transformation
What is an ERP Consultant?
ERP consultants or an ERP consulting group specialize in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solutions and business processes, including accounting, financial management, human resource management, supply chain, operations management, and more. With this combination of expertise, all types of ERP consultants help organizations select and implement a new optimized ERP solution, or analyze and reconfigure an organization’s existing ERP solution.
These consultants are either contract employees working as independent ERP consultants, or a part of an established ERP consulting group. Similar to individual consultants, ERP consulting groups may specialize in certain industries or select software.
Despite the varied scopes of work in this unique field, ERP consultants usually have a similar background. Most often, they have studied business technology management (BTM) and have advanced knowledge in how best to optimize a management information system (MIS) for businesses. They also hold a strong understanding of project management, business process mapping, and risk analysis. While years of industry experience can be a promising sign of a skilled consultant, it is also important to consider a consultant’s expertise in your particular industry, and their understanding of digital transformation trends and the latest updates of a particular ERP software.
The Rise of Digital Transformation
Digital transformation has been a buzzword in the last decade that encompasses many things. It is based on the idea of reshaping internal and customer-facing processes through the adoption of new technologies. The 2020 global pandemic catalyzed digital transformation across every thinkable industry and region. Facing unprecedented challenges, the largest investments that C-suite executives made were into software changes and additions. Digitization had an especially stark acceleration among companies that deliver physical goods. Customer experiences around the world were forced to become virtual and companies realized a lacking digital experience could cause significant profit loss.
Why Do Companies Hire ERP Consultants?
Digital transformation and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) go hand-in-hand. However, this does not mean onboarding a more advanced ERP is the one-step solution. Poor understanding of ERP and insufficient business analysis could lead to an ERP implementation that is unsuitable, too costly, faulty, or one that does more damage than good to the organization. While CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and finance teams may understand the organization best, their lack of ERP knowledge leads executives to work alongside consultants to figure out a solution.
There are many factors that will dictate an ERP consultant’s fit for a particular project. Some will specialize in a particular industry, particular enterprise size, or particular ERP software, such as Sage Intacct or Acumatica.
Components of ERP Consultancy
ERP consultancy goes beyond finding a software that fits an organization’s needs; the full end-to-end process of ERP consultancy comprises many components, including business analysis, software selection, solution design, ERP training, and technical support. Whether or not an ERP consultant is able to carry out these functions depends on their background and scope of work.
Types of ERP Consultants
There are many interchangeable terms in ERP consulting; two consultants may hold the same title, but their service offerings may be quite different. Nonetheless, you may consider the following types of ERP consultants for your company’s next business transformation project.
ERP Business Management Consultant
Business management consultants specialize in analyzing your enterprise’s existing processes, including HR management, customer relationship management, and a lot more. They determine your opportunities for improvement and most costly pain points, and make recommendations with your business goals in mind. These recommendations often lead to an ERP software adjustment.
ERP Software Selection Consultant
Software selection consultants hold advanced knowledge in various industry ERP solutions, knowing the benefits and compatibility of each. These consultants will first perform an audit your business needs to develop a case. If you don’t already have one, they will help you develop an ERP requirements checklist specific to outline your business’s goals and budget for the implementation project. When these two tasks are done with care, a skilled consultant will select a suitable ERP for your enterprise and point you to suitable certified ERP resellers.
ERP Implementation & Training Consultant
Rather than being responsible for the actual hardware installation, an ERP implementation professional is responsible for overseeing the implementation as a project manager. The main purpose of this consultant is to ensure the implementation follows the anticipated timeline, that team members are transitioning onto the new software, and that business operations run smoothly through and following the implementation. They may also lead the functional testing and ERP training with your team.
ERP Financial Consultant
ERP financial consultants are popular amongst businesses that would like to only optimize their accounting and financial management. This type of consultant may hold a background in accounting and finance, and above all, they will have a deep understanding of the accounting and finance modules of the ERP solution. If you are seeking a best-of-breed option for financial management purposes, an ERP financial consultant would be the perfect fit.
ERP Technical Services Consultant
A technical consultant will specialize in one or two particular ERP software solutions. For example, if your existing or newly-implemented ERP solution is Sage Intacct, you may consult a Sage Intacct specialist to troubleshoot technical issues, provide software training for the team, and potentially rework the implementation so it matches your operational and financial needs.
ERP Warehousing Operations Consultant
Companies managing inventory and the related operations have many opportunities to gain efficiencies. A consultant specializing in warehouse operations can help you to gain efficiencies and provide tools to optimize your inventory levels, streamline efficiencies, and ensure customers’ needs are always met in a timely manner.
ERP Manufacturing Operations Consultant
Managing a manufacturing business is a complex network, needing a harmonious process uniting procurement, production, packaging, and shipping. Consultants specializing in manufacturing operations bring a wealth of experience, allowing you to find efficiencies by implementing best practices, and by simplifying and streamlining the information flows.
How to Choose an ERP Consultant
Your ERP consultant will be your partner-in-crime for the course of months or even years. Selecting the best ERP consulting firm can truly reduce unnecessary costs, eliminate headaches, and help you build a solution that is sustainable for your business’s future. Consider the following factors when choosing an ERP consultant or consulting group.
Knowledge and Understanding of Your Industry
Many ERP consulting groups specialize in or have abundant experience in certain industries. Besides taking their word, request to see some of their past case studies on successful implementations in your industry. Consider the usual enterprise size these consultants work with to determine their fit for your organization.
Scope of Work Offered
As outlined above, there are many types of consultants that fall under ERP consulting. It is important to match the size of your ERP implementation project with the scope of work offered by the consultant. If you require an end-to-end implementation, from business analysis to post-implementation technical support, it would be ideal to work with a holistic consulting group that has consultants specializing in each step of the digital transformation.
ERP Consulting Approach
One of the most common practices seen in ERP consulting is performing a one-size-fits-all approach where consultants may apply a detailed template to your business case. While this can lead to lower consulting fees, it can be harmful to your organization and not allow your organization to realize its full potential. If you want unfabricated successful ROIs and a customized solution that matches your business’s goals, seek out an ERP consulting group that starts from scratch on your enterprise analysis and ERP solution design.
Commitment to Your Business
Ideally an ERP implementation is smooth and successful for years down the road, but what is more likely is needing to revisit your solution every few years due to industry changes. Keep in mind that a long-term consultant will likely bill you for your current needs and offer more services should you require them in the future. The Answer Company does not see ERP projects as one-time events, but rather as a long-term partnership that continues even after going live. When your business is ready for expansion or needs to make adaptations, our team is ready to move forward alongside you.