Nov. 28, 2016 | InBrief

ERP business consultants: Excessive overhead or valuable assets?

ERP business consultants: Excessive overhead or valuable assets?

Successful ERP implementations are rarely highlighted. Poorly run implementations, on the other hand, produce spectacular failures and financial nightmares. With a myriad of pitfalls and complexity in ERP implementations, it takes more than just a strong understanding of everyday business or the latest technology to make an implementation successful. It takes a full team of dedicated professionals who have both specialized knowledge and practical experience in:

  • Mapping business needs and requirements to system functionality

  • Cleaning and migrating data from one structure to another

  • Integrating disparate systems in an IT environment

  • Gaining support and dedication from various business partners

  • Evaluating readiness and fostering change for the organization

  • Estimating and prioritizing key activities while controlling the scope of the overall project

Having specialized ERP business consultants lead the charge may cost thousands up front, but could end up saving a lot more long term.

The Value of Adding Business Consultants to Projects

While business consultants may raise the total cost of the project, having knowledge and expertise specifically around ERP implementations can significantly de-risk a complex implementation. Strong business consultants:

  • Understand the capabilities of ERP systems and what these systems can and more importantly cannot do

  • Specialize in executing ERP implementations and partnering with line resources to connect business requirements with system capabilities

  • Provide experience with tested implementation methodologies that can be tailored for each new project

  • Identify and apply industry best practices for both business and technology processes

  • Provide experience managing vendors, and both internal and external stakeholders

  • Deliver change management through specific milestones to maximize adoption

  • Identify and raise potential risks and pitfalls that previous projects experienced and create mitigation strategies

  • Provide full-time dedication and attention to the project

ERP business consultants specialize in ERP implementations and collaborate closely with clients to understand and support their needs as they undergo a business transformation.

Lessons to Leverage

After undergoing a number of ERP implementations and working side-by-side with various ERP system integrators, we have learned valuable lessons and incorporated best practices into our methodology to ensure an implementation both starts and ends successfully. Lessons learned:

  • Separation of the PMO from the System Integrator increases accountability and adds an additional safeguard of checks and balances

  • Change management throughout the entire project is not only necessary, but crucial, for fostering engagement, adoption, and overall success

  • Eliminating political bias through clearly defined gateway criteria may take longer to achieve, but could potentially save the project from critical risks when pressure is high

  • Supporting work stream leaders or technical function leaders with project management discipline and support is typically required to create strong project plans and estimates

  • Data Migration and System Integration activities are typically two of the more complex areas; planning and execution must start DAY 1 to mitigate delay risks

Keep an eye out for part 2 of this blog series which will focus on how to structure a successful ERP implementation team! If you are about to embark on an ERP implementation or would simply like another perspective please contact us.

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