Whether you’re lost and asking for directions or distraught and seeking a listening ear, asking for help is never easy. This is true in both our personal lives and our professional lives. While asking a coworker for help can be embarrassing, it’s not as mortifying as seeking outside help beyond the walls of your organization. Many executives dread the prospect of seeking professional guidance, such as a business consultant or ERP consultant, to address an organizational issue they don’t want to address internally due to time or resource constraints.
According to Gartner, CEO’s top priorities for 2018 are growth and IT-related. It will be interesting to see how many of these CEOs seek outside help and how many use only in-house resources to transform their organization.
Reasons Organizations Don’t Engage ERP Consultants
- Asking for help seems like a sign of weakness. You might feel like you’re admitting incompetence, but you’re actually admitting you have limits. No organization has unlimited time and resources. Acknowledging this fact is a strength. It shows you’re informed about your processes, your people and your pain points. It shows you’re willing to change and do what’s right for your employees and your organization as a whole. If you hide organizational problems, they become much harder to fix.
- Your competitors don’t seem to be struggling. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re falling behind your competitors. But, are you really? Underneath all of their flashy marketing and innovative products, likely lie the same underlying operational pains your organization is experiencing. Again, your feelings of incompetence are unfounded. You’re all in the same boat. The person who calls an ERP consultant first, will quickly outpace the others and achieve operational efficiency, customer satisfaction and revenue growth.
- You’ll surrender control of your project. While it’s difficult to trust people you don’t know with something dear to you, no one said you won’t have any say in the process. In fact, you’ll be in charge of all final decisions, and you’ll have the opportunity to set the tone for all project communications. Digital transformations are more likely to succeed with executive sponsorship and buy-in. The more involved you are, the more business benefits your organization will realize. ERP consultants make recommendations – you decide whether or not to follow them.
- You’ll choose the wrong ERP consultant. Maybe you’ve had experiences in the past where your ERP consultant put entry-level college grads on your project and allowed you minimal facetime with senior leaders. Maybe you were given a biased recommendation for an ERP system based on the consultant’s financial ties. Maybe you are scarred from this experience. While you don’t want to risk making the same mistake again, your project will benefit from third-party guidance, so you should keep your options open. If you need additional skillsets and resources, the right ERP consultant can provide this while bringing seasoned, industry expertise and unbiased software recommendations.
Why it’s OK to Ask for Help
While there are many reasons to approach a digital transformation without third-party guidance, there are just as many reasons to ask for help:
- Validation of project deliverables – Oftentimes, you’re too close to the project to see the big picture or you’re focused on organizational politics. A third-party can provide a fresh perspective and review your project plan to ensure it’s realistic and includes all necessary components.
- Lessons learned from other digital transformations – If you hire the right ERP consultants, you will have access to experts with a wide breadth of digital transformation experience. They’ve encountered similar problems to yours and know how to navigate challenges such as vendor negotiations and organizational change management.
- Specialized skills – Speaking of organizational change management, you may not have this expertise in-house. If you hire the right experts, they’ll have both technical and business skillsets to address the full lifecycle of your digital transformation.
- Reduced strain on employees – You don’t have to significantly disrupt your employees’ day-to-day jobs to transform your organization. While you do need a dedicated project team, consultants can help you strategically build your team so you select the right subject matter experts with a strong understanding of their particular functional areas.
- Leverage for persuading “the powers that be” – Sometimes, you have a great idea that will save your organization time and money, but you have no decision-making power. ERP consultants can help you build a business case that will convince your boss to invest in digital transformation.
- Cross-functional problem solving – Successful digital transformation requires a focus on business process management throughout the project lifecycle. ERP consultants can collaborate with process owners across departments to understand pain points and facilitate the definition of future state business processes. Sometimes, these meetings are one-on-one. Sometimes, they are cross-functional. In both cases, consultants place a high value on stakeholder input from all functional areas – this includes customers!
The Value of ERP Consultants
Whether you’re hiring a business consultant or ERP consultant, you’ll likely feel a little unnerved about being so humble. However, organizations that are willing to admit their limitations can experience the benefits of third-party guidance, such as objectivity and specialized expertise.
Transforming your processes, people and technology isn’t easy. ERP consultants can reduce the risks inherent to large projects by helping you anticipate common pitfalls. If you wait to hire a consultant until you’ve begun experiencing problems, the damage is much harder to fix.
Our Guide to Choosing an ERP Implementation Partner outlines some of the variables to consider when evaluating ERP consultants.