A couple weeks ago, Panorama’s founder and managing partner, Eric Kimberling posted a blog titled, How to Find the ERP Consultant That’s the Best Cultural Fit, where he detailed cultural considerations for choosing an ERP implementation partner. He makes some great points about assessing the proposed partner’s approach, their methodology and business model. These are valid points to consider when choosing a consulting firm for a mission-critical project such as an ERP implementation.
A firm may very well have a “proven methodology,” an “engaged process” or even claim to be ERP Implementation experts. Their references may check out and they may have a professional website that says all of the right things, but what about the individual consultants who will be staffing your project? The boots on the ground? The people who will be moving in, setting up shop and working side-by-side with your employees for months at a time? Shouldn’t you know a little more about them and their cultural fit?
The caliber of a consultant goes beyond their resume.. A consultant may have an entire alphabet behind their name (CPA, CMA, MBA, PMP, CPIM, CSCP), an impressive client list and more degrees than a thermometer in an Arizona summer, but their resume says nothing about how they will fit in once they get on site and start digging in.
For the most part, if a consultant has been in the business for longer than three or four years, they likely have developed a “chameleon” mentality. That is, they can blend in and adapt to the environment in which they are working. They are able to fit in with whatever culture they are dropped into and generally are successful at getting along with their clients. Consultants who do not possess this trait, tend to wash out early. Once in a while, however, the bad eggs manage to hang on and they show up on your project.
We have seen bad habits ranging from the relatively benign over-talkative consultant who rambles on about his or her personal life, past projects, etc., all the way up to and including inappropriate behavior such as overt racism, sexist comments or worse. Often, the annoyances are somewhere in between; perhaps bad hygiene/offensive odors, nose-picking, spending T&E dollars like a drunken sailor or maybe just inappropriate clothing. None of these qualities show up on a resume, but when inserted into your culture for stressful and high-energy projects, these bad habits can derail a successful ERP implementation and cause a project team to lose cohesiveness.
How do you uncover landmines that may be hidden behind a potential partner’s stellar references and long list of qualifications? As mentioned above, insist on a resume from everyone who will be involved on your project – especially those who will be on site. Starting from there, start digging. Google them, check out their Facebook page, their LinkedIn profile and their Twitter accounts. See if you have any contacts in common and reach out to them. Talk to previous clients, not just about the firm but about the consultants who were staffed on the project.
The ERP consulting world is a small one and consultants tend to move a lot and bump into each other at vendor events, other projects, airports and hotels. You may know someone who knows someone who knows them. Ask them about the individual consultants on your project. If it is important enough, find a consultants’ home address and call their neighbors. I know that last one sounds creepy and is borderline stalking, but how important is this to you?
The bottom line is that you want the best people on your project and you want them to play nice with your employees. The best way to ensure this is to do your homework on your consultants.
Written by Nelson Goodreau, Project Manager at Panorama Consulting Solutions