One of the most frequently asked questions we at Panorama Consulting hear from our clients is, “What is the value of engaging an independent consulting firm to manage our ERP implementation?” After all, the VARs and ERP vendors themselves should know their own software better than anyone, so who better to manage the implementation phase of the ERP project . . . right?
Wrong. The answer and the reason lie in the fact that a successful ERP implementation is much more about carefully blueprinting and strategically optimizing the client’s business processes than it is about configuring the software. Simply stated, the key to ERP success — and the cornerstone to Panorama’s service offering — is to approach the implementation from the point of view that the client’s business processes should drive how the ERP software is configured, not the other way around.
But this approach is not the only differentiator. Indeed, the fiduciary relationship that independent ERP consultants like Panorama have with clients comes into play during both the software selection and implementation phase of an ERP project. The importance of this obligation cannot be overstated. For many organizations, the selection and implementation of an ERP system is the most significant strategic initiative or capital budgeting decision they will make and embark upon in a decade. Given the overall organizational impact of ERP projects, stakeholders need to partner with ERP experts that truly have their best interests in mind. This partnership is of enormous benefit when organizations need trusted counsel on the advantages of a relatively basic configuration versus a full-scale ERP system customization. Asking a VAR or ERP vendor for that kind of advice creates an automatic — and expensive — conflict of interest. Independent consulting firms that are software vendor agnostic and that don’t stand to directly benefit from decisions to spend dollars with a vendor are by far the best choice to serve as a trusted advisor in an ERP implementation.
At the risk of oversimplifying, I will say that almost anyone can manage simple software configuration with ERP application-specific subject matter experts (SMEs), including clients themselves if they really wanted to. However, successful software configuration and successful software implementation are two very different endeavors.
The Secret of ERP Staffing
Want to know one of the best-kept secrets in the ERP industry? We all (ERP vendors, VARs and consulting firms) pull from essentially the same talent pool of ERP system-specific SMEs to configure a specific ERP software application to perform certain business processes in certain ways. These technical resources are commodities readily available to anyone who needs to deploy them. As a result, no matter who is chosen to manage the implementation, ERP system-specific SMEs will be involved. This is not a differentiator nor should it be the basis for hiring one implementation team over another. Need ten SAP, Oracle, Microsoft or insert-ERP-vendor-name-here technical resources to work on your ERP project this month? How about 50? Any of us can have them on your doorstep tomorrow. In fact, ERP staffing is one of Panorama’s core service offerings.
Staffing technical resources on an ERP implementation is not the hard part, nor should it be considered the key to a successful ERP implementation. Properly managing these technical resources is truly the key, whether the technical resources come from the vendor, the VAR or the consulting firm. And proper ERP implementation management, at least from the point of view of a company like Panorama, means that the client is in the driver’s seat throughout the entire project lifecycle.
The Importance of Business Blueprinting
Part of Panorama’s ERP software selection and ERP implementation methodology is to advise our clients to begin the bulk of business process blueprinting even before the final ERP vendor is selected. There are two fundamental reasons we do this: 1.) It shouldn’t matter what ERP system is chosen if the process is truly focused on optimizing the client’s business; and 2.) Investing in business process blueprinting and optimization up front dramatically reduces ERP implementation costs later on in the project. At Panorama Consulting, we are fond of the expression that, “If you don’t have time to do something right the first time, when will you have time to do it again?”
To sum up, the value of engaging an independent ERP consulting firm to not only assist with ERP software selection, but also to manage the ERP implementation is:
- The client’s business processes are ensured to drive the software configuration and not the other way around
- ERP application-specific technical resources are still engaged to work on the project to ensure optimal software configuration
- Proper methodology in business process blueprinting up front during the selection phase of the project saves on costs in the implementation phase of the project
- The client’s best interests are held preeminent throughout the entire project lifecycle — not just during the software selection phase
Independent ERP consultants that are experienced at working in harmony with a multitude of different ERP vendors and VARs, ensure that clients are able maximize the business benefits realization from their ERP implementations. This balanced approach to ERP implementation management is absolutely required to achieve true best practices in ERP software implementation.
Want to learn more about how Panorama can help your organization achieve all of the business benefits possible from it ERP system? Contact our independent ERP experts today.