This is the time of year when our clients are either in the midst of ramping up their ERP implementations or are on the verge of selecting an ERP system to implement later in the year. While the ERP selection process is critical to the success of an enterprise software initiative, even the most perfectly aligned software won’t make a bit of difference if it’s not implemented effectively. Since most organizations don’t have the in-house capabilities to handle the associated complexities and risks, they often choose to leverage the expertise of an outside ERP implementation consultant.

There are a number of options to choose from when shopping for third-party assistance. ERP vendors, solo consultants, and large accounting firms all offer implementation services. However, given the high percentage of ERP failures (see our 2011 ERP Report for statistics), it seems that even companies who leverage implemetation consultants are incapable of making their initiatives as successful as planned. Truth be told: Despite all the options in the marketplace, there are only a handful of viable options when you’re looking for genuine expertise.

Here are three things to consider when evaluating potential ERP implementation consultants:

1. Business and ERP expertise. I’ve always thought that deep knowledge of a particular ERP system is the most overrated criteria for choosing an implementation consultant. In fact, I don’t recall the last time I saw an implementation fail because of a lack of software or technical expertise. Since failures are more commonly due to poorly defined business processes, organizations need a consulting firm that not only understands their industry but also business process improvement, and how to drive measurable business improvements from enterprise software. It’s relatively easy to find consultants that can figure out the software; the business skills are harder to find.

2. Robust organizational change management tools. Put simply, an ERP implementation will fail without a proper focus on organizational change management. Even the best business process or software design won’t matter if the staff doesn’t fully understand the new ways of doing business. And software training is just a small component of a robust organizational change methodology. Effective deployments also address stakeholder communications, organizational impact, benefits realization, organizational design, and a multitude of other organizational tools required to make any implementation successful.

3. Independence from your software vendor. Most companies understand the value of an independent consulting firm to facilitate an unbiased ERP evaluation, but independence is just as important during the actual implementation. It may sound counter-intuitive, but how effective can a consultant really be during implementation (or any other stage) if their world centers on one particular software? And what kind of expertise will you get if the consulting firm makes their “real” money on the software license side of the equation? Independent consultants like Panorama, on the other hand, always bring technology-agnostic industry best practices and tools to the table. In addition, we identify ways that other third-party systems might augment your core ERP system regardless of who sells it. This independence not only enables clients to better achieve points the first two points explained above but provides a good insurance policy to executives concerned with mitigating risk and optimizing business benefits.

So whether you’re implementing a Tier I ERP system like SAP or Oracle or a Tier II package like Infor or Microsoft Dynamics, the above items are critical considerations when choosing an ERP implementation partner. Careful analysis of a consultant’s capabilities in these areas will ensure that you manage one of the few ERP implementations that fully succeed and optimize business benefits. Learn more about Panorama’s ERP implementation services here or call us at (720)-515-1ERP to discuss your specific needs.

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