Over the years, the Panorama Consulting team has helped the world’s leading organizations manage their ERP implementation projects. Our experience base and lessons learned span clients as diverse as an oil and gas company in the middle east, a global financial services firm based in the eastern US, a medical device manufacturer in the Asia Pacific, and close to 200 other organizations we’ve worked with since 2005.

Before these companies hire us to help with their ERP implementation, they often consider other options as well. There are a number of things that make ERP implementations at manufacturing organizations unique, so it is important to find the right consultant that understands the complexities and nuances of a manufacturing ERP implementation.

According to the various clients we’ve worked with over the years, below are a handful of variables that help manufacturers and distributors find the right manufacturing ERP consultant:

Innovation in best practices and methodologies. There are plenty of ERP consultants out there that talk a good game. For example, many will point to their extensive manufacturing experience but industry experience doesn’t typically translate to ERP implementation experience in that industry. In addition, ERP consultants that have extensive implementation experience are also typically the ones that have contributed to the industry’s extremely high failure rates. While industry and ERP experience are both commodities that are subjective, innovative methods and best practices are hard to create, hard to define and extremely effective. Rather than relying on the knowledge or experience of a handful of people, best practices and repeatable methodologies can consolidate the lessons from thousands of man-years of ERP implementation experience into a single approach. For example, Panorama’s PERFECT Fit ERP selection approach and PERFECT Path ERP implementation methodology is based on proven results from nearly 200 clients across the globe.

Experience with the entire ERP implementation lifecycle. Speaking of implementation, good manufacturing ERP consultants have experience with everything from software selection through implementation, project management, business process reengineering and organizational change management. When we started in 2005, we were essentially the only independent ERP software selection consulting firm in the U.S. Competitors have tried to replicate our business model in recent years by offering independent ERP selection services but none are able to stay independent and provide full lifecycle ERP implementation support at the same time. This is important for a number of reasons. First, consultants that have hands-on implementation experience are better able to help select the right software for your organization. Second, most of our clients want a single “throat to choke” for the entire implementation rather than having to rely on multiple consultants for selection, project management and functional/technical expertise. Regardless of what software our clients choose, they know that Panorama will be able to provide a single source of ERP implementation support.

Hands-on experience with multiple ERP vendors. Good ERP consultants can provide a single source of support when they have hands-on experience with all the leading ERP vendors. However, most consultants are aligned with one or just a few ERP vendors, or if they aren’t, they only know one or two software solutions well. The success of your ERP implementation shouldn’t be based on the limitations and biases of your ERP consultant so it is important to find one that has experience with the dozens of leading Tier I and Tier II ERP vendors. Although most ERP consulting firms can provide the service, it’s not reasonable to expect that your consultant be independent enough to help you select the right ERP system, hands-on enough to have experience implementing whatever system you might choose, and have experience with your industry – all at the same time. Panorama’s size, experience in key industries (such as manufacturing), and access to the world’s best technical and functional resources for all of the leading ERP vendors allow us to meet these expectations for our clients.

Experience with other industries outside of manufacturing. While manufacturing experience is certainly important so too is experience with best practices in other industries. For example, we have helped manufacturing clients leverage financial planning best practices from some of our financial services clients. Other manufacturing clients have leveraged our quality assurance and regulatory compliance experience important to our health care clients. Whatever improvements you are trying to make to your business, it is important not to be too myopically focused on your own industry without considering some of the lessons and proven practices from others. Similarly, even smaller manufacturing organizations should consider best practices from bigger organizations and vice versa.

Cultural fit. Finally, cultural fit is also a very important consideration. While it may feel good to hire people similar to your experience and background, it is also important to look at diversity and filling in your team’s blind spots as well. At the end of the day, having a consulting team that you like being around, feel comfortable with and trust to have your back while in the trenches of an ERP implementation is just as important as the more skill-based traits listed above. The best way to gauge this is to get to know the team that will be delivering the work for you – ideally in-person before signing a contract. Our clients hire us not only because we are the world’s leading independent ERP consultants but also because they simply like our team and our people.

These are just a few of the criteria that should help you find the right ERP consultant for your manufacturing organization. Many of these variables apply even if you are not a manufacturer or distributor. ERP consulting firms may seem like a dime a dozen but the right ones will deliver much more benefit than cost – and they will make your life much less painful along the way. Learn more downloading our 2014 Manufacturing ERP Report and watching our related on-demand webinar.

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