As we’ve covered in a previous blog post, selecting the right implementation partner for your ERP project is incredibly important. This individual, team or organisation will be your eyes, ears, hands and feet while you’re implementing a core system into your business, and it’s vital that the fit is right and you’re comfortable with their credentials. That being said, once you’ve selected the right partner and built the right team, it would be naive of everyone involved to think that you could leave the doers to it and check back in on them at the end. As self-sufficient as many implementation teams are likely to be, leaving them to their own devices can be dangerous – for them as well as you.
With that in mind, here are some thoughts on how to manage ERP implementation consultants – written by implementation consultants!
Just like your ERP software wouldn’t functional too well without data, neither do ERP consultants. The first and best way to manage and get the most out of your ERP consultants is to feed them with information, and lots of it. Processes, insights, data – you name it, we want it! This can start straight away with your statement of requirements – the document where you set out exactly what you want and need from your ERP software. Once you’ve engaged with your EPR partner, you can make this more specific by turning it into a statement of work – setting out exactly what you want the consultants to be responsible for. Then when everybody is signed up to this, get them in with an initial meeting to feed them with as much information about your business as possible – any ERP consultant worth their salt should drive this anyway – invite them for a day or two day session within your business to talk to relevant individuals and departments and extract as much information as possible. The last thing you want is to be halfway through an ERP project and for a gem to crop up that no one had mentioned, potentially derailing and rerouting the whole project.
Use them wisely
We would hope this goes without saying – but it’s important to think about when you need to use your ERP implementation consultants’ time and when you don’t. They’re a valuable resource, but they often come with the price tag reflective of their value, so optimising their usage is key. Do you need to bring them to HQ for a project meeting? Or can it be a phone call? Do they need to do that data import, or that bit of customisation, or do you have the in-house capability with some additional support from their side? Treat them as a resource, but treat them a premium one – it’s important that they spend time on tasks and conversations that are going to add ost value to a project.
Consider creating a filter
While linking your external ERP resource tightly with your internal teams might seem like a good idea – approach with caution. It’s very important that the project lead or manager has full visibility and some level of control over what the consultant is being asked to do and how they’re spending their time. While you want to avoid putting a block on productivity, you also want to make sure that everyone is aware of the scope of the work, the budgetary impact and the timescale consideration of requesting ad hoc or additional work without the sign off of the wider project team or business. Make both your internal team and your ERP resource aware of this process, and ensure you’ve got a handle on what’s being done when, and how much it’s going to add to your bill!
Keep them close
If the consultant in question isn’t carrying out the actual ERP implementation, this is happening in-house, but they’re providing initial or additional support – remember to keep them in the loop! If you’ve not spoken to them for weeks, or even months, getting them up to speed on a project could take a while, and this is all time they could be spending adding value to your project. As part of the wider project, consider setting up a weekly summary email or monthly conference call or meeting which brings everyone involved in the project onto the same page, including the external ERP consultant. This will not only save valuable time but also ensure everyone has the most accurate and up to date information possible – this could be critical, especially if the consultant is tinkering around in the system and isn’t aware a change has been made or a requirement has shifted.
While a good ERP implementation consultant will be self-sufficient and have a significant amount experience running implementation projects, it’s important as the project lead to stay close to them, and ensuring you’re getting as much value from them as possible. If you would like to discuss an implementation project, or are looking for some support, get in touch.