ERP consulting is a service that is offered by a firm to select, implement and train the employees to use the ERP for relevant business purposes. It basically involves the activities that support the ERP system from scratch to finish. Almost all the firms choose to have consultants to implement and get well-acquainted on ERP systems before they actually start applying the software for practical uses. For this, it is very important that the consultants know their products thoroughly and can offer assistance in a variety of critical situations. By choosing the right consultant, the firm will be able to install and use the ERP within the set timeframe. This will also ensure a smooth business flow when the software goes live. But what makes a good consultant? Here are few of the qualities that a consultant must have to offer better results to the clients.
- Communication skills:
This is very important as the consultant is in constant touch with the clients during all the phases of implementation, training and after support activities. Even while the firm is choosing the ERP consultant will have to be able to explain in detail and convince the firm why the specified ERP is right for them and how it can enhance their business in the long run. With good communication skills the consultant will be able to clear the doubts of the client in detail and will advise on various related aspects too. This will help in building the confidence of the client and they will trust the consultant which is a crucial element for the business. It will also make sure of the fact that the consultant has understood the various concerns that the client has and is able to clear them efficiently. A part of the communication skills also contains the good listening skill. This will help the consultant to understand what the client exactly wants. This will further lead to customised solutions designed to address the concerns raised by the clients. Hence, with good listening and communication, the consultant must be able to offer a smooth implementation and application. A consultant’s job is all about people, dealing with people from different backgrounds and different levels of understanding. Hence people skill is very valuable to a quality consultant.
- Business knowledge:
What good a consultant will be if they don’t have an idea of what the client’s company is into? Without understanding the depth and width of the client’s business, the consultant can offer only superficial solutions which are of no importance or value. A good consultant will first understand the working of the entire industry and then will get the required details of the client’s firm. Then the consultant has to analyse how ERP will boost the company’s performance. Based on personal research and findings, the consultant will have to make an ERP strategy that will ensure that the data transition happens smoothly without missing on key data and other elements. By knowing the business jargons, consultants will be able to understand the business language and can resolve the problems without struggling or wasting any further time in decoding the business terms. The consultant should have a list of questions about the company’s production and associated problems. The ERP should be able to address each of those issues carefully and this responsibility lies with the consultant. Basic questions such as which product brings the highest revenue or which plant is facing issue or the production planning process issue, such things have to understood before dealing them.
When we say experience we don’t mean the specific number of years of expertise that the consultant has. What matters in this section is that the consultant must not just have mere degrees and certifications. That will not help the firm but maybe only build some kind of trust in the ability of the firm initially. It is more important that the consultant has the right set of ideas and knowledge tools to transfer the basics of ERP and implement it rightly. The consultant must also know the software that your firm uses and must accordingly create a suitable plan to synchronise the data. This come only with helpful knowledge and dynamic studies. What you can do is know how good the consultant is and collect the needed feedback. Based on other experiences you can choose the suitable consultant for your firm. Consultants shouldn’t be in a position where they learn the business from the client and set-up ERP where the client struggles with it every day for every transaction they make. The consultant must have complete authority over the ERP and must know it in and out. This will come only if he has spent enough time trying out several options in the ERP by himself.
- Efficient problem solving:
An ERP consultant must love reasoning and offer apt solutions. At time there will be situations which seem quite tricky and an ERP consultant must be able to take up the challenge and never say give up. A highly motivated individual will not just make the problem look achievable but will also add a sense of hope to his co-workers and the management. The consultant is available to the firm right from the stages of data transfer to its application. The data will flow from several departments and will be quite enormous. The consultant must have the ability to use this data to understand the current stand of the business, the strengths and its weaknesses. This will further assist in strategizing a suitable ERP solution that will help the business to perform better and maintain easy track of the entire production system. It must also save the firm time and energy which can be utilised to produce more and make good profits in the end. The best outcomes will ensure a highly efficient ERP system for a long-term. Good technical skills such as software, platforms, database and applications knowledge can enhance the skills of the consultant. It prepares them to deal with challenges with a strong and a deep understanding. This can prove to be beneficial for the company. It acts as an added advantage. So when a firm is hiring a consultant such traits and skills must be specially noted as they can be used further.
- Honesty and ethical values:
Even though these are understood values, it is important that the firm is specific about them. These are fundamental for any kind of business relationship. A company makes a lot of investment while purchasing an ERP. ERP is an expensive tool. The consultant must understand the hard work that goes behind every process and the overall success of the business. An honest consultant will be able to openly tell the firm its flaws and how actually ERP will help. There is not scope for exaggeration. If the consultant lies and convinces the firm that they will overrun their business with unachievable profit margins, it doesn’t hold good. A background verification will save your business from such fraudsters and a lot of money can be saved with this. A quality consultant will deliver what has been agreed to and as promised within a specified time. He must also be available for supporting the people once the implementation is done. Only then he will be known as an ideal consultant.
- Flexible and approachable:
An ERP consultant will face several kinds of issues during the implementation phase. Flexibility will help in keeping an open mind and analysing the issue from several perspectives. This can lead to excellent results and the business will benefit from this. The consultant must be hard working and also must know smart ways of getting things done. If he has a passion towards their work, this will come naturally. An approachable behaviour will make sure that any person who is facing any issue will walk up to the consultant or in case of any tough situation will suggest suitable ideas. All in all if the consultant knows when and where to leave or hold his ego, he can work in a fantastic way. Time management is another skill that must be followed religiously by the consultants. By respecting time, the entire process of training and implementation can be done as per the agreed schedule and will not affect the production process much. Though there will be several challenges the consultant must have the skill and the patience to smoothen out and streamline the processes.
Choosing the right consultant will save you from adverse effects of fraud. It will save your business from any kind of disruption. An ERP implementation must be thoroughly planned by the consultant and the training modules must be equally clear. This schedule is an evidence as to how much authority the consultant has over ERP. The firm’s management must dedicate some time to select the right candidate and if they feel he /she is unsuitable, then they must be immediately disconnected. An ideal consultant otherwise must be appreciated for the efforts and the time that they spend on your firm.