How to Integrate Your Consultant Into Your ERP Team
Third-party resource integration in association with an active ERP implementation, or upgrade can be a thorny issue. On one hand, a line manager has to be mindful of negative impacts on internal ERP team morale, while on the other hand, senior management will undoubtedly want the work done as quickly and cheaply as possible; what’s a leader to do?
Based on my experience, I will be defining three areas of focus that can be leveraged in the case of integrating ERP consulting resources. These suggestions are derived from practicality, but more importantly, successful lessons-learned over time.
By their own nature, ERP consultants tend to operate as highly independent characters rather than establishing themselves as ‘team members’ within an enterprise. There are a number of reasons for this characteristic, but the more accepted view is that these folks ‘have to see a problem without prejudice’ in order to survive. This is unsurprising, as a practical matter, most consulting contracts apply highly draconian progress-based payment codicils in order to get paid.
good ERP consultants usually apply ‘observation’ first, and smart managers accept and prize this value, rather than trying to force a consultant into its employee cadre
Consequently, good ERP consultants usually apply ‘observation’ first, and smart managers accept and prize this value, rather than trying to force a consultant into its employee cadre. In the event, then, a manager should allow the consultant to roam through his group to identify, assess and define strengths and weaknesses before moving on to more practical determinations, thereby providing the manager with a clear view of the information available.
Once a manager receives an ERP consultant’s initial judgment associated with what is, and isn’t going right within an ERP project, the next step is to develop a list of suggested fixes. These should based on what is required, how long they will take, and most importantly, calculating how much the elements will cost the enterprise in terms of time and money.
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This decision-making level is usually the most administrative-laden position on the list, since any suggestions will have to be pushed up through the reporting chain to the supervisory level, typically associated with the senior financial representative, and finally up to the owner or CEO. At this level, the line manager will do well to allow the ERP consultant to do most of the talking, since they will have the best overall view of the ERP project and the relevance of these project changes.
Providing that the ‘suggestion’ level is successfully completed leading to a final set of practical tasks and requirements, good managers typically utilize ERP consultants as the pointy end of the ‘bad news’ continuum. This is also known as the ‘change is happening one way or the other, so get used to it’ model. This application is based on the simple premise that using a third-party to deliver a ‘change order, will impact enterprise team morale least.
Once a decision has been delivered to an internal ERP team, this element can also work to the manager’s advantage by allowing the ERP consultant to take the brunt of a team’s resistance. The key to success with this tactic lies in the quality of work produced by the consultant. If a consultant has done his/her work properly, most team members appreciate rather than resist the help, and everyone goes home happy.
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