5 common misconceptions regarding ERP consultants
In an age where Buzzfeed reigns over the Enquirer, Angies List is a preeminent services resource vetting platform, and Twitter passes for ‘hard news’, old-school business prejudices regarding the value of professional ERP consultants have hardened a bit further.
Today’s ERP consulting professionals are seen to be somewhere between “slip and fall” lawyers and used car salesmen. In more crass terms, they are individuals who can’t hold ‘real jobs’, and instead exist as overly paid business bottom-feeders who’s primary goals are driven by causing as much trouble for enterprise ERP folks as possible.
While I have personally experienced this prejudice, and after nearly 40 years operating as ‘one of those,’ I can tell you that none of those negative goals apply. Instead, and as a matter of principle if nothing else, ERP consultants exist to help rather than hinder companies by attempting to streamline work efficiencies while integrating new technologies.
Recommended Reading: ERP Implementation Guide - 11 steps to success
That said, old thinking dies hard. So while allowing myself to take the liberty of operating in the first-person, I will endeavor to set the record straight regarding a number of the more glaring mis-conceptions.
1. ERP consultants are neither villains nor heros: just practical thinkers
Professional ERP consultants are typically driven to meet or exceed enterprise expectations. Those goals are primarily motivated by a central premise; that if one doesn’t get the job done, it is likely that one will not get paid. While this somewhat cynical view may appear to be as base as it can be, this perspective keeps everyone ‘honest’ given the particular participant’s individual requirements. There’s nothing like screwing up a contract requirement in order to learn the difference between ’good’ and ‘bad – and either way, the client is always ‘right’ in the end.
ERP consultants exist to help rather than hinder companies by attempting to streamline work efficiencies while integrating new technologies.
2. ERP consultants are not professional hatchet men
This belief is generally mythical, although particular clients do use consultants to separate the chaff from the wheat from time to time. Nevertheless, this characteristic is not typically essential to any ERP consultant’s tasks, since these professionals want everyone to do well once a contract is completed successfully.
3. ERP consultants are not overly critical, just more straightforward
Part of this misunderstanding has to do with time over money. In the ERP consultant’s world, getting a project schedule completed on time is central to his/her performance value over time. Part of the upside of having a consultant involved in an ERP implementation or upgrade is to drive a project. Since the consultant is not typically part of the intrinsic fabric of a particular company’s culture, the consultant can say what needs to be said forthrightly, rather than having to be overly sensitive about politics.
4. ERP consultants are not necessarily smarter than the ‘average bear’
Professional ERP consultants are not superhuman, nor are they any smarter than other ERP technologists. However, because they operate outside the boundaries of a particular enterprise’s culture, they do offer the advantage of clear assessment when it comes to judging the value of one ERP project element versus another. This means that the client will usually receive an original and independent input, leading to better decision-making throughout a project term.
5. ERP consultants get paid more money than God, but do less work
These beliefs are some of the biggest misunderstandings in the market. ERP consultants typically operate on the basis of progressive schedules, and once a contract is executed 7 day/70 hour per week servicing is more typical than not. Termination is always at the convenience of the client.
Even though a consultant may appear to be making tons of money, that same consultant may be hammering through a task list, and then suddenly be laid off due to an external business limitation like a spontaneous economic downturn, or changes associated with or instigated by the enterprise management team. On average, professional consultants experience compensation packages commensurate with middle-level ERP line managers, so don’t believe the hype. Looks can be deceiving to the untrained eye and an ERP consultant's hours are long and fraught with tension.
So there you go. Some of the more common mis-understandings associated with professional ERP consultants. As I said, they’re not superhuman, but they can give an enterprise manager an edge on one’s competition if one uses them properly.