Selecting New ERP – 5 Key Consultant Weaknesses to Avoid

By Mark Engleman, Engleman Associates

ERP software is complicated and difficult for buyers to assess what functions really exist and what constitutes ERP vendor viability. It is even more difficult to arrange favorable initial and ongoing costs and commercial terms for ERP.  Companies purchase new ERP software maybe once a decade or less often—so they are at a disadvantage to ERP sellers that practice their selling trade continually. Therefore it’s no wonder that professional ERP selection advisors became common in the mid-1990 and have existed since. With the proper experience, ERP selection advisory services provide great value to prospective buyers. Unfortunately, most advisors and firms offering this service do not have this experience.

ERP Selection Consultant Weaknesses Top Warning Signs

ERP Product Bias: Sometimes bias is not profit-driven, but simply based on the limited ERP software offerings with which the consultant is familiar. It’s worse when the ERP consultant has some relationship with one or more ERP sellers, or the company offering selection advisory services has a company division that implements a particular ERP.

Long Requirement Questionnaires: Related to ERP software features, typically less than 20 functional objectives will be relevant differentiating factors on a given ERP selection project. Any consulting firm that uses a lengthy checklists of functionality statements or sends out a long questionnaire to collect such data is not only wasting everyone’s time, but quite likely producing questionable results.

Not Expert in High-value Client Business Processes: Many ERP selection and implementation mistakes are made because (1) ERP buyers insist on bringing forward existing business processes that conflict with the ERP’s approach to the process, (2) important functionality being ignored because it’s unfamiliar to the ERP buyer. These factors can illegitimately penalize a candidate ERP. The ERP selection consultant can greatly mitigate such errors being introduced into the selection if they’re well-versed in the client’s high-value operational processes and have these be prominent in the selection project.

Poor Ability to Control ERP Cost Control and Commercial Terms: Most advisors are not skilled in knowing the mechanics of controlling costs and materially improving commercial terms for their clients. In selecting an ERP consultant they need to show a detailed and experienced-based process for controlling costs and commercial terms.

Not Highly Familiar with the Culture and Direction of the ERP Industry:  The consultant who can help a buyer be properly informed must be comprehensively familiar with the ERP industry. Key areas to be knowledgeable are: (1) What constitutes ERP product viability, (2) the reality of ERP in the cloud, (3) surviving and winning in the culture of ERP sales, and (4) where this ERP industry is going.

These screening factors are a big deal to get right.  ERP selected, purchased, and implemented well has a massive value, both financial and strategic, over the typical mediocre ERP project.