What do ERP consultants actually do?
For a long time, I struggled to explain what is the job of a functional ERP consultant.
I was torn between different options: “Shall I describe the kind of tasks that I execute? Shall I mention the product I am an expert in? Do I list the business processes I am working on?”.
I eventually decided to do a combination of all this, starting by mentioning the benefits an ERP consultant provide to client companies such as streamlined processes, quicker access to key information, real-time view of the overall company activity. Then I go on to explain that I am the critical link between the information systems and the business processes that run on them. Below, I try to tell you with simple words what do ERP consultants actually do.
They are first of all consultants
“A consultant improves its client’s condition.” This is the definition provided by Alan Weiss in his book “The Consulting Bible”. If we go further, to improve a client’s condition, a consultant has to create a body of work that requires an expertise or the use of resources that are not readily available to the client company. As a result of this body of work, the client’s business results are directly or indirectly improved.
They create something out of…something
When you were at school, copying on your neighbour was a punishable offense. When you start consulting, “inspiring” yourself from your colleagues or your own past experiences is the way to go! Consultants are known to not reinvent the wheel but are taught to proactively improve it! During ERP implementations, a consultant will usually call upon a peer’s knowledge on top of his own to come up with appropriate solutions to its clients. That’s how most ERP consultants create something new: by taking existing solutions and add to it both their personal and their client’s flavours.
They stay current with latest business trends
If a consultant limits her- or himself to doing something new with the old, there is a moment where progress will slow down and eventually stagnate. Consultants have to not only be innovative during projects but also keep an eye on what are the latest business trends and how those trends could impact ERP solutions. Nowadays, there is a lot of talk about the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchains, social media, big data and so on. All those trends are proving to be actual disruptions in the ERP market. Consultants have to anticipate how clients can benefit from those. As a result, some consulting companies have created added “digital marketing” or “analytics” solutions within their offerings portfolio.
They transfer knowledge to their clients
Most ERP consulting companies have their own implementation methodology. It centers mostly on the following five stages: scope definition, detailed design of the solution, test of the solution, final preparation and go-live. Great ERP consultants do not only ensure that the solution is properly built for the client but also empower their client counterparts into becoming very proficient with the new ERP system.
They maintain the relationship with their clients
ERP implementation projects are the bread and butter of most consulting companies. That is usually the first business transaction that is contracted with a new client. After the implementation, the relationship does not end there. Different types of agreements may take place between the consultant and the client: a support contract based on specific service level agreements can be signed, software upgrades or business management consulting are all services that the ERP consultant can provide to their clients.
As in any industry, the clients are the lifeblood of the consultant. It’s up to the consultant to keep delivering high value body of work to clients while staying current with the latest trends.