An ERP consultant is necessary for you if you are planning to move towards ERP software for your organization. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) refers to a type of business software that is used for managing routine business activities such as procurement, accounting, project management, risk management, and compliance, as well as supply chain operations. However, that is not all. An ERP solution suite also offers enterprise performance management software that facilitates predicting, planning, budgeting, and reporting an organization’s financial results.
ERP systems streamline and enable data flow between a multitude of business processes, after removing data redundancy from the shared transactional data collected from several sources, and providing a single source of truth. At present, ERP systems are crucial and indispensable tools for managing tons of businesses in several industries, and an ERP consultant is your best way to figure out all of your initial ERP needs.
What is an ERP system?
An ERP system is an elaborate business solution that enables organizations to conduct routine business activities in a better-informed manner and by consulting a single source of truth. Enterprise resource planning systems are integrated platforms, available either on-premises or in the cloud, that manage both production-based and/or distribution businesses entirely. These systems support complete aspects of manufacturing, human resources, financial management, and supply chain management, and provide transparency into your complete business process.
The right ERP software will streamline all your processes and offer you complete visibility by tracking all your operations such as production, logistics, as well as finances. ERP software and systems support functions across the enterprise, including small businesses and mid-sized businesses. They also enable modifications for your industry.
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How to choose the best ERP business software for your organization
An ERP consultant will help you study the process of choosing an ERP software system wisely for your business needs since they have the responsibility of maintaining the system including all of its implementation, support services, and upgrades. Moreover, besides keeping tabs on the ERP system reviews for different options, here are a few other important factors to consider while making the choice of the right ERP program for your business:
- Size of your business: No single ERP solution is the right fight for organizations of all sizes. While some solutions are specifically designed for larger enterprises, others such as Aquilon better suit small businesses.
- Industry: Some ERP software is specifically designed for a particular industry, therefore pick a solution designed for your industry.
- Key features: Common ERP software features are CRM, sales tools, accounting tools, and HR. Study the key offerings of each shortlisted ERP solution for an informed decision.
- Setup procedure: Before you get rolling, you may require a custom price quote, setting up, and a demo for your shortlisted solutions.
A growing number of businesses are facing the choice of whether to hire an ERP consultant. If you're planning a new ERP implementation or upgrading an existing system, there are many reasons for and against bringing in outside help. Outside help means your ERP consultant may be a contract help, or if you want to keep it within your organization, you can have a dedicated employee fulfill the role of an ERP consultant.
Here's a quick look at the points you should consider before making a final decision on whether to hire an ERP consultant or not.
Pros of hiring an ERP consultant
- Expertise: Since an ERP consultant’s job is to design and refine ERP deployments, ERP consultants generally have greater knowledge and insight than in-house employees — even those who have studied the technology and its various vendors. An expert ERP consultant can quickly assess the reasons for undertaking ERP software, and deploy a tailored environment with minimal disruption to existing operations.
- Better ROI (Return on Investment): An ERP consultant can keep you from wasting time and heading down blind alleys, such as investing in modules and features you don't need or that can be handled better by non-ERP technologies. Since an ERP consultant performs most design and deployment work independently, IT staffers can continue their everyday tasks without being unduly distracted by ERP issues.
- Enhanced training: Most businesses deploying or improving an ERP solution focus on functionality and performance issues, but user training should be another key concern. A good ERP consultant will either bundle the cost of training into the overall deal or offer the service at a reasonable price. While it's always possible to go to a third party for training, the project consultant as your expert ERP consultant is already in-tune with both the goals of ERP software and your organization's needs.
- Extended support: Many ERP consultants provide repair, response, and handholding services that extend beyond the basic vendor tech support. You'll pay a price for these services, but if you rely on your ERP 24/7, the cost will be minimal compared with what you stand to lose if your system shuts down for an extended period of time.
Cons of hiring an ERP consultant
- High cost: As you may have already noticed, ERP consultants aren't cheap. They tend to be more expensive if they are a contract-based expert ERP consultant, but due to the complex nature of the job, even if you assign your own employee the role of an ERP consultant, to make it fair it has to be at a high cost. However, the cost of hiring an ERP consultant also varies with the scope of the project. If a project is simple and straightforward — such as performing a no-frills upgrade — a business may save money by using in-house IT staff. Additionally, most vendors offer some form of free or low-cost support for businesses that decide to handle their own work, so check with the software's supplier before signing with a consultant.
- Getting stuck with a loser: Finding the right ERP consultant is almost as much work as pinpointing the best ERP characteristics or technology. While careful research and reference checks improve the chances of connecting with a qualified and expert ERP consultant, it's still possible to get locked into an unsatisfactory deal with an arrogant, ignorant or lazy partner. Unfortunately, once the contract has been signed, it may be very costly to terminate the deal.
- Biased decisions: Many ERP consultants are either aligned with a specific vendor or prefer a particular company's products. In either case, the ERP consultant will attempt to steer you into a product line that may or may not best match your needs. This can derail you from your organization’s actual goals, and even harm your company’s objectives if you are not looking to expand with the specific vendor. Find out as soon as possible which vendor a prospective ERP consultant favors and then decide whether you can live with that choice. More importantly, don't expect the ERP consultant to serve as a buffer between you and the vendor. If push comes to shove, you'll need a lawyer to play that role.
- Poor communicators: Even if an ERP consultant is skilled, honest, and motivated, he or she may have communication deficiencies that can lead to misunderstandings and missed goals. An ERP consultant or any consultant who can't effectively communicate is of little use to a client who is relying on the individual to understand its business and operational needs. With poor communicators, the client usually ends up with a system that the consultant thinks is best rather than what the company really wants and needs.
Hiring an ERP consultant: what to remember
Any sizable ERP project requires an ERP consultant's input at some stage of the process. Careful research will minimize your business's exposure to the industry's potential drawbacks. Since you cannot live all stages of an ERP without an ERP consultant, it is best to wisely choose one, and let them provide you value for your ERP software. If you are lucky enough to find an expert ERP consultant, they can provide you with industry insights, helping you become a unique company in your industry.