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Read This Before You Hire an ERP Consultant

May 23, 20244 min read

An enterprise resource planning (ERP) software vendor sells you a new platform to manage your business in one system. This new ERP system replaces disconnected, siloed software systems that manage different areas of your business but do not talk to each other.

Yes, an ERP system may, in fact, help you grow your business.

But before you jump into a software project that could upend your business, consider your goal and whether an ERP consultant is properly aligned with that goal.

What Is an ERP Consultant?

The vendor does not hold your hand through the implementation process for the new system they just sold to you. That is the job of an independent ERP consultant.

The vendor may provide a list of recommended consultants you can call. Hopefully those consultants helped other clients like you to install this same ERP software in their growing businesses.

But consultants typically do not stick around after the implementation is complete.


An ERP Consultant Is Transactional Not Relational

Like a real estate broker who sells you a house and moves on to the next home buyer, a consultant sells their service (to implement the ERP system) and moves on to the next small business owner in your current situation.

An ERP consultant is transactional, just like the real estate broker who moves on before a good rain reveals a leaky roof, or cracks appear in the walls because the foundation is shifting in your new home.

The broker might stay in touch via “I just sold this big house in your neighborhood” post cards with a “if you know someone about to sell their house, please give them my phone number” reminder.

The ERP consultant might stay in touch in a similar way.

But you need help from someone relational who has walked in your shoes – an advocate and fellow business owner who comes alongside you, understands you and your business, and works to ensure that you achieve your goal.

Remember - the consultant’s goal is to get paid for installing new software for your business.

Your goal is to replace inefficient, manual processes with streamlined, automated workflows that help you grow your company.


What Happens After the Consultant Leaves?

The consultant’s work ends when the implementation is complete. This is where your (new) job begins.

If the consultant lacks small business operational experience, they may not recognize the best way to configure the new ERP system for your specific business.

If the ERP system requires more extensive technology expertise, you may have to upgrade your staff in multiple departments.

If your staff are not trained properly, they will revert to familiar and inefficient “how we’ve always done it” processes.

The list of negative “If” statements could fill another page or two. Just beware that ERP consultants may not know what they don’t know. And once they get paid, they lack the incentive to ensure that the new system achieves your goal of more efficient operations and financial management.


Your ERP Consultant Should Assess Your Current Processes and Tailor a Unique Solution

Anyone working to improve your company should have a solid understanding of how it currently works, including what are the back office processes that your staff use daily.

Does the potential consultant provide a clear map from point A (current situation) to point B (post-implementation) so you can be confident that they will stick around until your business is running smoothly with the new ERP system?

Does the proposal from your potential consultant include time that you know would be necessary to understand these processes?

Does your potential consultant ask the necessary questions to understand which staff will be most involved with the new system and what those staff already do well and not so well?


Hire a Small Business Advocate Who Is More Than Just a Consultant

Small business operational experience is at least as important as (if not more important than) software expertise.

How your business and your staff work is more critical than the new software interface.

The volume of new customers you can accommodate with the new ERP system is more important than the shiny new dashboard built into it.

Be sure to screen ERP consultants on their understanding of your industry and what you want and need the ERP system to do for you as a small business owner.


How We Can Help You With Your Operational and Financial Inefficiencies

This post might leave you with the impression that I believe ERP consultants are a waste of time and money. I know that for the right small business, a good ERP system and consultant are key to unlocking growth and greater profitability – if the system is implemented properly.

But I have seen clients whose consultants did not understand their business well enough to maximize the outcomes of the new software. And those clients continued in their inefficiencies – they just did so with a new system that was poorly implemented and under-utilized (and expensive).

If you are hesitant, at all, about an ERP implementation or about hiring a consultant to make it happen…tap the brakes.

Consider options that are more cost-effective and less disruptive to your business.

If you would like to discuss alternatives for replacing inefficient, manual processes with streamlined, automated workflows that help you grow your company, here’s how we can help you.

blog author image

Jake Gray

Jake founded Data Make You Smile to helpfellow small business owners get the most out of their existing software systems to grow their companies and postpone or delay an ERP implementation.

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Frequently Asked Questions


How can DMYS help with disconnected software systems and operational inefficiencies stunting growth in my business?

We eliminate manual data entry and automate data capture from these disconnected systems so that you can make better decisions to grow your company.

We help you delay (possibly eliminate) the costly ERP implementation project you’ve been dreading.


What is a "data model"?

A data model captures raw data from multiple sources (software systems, websites, SQL databases, data warehouses, Excel files, CSV files and dozens of other sources) and ties the data together in a relational database.

It allows you to clean, shape, analyze, summarize and present all that data so that it is useful to you, as a business owner, to evaluate your business and make better decisions about how to grow it.


What do you mean by "automations"?

Automation is a fancy word for connections between software systems that move data without human intervention. We use automation technology tools to transfer data between your disconnected software systems so your admin staff don't have to do it by hand.

An example includes connecting to your billing software and its Application Programming Interface (API) to move transaction and timesheet data to your HR/Payroll software, so you can process payroll more quickly, and with fewer admin staff hours to do so.


What do you mean by "business intelligence"?

Business intelligence (BI) is just a fancy category name for tools that turn raw data into information you can use.

You see this information in custom dashboards and reports that highlight changes over time or give you a better understanding of your company's health and performance.

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