Building Your ERP Team – Part 3 – Independent Consultants

Your ERP team is coming together. In Part 2 of this blog series you assembled a core team that is built for success by taking into consideration their individual competencies and skills, their ability to be team players, and their organizational power and influence.

In Part 3 of this series we will discuss the next ERP staffing moves you should make, focusing on controlling costs and improving the quality of the business processes delivered: independent consultants.

When you break it down, cost overruns in ERP programs are not typically associated with software, hardware, travel, or matters related to internal project sourcing. Cost overruns are normally rooted in paying the system integrator much more than what was planned for in the original agreement. These cost overruns often  occur without penalty to the system integrator as the contract specifically spelled out exceptions for which extra spending is justified.

To understand how this happens you need to look no further than what the system integrator expects from the client:

  • The client will not have deep knowledge of the software and therefore not be fully capable of vetting the talent that will be assigned or the solutions / configurations proposed.
  • The client will not fully appreciate the critical path and resources required to support organizational change and data preparation. This will lead to client driven schedule delays.

A handful of independent consultants should be identified early-on and added before the system integrator is selected. These independent consultants will be considered a part of the client’s team and should be factored into any staffing models provided by your future system integrator.

From my experience, your first supplement of independent consultants should address four specific potential gaps:

1. Functional areas that your business case is most dependent on – clients should supplement their core team with business process and technical expertise to assure the best solution for their company.

2. Data Expertise – the intricacies of data on the design and the ability to prepare for loading have a high potential of landing on the critical path to go-live.

3. Organizational Change Management – along with data, the ability to prepare and train the organization will likely fall on the critical path.

4. Program Oversight – having an unbiased, experienced eye look at the program end-to-end will help identify potential road-blocks well in advance so appropriate risk mitigation and contingency plans can be put in place.

To find the right talent to fill these important positions clients should consider the following criteria:

  • Athletes – these individuals should have multiple implementations under their belts with experience in a significant number of functional areas.
  • Team Players – these individuals need to recognize that they are part of a team and understand that their contributions are necessary to make others successful. This is critical to keep in mind. A number of independent consultants have chosen their paths because they are not team players.
  • Independent Thinkers – you are bringing these individuals on to the team to provide unbiased points of view. They should not be easily dominated by your system integrators nor overly influenced by overbearing users.

There is no question that you will pay a premium for these individuals’ services. However their services are likely to be less expensive than the top talent provided by the system integrator.

In Part 4 of this series we will examine how you should measure and size the participation of your system integrator.

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  1. Felix Delgado

    July 26, 2012

    Great Article!!!!! Part 1,2,3!!!!! looking forward for part 4


    Felix Delgado

  2. Felix Delgado

    July 26, 2012

    Great Article!!!!! Part 1,2,3!!!!! looking foward for part 4


    Felix Delgado