Sep 18, 2014

7 Habits of Highly Effective ERP Consultants

During my 16 year long career in ERP, I have had the occasion to work with many consultants. Some of them were excellent. I have seen that excellent ERP consultants have some characteristics in common. Here are seven habits that I have seen excellent consultants exhibit.

1.They always provide options: An ERP Application is very versatile. It has many features which, used properly, can provide multiple options for the handling customer’s requirement. To handle any customer requirement, a good ERP Consultant will provide multiple options (at least 3) explaining the advantages and disadvantages of each option. Along with that they will provide their recommendations. This forces the customer to get involved in the solutioning and increases the acceptability of the solution. The beauty of this approach is that this doubles up as initial high-level feature training as well. It also helps customer team to be involved in solutioning very early in the cycle and this has its own advantages (as mentioned here). Soon it is seen that the customer starts providing ideas and inputs and overall solutioning becomes much stronger as a result.

2. They are great listeners: Exceptional consultants know that many a time, important requirements are mentioned as asides. Their antennae is always up to receive such ‘Non-critically mentioned’ ‘Critical Information’. They make notes of such requirements and ensure that it is included as a part of the solution. During solution presentation they make it a point to cross-reference the solution to the initial requirement mentioned by the customer (at the Coffee Corner).

3. They always Clarify, Clarify and Clarify: Exceptional consultants do not make any assumptions about the current situation based on their past experience. They understand that each customer is different from another and even when they are in the same industry, their requirements will be different. They also understand that a customer requirement will normally be stated as a ‘Position’ but behind the ‘Position’ there will be an ‘Issue’. For example, the Customer’s position will be stated as ‘I want Store Wise Trial Balance’, but their ‘Issue’ is they want ‘Store wise Profitability Information’. Good consultants know that to get the correct answer, they must ask the correct questions. They clarify till both they and the customer are on the same page.

4. They are good at documentation: Exceptional consultants know that the work is ephemeral where as the documents are eternal. They consider documentation a pleasurable job and are always looking for ways to improve the quality of the documented deliverable. Their documentation tend to stand out from that of the rest.

5. They seek win-win solutions: Exceptional consultants focus on Win-win. They test the solution till all the requirements are met, they do a lot of exception testing to ensure that user errors are handled effectively, they stretch themselves to support the customer, they patiently handle conflicts, they readily accept their mistakes, they involve the customer in key configuration decisions and they explain their decisions to the customer team member. Exceptional consultants know that an ERP Implementation is successful only when the customer team members are fully satisfied of the solutions provided.

6. They love training: Training and communication is in the blood of Exceptional Consultants. They find formal and informal opportunities to train the team. They don’t wait for scheduled window to offer training. Any issue raised by the user is an opportunity for them to explain the end to end process leading up to the issue. Every time they explain a solution to the customer, they set the context. They will explain the original requirement, for example. They will show the configurations done in the system. They will explain the options considered and the assumptions made. Finally they will show what went wrong with the current transaction and why this happened. In place of 5 minutes taken for resolving the issue, they may take 30 minutes to set the context. But the customer is more evolved and more knowledgeable at the end of those 30 minutes.  


7. They are good at Closure: An exceptional consultant knows that it is very easy to complete 85% of a task, but the remaining 15% takes a lot of effort to complete. They take special care to follow up, escalate (Good Consultants rarely escalate), resolve queries, provide clarifications and lead the customer to sign off and closure rather than demand that the customer sign off on the deliverable or project. They know that customer wants closure as much as him / her and that forcing and escalating will not get him/her the kind of win-win that they demand from the project.

That's it. That is my list. What is yours?

About Me: I am ERP Implementation specialist with over 16 years of implementation experience with expertise in End to end ERP Implementations. I  focus on ERP Implementation Consulting and Advisory Services. While my key areas of expertise are ERP Architecting, Financials and Costing, I have implementation experience in all the core business areas including Supply Chain, Manufacturing and Distribution. My personal vision is to help SME Sector in India become globally competitive through the use of IT,  especially ERP.  I come with a powerful mix of domain knowledge (10 Years), Academia (2 Years) and ERP Implementation expertise (15 Years and running). I am one of the few ERP consultants in India who can provide an integrated view of ERP Implementation including account and costing aspects of India Taxation.

If you are planning to implement ERP, or are in the middle of ERP Implementation, please get in touch with me. I could help you make your ERP Implementation highly successful.

I can be reached by email vkrama01@gmail.com, or through twitter @vkrama01. You could also check out my ERP Blog for additional material on ERP.

5 comments:

ANAND NIKAM said...

Hi,
Very interesting, informative and well structured post it was. Enjoyed reading it!
In continuation to above post I think an effective consultant very well understands that its not about B2B or B2C its about H2H (Human 2 Human). A qualified consultant always focuses on helping the person sitting next to him as a client, take right decision at right time, by providing real time technology options satisfying his implicit and explicit business needs.

This was from my side. :)
Ll be looking for more interesting posts here...

Thanks
Anand Nikam.

Ramaswamy V Krishnamurti said...

Anand, I agree to your points. Your point about 'Implicit' needs is well made. Many a time, what customer says and what they want turn out to be different. By asking correct questions, a good consultant will tunn the 'Implicit' to 'Explicit'.

Payroll Consulting Services, said...

ACtually it was really good points you say.. keep it up

Prajakta Patil said...

Great post! You have explained the points in very simple and easy manner. Thanks for sharing :)
ERP software

Ramaswamy V Krishnamurti said...

Thank you Prajakta Patil for your kind words...
Ram