Recently, I attended an introductory meeting with a prospect for ERP consulting services. In short, this prospect shared a painful story around implementing and using a system very familiar to me. I know the software works for this prospect's business because our firm has been successful implementing and supporting it for many years for similiar companies. So, what caused this prospect to have an experience very different from the hundreds of happy users I know and with whom I do business?
If the software does not change, the only two variables are the original ERP consultant handling the implementation and training for this prospect and the prospect themselves. There are prospects who have too little regard for business processes, professional services, or automation to correctly implement complex ERP solutions. Usually, they reveal themselves in the discovery and proposal process, and I continue to improve in my ability to steer our firm away from those prospects. That's right, some customers are not good customers for us. What's important is that we approach every prospect as if they have the potential to be an excellent customer, provide a high level of attention and service in the introductory and discovery process, and treat everyone with courtesy and respect whether we win the business or not.
Once we determine the prospect can be the right fit for our firm's services and software, then we must demonstrate to the prospect that we can succeed with them.
How can a prospect identify an ERP consultant with whom they can experience a successful implementation?
I encourage our prospects to look for these key indicators:
- A trusted advisor recommendation - Has the client received a referral to an ERP consultant from a trusted business advisor? This might mean a CPA, an industry peer, or someone with trusted experience and information. Nothing gives one as much comfort as following another who has already been successful. In a blind RFP software selection process, one can rarely get a trusted advisor recommendation in advance; however, prospective clients can still obtain a satisfactory recommendation after identifying the respondents and before investing in the wrong professional service organization.
- Similiar industry or business process experience - Does a prospective ERP consultant have experience either in the client company's industry or within an industry with similiar business processes? It may not be necessary for a consultant to have experience with a direct peer company. It may be enough that they have worked in an industry that has similiar business process automation challenges.
- Credentialed professionals - Does the prospective ERP consulting firm employ certified specialists in either a particular technology or business process? Have they industry experience as a CFO or COO? Have they worked in or been trained by a large consulting firm? Do they have CPAs, MBAs, or other advanced degree holders on staff and able to be assigned to the account?
- Results orientation - Does the prospective ERP consultant speak in terms of desired results? Do they understand the results needed, focus discussions on getting these results, propose prices in terms of results, and offer a guarantee of results? One can evaluate with confidence the higher prices offered by professionals who price, deliver and guarantee results as long as the expected results have been properly articulated and understood.
- Repeatable methodologies - Can the prospective ERP consultant explain the methodology by which they achieve repeatable implementation success? How do they do what they do? Does it make sense? Do I think it will work for me and my company?
The most important decision to be made by a client company with respect to a prospective ERP investment relates more to which firm will implement the technology than to which technology the firm will implement.
The biggest predictor of success or failure of an ERP implementation remains the expertise, experience and methodology of the business partner implementing the new technology.
Included in this is the consulting firm's ability to provide the initial and ongoing training required to make a productive start in the use of the a new business automation tool. To inquire on BTerrell Group's references, experience, credentials, results orientation and methodologies, please don't hesitate to contact us for a free ERP consultation.