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Running a successful company demands efficiency and organization - for this reason, a proper Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is favored by many; however, successful implementation is only achieved by few. To maximize their odds, many businesses look to find a good ERP consultant. 

In this article, I’ll explain the role of an ERP consultant, how they contribute to your bottom line, and how to choose the right one. 

Understanding The Role Of An ERP Consultant

ERP consultants wear many hats, but their central role is to ensure that your ERP system aligns with your business goals. They assess your company's unique requirements, advise on the best-suited ERP solution, manage the implementation, offer training to the workforce, and even provide post-implementation support. They also help minimize risk and maximize return on investment by ensuring that the system is implemented efficiently and effectively.

Diving deeper into their specific roles:

1. Implementation

ERP implementation is not a simple plug-and-play affair. It's a complex process requiring careful planning, strategic project management, and meticulous execution, that takes (on average) at least 6 months to complete. An ERP consultant is involved at every step, from ERP selection through to integration, overseeing the implementation process and training the end users.

For example, if a company wants to transition to a cloud ERP, the ERP consultant evaluates the business systems in place, identifies the most suitable ERP product, and manages the digital transformation. And it's not just about setting up the software. They ensure the business process is optimized to leverage the ERP system's full potential.

2. Ensuring Smooth Change Management

Any ERP project is often met with resistance from employees due to the inevitable changes it brings. An ERP consultant's role is crucial in change management, ensuring a smooth transition for all stakeholders.

Let's say a company is making a shift from a legacy system to a NetSuite ERP solution. The ERP consultant is responsible for addressing concerns, explaining the benefits, and training the users to adapt to the new system. With their excellent communication skills, they can turn the tide of resistance into a wave of acceptance.

3. More Than Just Technical Support

Sure, ERP consultants are well-versed in information technology, but they're not limited to providing technical support. They're the bridge between the ERP providers and your company, ensuring your specific business management needs are met. They could be working on upgrades, ensuring ERP software is up-to-date and adaptable to emerging technologies, or addressing unique requirements, such as customizing the ERP product or integrating it with other management systems.

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4. Meeting Business Objectives

Ultimately, an ERP consultant is a strategic partner in your business journey. They understand your vision, business administration strategies, and potential roadblocks and provide professional services that go beyond the ERP system. With their years of experience and expertise, they ensure your enterprise software serves as an effective tool in achieving your business objectives.

What Is Their Role In Maximizing The Company’s Profits? 

1. Streamlining Operations

ERP systems integrate different aspects of a business – from procurement, production, and sales to human resources and customer relationship management. An ERP consultant helps implement these systems to ensure all parts of a company are communicating efficiently. This operational efficiency can lead to cost savings, reduce errors, and improve productivity, thereby increasing profits.

2. Improving Decision Making 

An ERP consultant helps set up systems that offer real-time data and comprehensive business analytics. These insights enable business leaders to make informed decisions that can enhance profitability. With accurate and timely data, companies can identify profitable opportunities and areas where resources are being wasted.

3. Enhancing Customer Service 

By integrating customer data into one place, ERP systems can improve customer service, leading to increased customer engagement, satisfaction, and, ultimately, loyalty. Happy customers are more likely to make repeat purchases and refer others, driving profits.

4. Reducing Risk

ERP consultants can help businesses navigate potential pitfalls during the ERP implementation process, avoiding costly mistakes and disruptions to business continuity. By ensuring a smooth implementation, ERP consultants can prevent losses related to downtime or operational inefficiencies.

5. Optimizing Resource Use

ERP consultants help businesses utilize resources more effectively by eliminating redundant processes and automating routine tasks. This efficient use of resources can reduce costs and increase output, contributing to profitability.

ERP consultants can set up scalable solutions that grow with the company. As the business expands, a well-implemented ERP system can easily adapt to increased data and more complex processes, ensuring sustained profitability even as the business landscape changes.

A Guide To Choosing An ERP Consultant

Now, the biggest part: Choosing the right ERP consultant for your business. How are you to make sure that the person or organization you choose can actually do the things I’ve outlined above?

Navigating through the selection process can be complex, but I’ve simplified it for you. Here's a handy checklist that will guide you to make an informed decision. Buckle up as I help you identify your perfect ERP consulting partner!

1. Experience and Expertise

ERP consultants should have a robust portfolio demonstrating years of experience across diverse projects. They should be conversant with various ERP systems and should understand the nuances of cloud ERP and on-premises solutions.

2. Communication Skills

An ERP consultant is a translator between your business requirements and the ERP system. Hence, top-notch communication skills are essential. They should be able to understand your needs, explain complex technicalities in simple terms, and effectively train your employees to use the new system.

3. Proven Methodology

A successful ERP consultant follows a proven methodology for ERP implementation. From conducting a thorough analysis of your business needs to managing the project timeline and budget, they should have a systematic approach to steer the implementation process.

4. Client Testimonials

Client testimonials are a reflection of the consultant's work ethic, reliability, and efficiency. A quick look at reviews and ratings can provide insights into their ability to deliver on their promises. A satisfied client is the best advertisement.

The Bottom Line

The question of pricing often comes into play when considering hiring an ERP consultant. It's important to remember that while ERP consultants come with a cost, the return on investment they bring is substantial. Being able to save your time (and associated labor & opportunity costs) by managing the implementation process, reducing operational inefficiencies, improving decision-making capabilities, and increasing revenue are all big buckets that significantly offset the cost.

With their blend of business and technical knowledge, they're indispensable allies, helping your business navigate the complex terrain of ERP software. The role of an ERP consultant is pivotal in today's digital age; much like having the right financial publication in your inbox (pause for effect). 

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By Vidhi Mehta

A Junior Accountant at Black & White Zebra, Vidhi is an ACCA Member with six years of accounting experience.