Use these Questions to Select the Best Consultant
So, you’ve selected Epicor as your ERP software vendor and are fixing to embark on your implementation. It’s all smooth sailing from here, right? You might want to pump the brakes. As we’ve mentioned before on our blog, when it comes to software implementation, you don't want to go it alone. Vendors aren't going to provide the support you need to take your implementation to the finish line. A certified ERP consultant can be a critical resource during a project, so you need to be absolutely sure that you are selecting the right one.
How do you go about finding the best consultant for your business and your ERP project? Start by asking candidates the right questions to make sure they know what they are doing and can grasp your business quickly. Here are five essential questions your Epicor consultant should be able to answer.
1. Do You Have Experience With My Industry?
It’s critical that your Epicor consultant has in-depth experience in your industry. While every business will have a unique way of completing tasks, each industry will share a general set of requirements and challenges. Automotive manufacturers, for example, often rely on Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and must comply with specific regulations. Will your consultant understand best practices in your industry and how to align them with your ERP project? When it comes to a task as complex as an Epicor implementation, your consultant needs to have more than just knowledge of the software; they must be able to understand your business processes.
2. How Much Time Do We Have to Devote to Implementation?
This might seem like an intuitive question to ask as you first begin the software implementation and selection process, but it's not as simple as it looks. You need to make sure that an Epicor consultant is incorporating every single aspect of your new system into any time estimation. Fixed fee implementations can be executed rapidly with minimal disruption to your business, but complex projects take a substantial amount of time. There are multiple considerations a consultant must make when budgeting time and resources for an ERP implementation:
a. Implementation Time — How long will the project be, from the hiring of a partner to the time when you will no longer need their daily assistance running Epicor? After all, the go-live date is not the end of your Epicor consultant’s employment. ERP software requires extensive training for all users within your company, and you need to allocate time for any additional snags and holes in your system post go-live, should they pop up.
b. Disruption During Training, Implementation and Go-Live — You also need to ask your Epicor consultant how much time the project will take away from other departments and employees. As mentioned, every employee needs to be trained properly in the use of the system. Members of your project team will also need to be diverted away from some of their regular duties. An Epicor consultant can help you calculate how the project will impact daily schedules while guiding your implementation to minimize this disruption.
c. Necessary Customizations — The time it takes one company to implement an ERP system will never be the same amount of time it takes another company, even if they are in the same industry and the same size. Some SMBs can get what they need from a fast, out-of-the-box implementation. Others will require specific customizations to meet complex business requirements. Your ERP consultant should understand your budget and business processes to tailor the project appropriately to your needs.
3. Can You Show Me Data-Driven Results?
Software vendors and consultants will go on and on about the improvements that enterprise systems can provide your business. They'll promise that with their help, Epicor can streamline business processes, drive revenue and severely cut down costs all at the same time. These vague and sweeping statements may sound nice, but what you need at the end of the day are the cold, hard numbers.
Your consultant needs to be able to present real, data-driven predictions on what your new software can do for your business—it’s the only way you’re going to get the sign-off you need from the executive team and also the only way you'll have benchmarks to measure the success of your project (and your consultant’s input in that success). Without the numbers, your software project is all talk.
4. Have You Encountered Project Mishaps Before? What Was Your Response?
Every Epicor consultant will have experienced setbacks during their time on a project. If a consultant doesn’t recognize or acknowledge hard times they've gone through, this could be a red flag. Are they really being honest with you and learning from past mistakes?
We’re not talking about all-out failures here—they may have had a project go live after the intended date, or implemented a system that did not generate ROI as fast as they had predicted. These shortcomings happen, and they are valuable resources for consultants who recognize them, communicate how they might have happened and then work quickly to solve them. You shouldn’t be looking for a consultant who hasn’t experienced failure in their past (those don’t exist), but one who can own up to them and then demonstrate the knowledge they gained to make sure they can prevent that same mistake from happening again.
5. How Will the Software Integrate Into My Business?
Enterprise software systems are not merely a cherry placed on top of a successful business; they are the icing holding every layer of the cake together. You need to know that your Epicor consultant can integrate every single aspect of your business into the enterprise software and ensure that it can support all the processes you need it to.
Business process modeling is one of the most crucial steps in a software project, and you need to make sure your Epicor consultant has the know-how to do it. If your software is not designed specifically for your company, your employees and the way they do business, you simply aren’t getting what you paid for. You also need to consider any other pieces of crucial software your company is running: CRM, Marketing Automation, eCommerce, etc. Does your consultant have experience with those systems? Do they know the best practices of integration, or are you expecting your new software to take over all the jobs of your old ones? Integration of all your enterprise software could be imperative to your bottom line. You need to make sure you have selected the right software, and then pick the right Epicor consultant who knows how to seamlessly integrate your solutions.
Of course, these are just our favorites of many of those critical, can’t-miss questions that you need to ask before signing a contract with an Epicor consultant. The relationship between consultant and client should always be evolving in a state of feedback, questions and education. After all—the job performance of a software partner, value-added reseller or consultant is measured on the success of your project. They are there to be a sounding board for all your comments and concerns throughout every step of the process.
If you are looking for an Epicor consultant or just some advice to get you started on a new software implementation or upgrade, contact a certified consultant at Datix today! We have over 20 years of enterprise software experience and have earned Epicor Gold Partner status. Our experts are committed to working with manufacturers and distributors from start to finish to elevate their enterprises. Let us know about your pain points, and we'll help you solve them with ERP software.