Use these Questions to Select the Best Consultant
So, you’ve finally selected the ERP software you’re going to implement, decided where to host it, and convinced everyone in your C-Suite of the long list of benefits that that system will provide your company. It’s all smooth sailing after that, right? Don't get your hopes up just yet.
As we’ve mentioned before on our blog, it’s always a good idea not to go it alone on an enterprise software implementation. A consultant can be a critical resource during a project so you need to be absolutely sure that you are selecting the right one for your project. It’s almost like selecting software all over again! So, how do you go about finding the best consultant for your business and your ERP project? One foolproof method of kick-starting your search is asking the right questions of your candidates to make sure they know what they are doing, can grasp your business quickly and then get on the road to improving it. Here’s 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 with, and a firm grasp of, the industry you work in. While every business will have a unique way of completing tasks, there is still a general framework of departments and tasks that need to be carried out and checked off within that industry. For manufacturing, that process will involve shop floor management, quality assessment, inventory, accounting and sales. Will your consultant understand the best practices in your specific industry, and how to align those with their foundational knowledge in enterprise software? When it comes to a task as complex as an Epicor integration, your Epicor consultant needs to have more than just knowledge of the software; they need to 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. There are multiple considerations an Epicor consultant needs to make when budgeting time and resources for 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 adoption 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 (or you are risking the ever-dreaded failure of your ERP implementation). Members of your project team will need to be diverted away from their current tasks. In other words, what sort of time are you losing during an Epicor implementation that will need to be made up? An Epicor consultant will help you conduct the broad and hands-on review you need to figure out these kinds of costs.
c. Necessary Customizations — The time it takes one company to implement an ERP system will never be the same amount of time it takes a different company, even if they are in the same industry and the same size. Depending on your business processes, your Epicor consultant will need to make specific customizations for your piece of software—you can’t pull a ballpark timeline out of thin air. Instead, you must do a holistic and in-depth model of your business processes to decide what the software will be designed to target and improve. Only then can you really get a data-founded prediction for the time you will be delegating to the software project.
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 into that success) after certain periods of time. Without the numbers, your software project is all talk.
4. Have You Encountered Project Failure Before? What Was Your Response?
An enterprise software implementation is a lengthy, expensive and inherently risky process—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 also not talking about out-and-out failures either—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 the software 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, not just how to implement the software you're using. 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, financials tools, 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 that knows the importance of integrating that system and how to get it done right.
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 or consultant is measured solely on the success of your project. They are there to be a sounding board for all your comments and concerns through 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 someone on the team at Datix today! We have 20 years of enterprise software experience and have earned Epicor Platinum Partner status. We would love to hear about your business' needs and challenges and help you get on the road to solving them with the help of enterprise software.