Implementing a new ERP system comes with the promise of improved productivity, new efficiency gains, lowered costs and boosted income and profit.
To achieve that outcome, one of the first decisions a company needs to make is whether to use an ERP consultancy or to implement the system directly from a vendor, with assistance from their in-house IT team. But how do you know which is right for you?
We recommend assessing these factors to decide which approach is best for your business.
What is your level of in-house knowledge? Maybe you have staff that are experienced in the selection and deployment of new ERP software. In which case, they will be able to make a software selection based on a thorough assessment of the company’s needs.
But if you don’t have that expertise in-house, or if you don’t know what you want from a system, then the process will take longer and require greater research and input from your teams.
An ERP consultancy can provide the right assistance and guidance to steer you through the process. A consultancy will assess and evaluate your needs, advising on the solutions that meet them best.
They will be able to counsel you on the best approaches, such as pulling together a cross-functional project management team, so that all stakeholders participate in the planning and that the system is fit for purpose – for all users. Often, it’s the Finance or IT department that will initiate a new ERP implementation project. But as ERP solutions manage all aspects of the enterprise, then it’s important to incorporate the needs of those in other departments – like Sales, Marketing, Operations, Purchasing, Customer Support and so on.
An ERP consultancy will understand which systems integrate with each other, as well as how to optimise the configuration of your chosen system.
With a consultancy managing your implementation project, you can have the assurance that they will consider the issues using a 360-degree view. They can assist you with your discovery process, scoping out feature requirements and specifying or redefining workflows and business processes.
Implementing a new ERP system without any prior experience is a steep learning curve. Your chosen ERP consultant can ease this painful process as they have experience from hundreds of implementations and will have worked with others in your industry. By advising on best practices or warning you where others have gone wrong, having an implementation partner can prevent your employees spending lots of time and effort in figuring it out for themselves.
What Is Your Skillset?
It’s important to consider whether your team has the necessary skills to drive the implementation and give the ERP vendor all the relevant information. Working directly with an ERP vendor means having to provide all the features specifications, functionality requirements and data parameters for the project.
If you don’t already have this skillset in-house, then again this is difficult and time-consuming to provide.
Equally, you may require experts with the right skills to develop APIs that will integrate your ERP with other systems. If you have staff that understand how to customise or extend the ERP system you are implementing so that it does exactly what you want of it, then a direct implementation may be right for you.
But if you lack these skills in-house, then an ERP implementation partner will be able to provide that ERP knowledge, expertise of your industry and the qualified staff that are skilled in implementation and development.
What about resources for support? Does your IT department have the expertise to manage the system, tackling any technical issues or implementing changes? If you open a new business, need to add additional currencies, or want to integrate another software system, will they know how to do that?
An ERP partner can manage all this for you. They can also assist with change management too, streamlining the project delivery and averting any issues with user acceptance and adoption. They will also set reasonable timescales for the project and manage the expectations of those in your project implementation team.
Learning how to use a new system can take time. It can often be weeks or months before you fully understand how to get the best out of your new software.
While you can have training on a directly implemented system, it will not be tailored to your company and your precise configurations. Your staff will usually also need to be available en masse for group training sessions.
Training from a consultancy-led implementation will give your staff the chance to get the most out of your new system. The ERP consultancy will provide hands-on, tutor-led, in person training that is tailored to your implementation and your company. As they are the ones who have implemented it and configured it, they will know your system inside-out and will have developed a through understanding of your business. They will also be able to arrange more sessions with smaller numbers of staff, lessening the impact on your teams.
Company Size and Complexity
The final consideration is the size and complexity of your company.
Small companies with a simple set-up – a single site, no subsidiaries, single currency and so on – will find it far easier to manage their own implementations.
But larger companies, with multiple sites, countries and currencies, or with subsidiaries and specialist departments are a different matter.?
These companies have more complex set-ups, requiring additional configurations and greater customisation to ensure that the software meets their needs. This is best done with the help of a specialist ERP consultancy that knows the software well and has encountered these types of company before.
Choosing the right system that can address your issues, then implementing it properly and ensuring user adoption are all critical to the success of an ERP implementation project.
Without sufficient resources, knowledge or skills, a small company cannot expect an easy ride when implementing a new ERP system. There is always the potential for something to go wrong, and with specialist help, they are harder to fix.
Partnering with an ERP consultancy will smooth the process. Drawing on their experience, they can keep the project on track, and apply their understanding and expertise to prevent or overcome the common pitfalls of an ERP project.
Ultimately, a consultancy can help you by managing the risk that is inherent in a project that affects the whole of the company. With their fees hinging on them delivering a successful project, you can have greater assurance that an outsourced implementation will be delivered on time and on budget than if undertaken in-house.
So, what conclusions have you made for you own company? Consultancy-led implementation is an area where NoBlue excels and can help you with your project. With more than 20 years’ experience, we have worked with third-party consultancy firms and directly with businesses. We have a team of project managers and business consultants who will work with to give your business everything it needs. We don’t believe in costly, unnecessary add-ons , so you can trust us with your business software. Let us help you to consider whether a NetSuite solution is right for you. Contact us for more information.