ERP for Small Business Guide Part 2: Choosing a Consultant (updated)
You’ve worked out the kinks and developed a team. Your small business is strong and ready to grow. If you sell a product (vs a service), its probably time to make changes in how you organize your data and sync your devices, production, warehousing, storefronts and/or human beings. Enterprise Resource Planning, or, ERP, presents the opportunity to “pull it all together” into a single, tight system.
In this 5-Part Series, we’ll cover the topics that, if ignored, tend to cause the most hiccups in your small business ERP implementation:
Part 2: Choosing a Consultant
Rule #1: Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover
Several factors need to be considered and implemented for your ERP system to fall perfectly in place. There is no generic solution for all small business types; your entire ERP approach first needs to be customized according to your unique business needs. Selecting the right ERP consultant or guide can play a pivotal role in the seamless integration and implementation of this system.
If your business has less than 50 employees, beware of ERP consulting firms. While the core product is the same, and each ERP firm works differently to yield dissimilar outcomes, the cost of most ERP consulting firms is often weighted to larger implementations. It is easy to justify working with the larger ERP firms, because their experience-set tends to impress, but scrutinize that experience carefully. They may have little to no experience with companies your size.
Will your ERP consulting firm truly understand the culture of your small business? While we don’t rule out the consulting firms, we find that freelance consultants tend to provide the safer bet for SMEs with less than 50 employees.
Look through the experience portfolio of the ERP consultant. How experienced are they? How many successful projects have they handled? If you have multiple warehouses or multiple production lines, make sure they have worked with similar companies in the past. If you have a large mobile fleet, make sure they understand device integration. Nothing beats experience in the successful selection and implementation of the ERP system.
Speaking of experience, did you know that with AcctVantage ERP, your software comes with a built-in consultant? Not only do AcctVantage customers enjoy unlimited USA-based support options, and assistance in configurations and customizations, your account will be supported by a professional who lives and breathes ERP for small business. Since most of our customers have less than 100 employees, AcctVantage comes packaged with the perspective and expertise you need to get your small business ERP implementation running smoothly.
Feedback and References
Can the consultant connect you with their previous customers? If they have nothing to hide, they’ll be more than willing to give you the details of their satisfied clients. Make sure you probe around for the real information. Be extremely careful with any consultant who states their past implementations are confidential.
Details Sharing & Milestone Payments
Is the consultant capable of answering your queries about the project timeline and scope? How long will it be before you are in a position to start using the ERP system?
We’ve often heard that the most successful contractual arrangement for small business ERP consultants is one which pays upon milestone completion. Make sure you cross-check to see if they’re meeting their deadlines, and don’t pay flat retainers that fail to show a material outcome in line with necessary milestones. Also, will your Smallbiz ERP consultant offer training? Read through the agreement carefully to see what will and will not be included in the package.