THE role of the ERP consultants is very familiar to all of us because we have seen many of them in action. The company places its trust in the consultants for the achievement of its business objectives. In fact, it is a better practice that the contract between the company and the consultants should have all the performance clauses in place.
The consultants should guarantee the success of the project and should be able to show results (quantifiable results like reduction in cycle time, increased response time, improved productivity and so on) to the satisfaction of the company management.
Consultants are responsible for administering each of the phase of the implementation so that the required activities occur at the scheduled time and at the desired level of quality and with effective participation of all those who must participate.
For keeping the promises that the consultants have made during the negotiations, they have to transform their approaches and methodologies into detailed work plans. The methodology will have to be converted into tasks and should be allocated to the right people. The time schedule for each phase and each task has to be determined and the project plan has been finalized.
Consultants should value to the project. They bring know-how about the package and about implementation - know-how that is not included in the standard documentation. This practical knowledge is derived from their expertise, which stems from practical experience, because the consultants have seen many projects and have made or seen many mistakes, they can avoid many of the mistakes bound to occur during the implementation period. They will know what will work and what will not. Thus, by eliminating the trial and error method of implementation and doing it right the first time the consultants help in saving huge amounts of money, time and effort.
Consultants should also know how to remain impartial while questioning current company processes in an effort to promote better businesses practices and better implementation results. They should strive to improve the company's business process so that the software package can be used as it was originally intended to, by its developers. Refining the company's processes can only optimize the performance of the system and maximize future user satisfaction.
Consultants are also responsible for analyzing and clearly addressing the customization issues. They must be able to distinguish between the must have and nice to have items and decide on the level of customization. This is an area where the consultants have to use their diplomatic skills, as the company people might want to customize all the aspects.
It is the duty of the consultants to present the advantages and drawbacks of each area and reach a consensus decision, which should also be the right one. Consultants need to position themselves in such a way as to balance their loyalty to the client and the project, with that of defending the package vendor, when such defense is technically correct. This is indeed a very difficult job and that is why consultants are paid such huge amounts for their services.
It is also the duty of the consultants to understand the total context and scope of the envisioned work and to know when to alert the company management about actions and decisions that must be undertaken so that the job will not be compromised and the implementation will not be jeopardized.
Maintaining technical documentation on the project also falls within the duty of the consultants. The consultants will leave once the project is complete, but the knowledge of the project cannot depart with them. So the consultants should create a knowledge base and should train enough people so that the work they have started is continued.
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