Are 3rd Party Consultants Needed for ERP Implementation?
Photo courtesy Christina Wocintechchat

Recently, Accenture announced the Acquisition of ThinkTank (1), a Denver, Colorado-based company known for its enterprise software project management platform. ThinkTank’s platform will be enfolded into Accenture’s myConcerto technology portfolio, in order to speed deployments involving Adobe, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP and Workday applications. The question arises: why is an enterprise software project management platform necessary? 

Accenture says “ThinkTank…will be a natural extension of myConcerto, helping clients to better engage across stakeholder groups and digitize design and agile planning programs.” And ThinkTank adds “The…platform spurs better alignment and decision-making during complex enterprise business and technology transformations.”

So, this is all about buy-in from ERP stakeholders. But the question remains, why can’t the software manufacturers (Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, etc.), along with their implementation partners, get this same level of stakeholder buy-in? Well, anyone who has participated in an ERP implementation of any size knows the importance of management engagement. Executive buy-in ensures the ERP project aligns with an organization’s business goals, and ultimately in satisfaction with the ERP project. But this kind of engagement from upper management is difficult for a software vendor to attain and hold throughout the implementation process.

The Panorama Consulting Group’s 2021 ERP Report (2), sheds some light on this situation. First, take into consideration customer satisfaction with their ERP.

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What’s striking about this finding, is that only 44.8% of respondents were “satisfied” with their ERP. When you consider the time, resources and disruption associated with an ERP implementation – 44.8% satisfaction is really disappointing. Management engagement is important, not only to ensure that the project aligns with business goals – but to prepare the organization for change. The new system will require behavioral change on the part of just about everyone in the organization. There will be process change, organizational change, and of course technical change. In the same 2021 Panorama survey, respondents who implemented an ERP system in the last year were asked the level of “difficulty” involved in process, organization and technical change required for successful ERP deployment.

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The ERP implementing partner will know the “nuts and bolts” of constructing the system – meeting requirements, managing budget and timelines. But effecting meaningful cultural change in the organization, especially “process change” and “organizational change” must come from top management and this is where the consultant or consultant team comes into play. They can impress upon management the importance and difficulty associated with this kind of change, and prepare for the ERP’s impact on the organization

Ordinarily, you would expect the manufacturer’s implementation partner to be aggrieved to have to work with a third-party consultant on an ERP project. But the task of insisting on management engagement, to prepare the user organization for this cultural change, is not in the software manufacturer/VAR’s wheelhouse. As an Odoo ERP Partner, Ontash has worked with, and without consultants. 

Smaller Tier II or Tier III organizations (around $50M+ in annual revenues) might need just a single trusted consultant. And there are instances, where a third party is not needed at all. Specifically, when the ERP implementation is not expected to create a technical or cultural challenge. For example, Ontash is in the final stages of building an Odoo ERP for Connex Information Technologies – an IT distributor focused on technology. The organization is obviously comfortable with technology. It’s their business. Connex merely had to identify an ERP platform that would meet their requirements.

“We looked at several ERP softwares, and finally narrowed our focus onto Odoo…it’s fully capable, friendly and flexible. When we looked for an Odoo implementation partner, we found Ontash, with an office right here in Colombo…it’s been a friendly, collaborative process from the beginning. We couldn’t be happier.”

-       Patrick Yogaratnam, CFO, Connex Information Technologies, PVT. LTD.

In a recent conversation with Patrick, he mentioned that in previous lives, he has been involved in several large software implementations that absolutely needed  3rd Party Consultants. “It just depends on the organization…how much the new software will shock the system. And how much the organization needs to prepare for life after ERP”

(1)   CHANELe2e(sm), May 4, 2021

(2)   2021 ERP Report, Panorama Consulting Group