June 4th, 2008
Consultants – can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Majority of today’s software implementations require the need for outside consultants for their technology and industry expertise, but the costs of outside consulting can be a hard pill for top executives to swallow. Engaging consulting experts is a necessary evil in ensuring a successful implementation of your ERP system; however, by outsourcing the design process and leveraging your internal IT resources for testing and implementation, you can effectively utilize the strengths of both factions while lowering your outside consulting costs.
But doing this isn’t as simple as saying good bye to your consultants once process design is complete. Extra steps must be taken by project management to ensure that your internal IT staff are connected and engaged throughout gap analysis, requirements gathering, and process design. If your IT organization is to “take the ball and run”, it’s extremely important that they understand the design and can speak for it long after the consultants have left.
In addition to keeping your resources engaged, they must also be trained or have the experience necessary in carrying out the implementation. An investment in training will better prepare your staff for the implementation activities, while also leading to decreased consulting costs further along the project timeline (not to mention minimizing needs for consulting in future projects). So be ready to supplement some of your cost savings in consulting with additional funding towards training.
Also be ready to conduct a focused knowledge transfer session once gap analysis and process design is complete. It’s obvious that your internal resources will need all the knowledge and know-how to implement the solutions proposed by your outside consultants, so it’s important to execute a formal knowledge transfer session that involves transition of all documentation and related materials. Project metrics should be established that measures the progress and success of the knowledge transfer activities.
By following all these points, you place your IT organization in a position to implement your ERP system independently without extensive involvement of any outside consulting. Keep in mind that while this approach will most definitely minimize the need for any consulting involvement during implementation, it doesn’t eliminate the need. Therefore, it’s important to have a go forward plan established the keeps the lines of communication open between your IT organization and the consultants.
Outsourcing design and insourcing implementation efforts is a model that many businesses, and even some consulting organizations, have embraced. Lexerd Group, an IT consulting firm based in the east coast United States, is one of the first to offer services that are centered on the “outsourcing/insourcing” model. Lexerd Group’s Proof of Concept service offers their clients software expertise, requirements gathering, gap analysis, and solution design, followed by a specialized transition session which transfers process blueprints and a go-forward implementation strategy to their clients.
Read more about Lexerd Group’s unique Proof of Concept consulting services at http://www.lexerdgroup.com/proof-of-concept.