A recent post from my friend Steve Phillips who runs a great site entitled “Street Smart ERP Blog“. This is a nice complement to the series I just finished on SAP and ERP critical success factors.
Steve Phillips writes:
Having spent the majority of my career in the shoes of a software consultant or client, I have often wondered why many find it necessary to perpetuate the old myths and half-truths regarding the consultant / client relationship. My feeling is given the track record of ERP we are not doing anyone any favors. In fact, we are causing more harm than good by setting false expectations regarding what consultants are, what they are not, and what the client should be doing.
One answer is …the myths are self-perpetuating. That is, consultants want clients to believe them (more billable hours) and clients desperately hope they are true (even though deep down they know better).
The other answer could be consultants actually believe they are super-human and clients play into this by getting the consultants to assume all the project risks. The real answer is …we are all a lot smarter than that.
In this and the next series of blog entries, I explore this topic by addressing each of the fifteen myths. No doubt, some will not like what I have to say. But if we cannot acknowledge the problems, we certainly cannot address them (and for the sake of everyone involved, let’s face it, they really do need to be addressed). Here is the first one.
MYTH #1: “THE SOFTWARE CONSULTANTS WILL MAKE US SUCCESSFUL”
TRUTH: Consultants can educate, suggest and coach but cannot make the client do much of anything. In fact, for most ERP “critical success factors” consultants have no direct authority or control over the outcomes.
There might be a few superhuman consultants out there, but 99.9% of them are not.
Only the client can:
- Own and communicate the business case and drivers for the change.
- Clearly define and communicate their project objectives.
- Implement measurements to support the desired behavior and process changes.
- Approve and contain the project scope.
- Require (not just sell) the cooperation of employees at all levels of the organization.
- Assign the right internal employees to the project team.
- Free-up the required time for those assigned to participate.
- Expect (not hope) the internal team eventually becomes software experts.
- Hire employees with the right skills and knowledge when necessary.
- Manage and utilize outside consultants correctly.
- Hold functional managers and the team accountable for fulfilling their roles
- Make necessary changes in operating paradigms and business processes.
- Limit software mods through justification or changing business processes.
- Remove the people barriers and naysayers that get in the way.
- Tackle project issues and decisions in a timely fashion.
- Take end-user training seriously and require employees to attend.
Again, no matter how great your ERP software or consultants, these are things only the organization can do.
So can your software consultants make you successful?