Given that manufacturing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are such an important investment, many companies looking for ERP systems chose consultants to help them with the ERP selection process. They do it for the obvious reason that they don’t do ERP selections all the time (hopefully just once!) and are therefore not experts in the selection of ERP systems. In many cases, this is the logical choice if they are not able to identify system choices through other methods such as industry specificity, word of mouth references or software selection services like the Technology Evaluation Centers.
Vendor Neutral Consulting Firms
When selecting a consulting firm, one consideration that should not be ignored is the “independence” of the consulting firm. By independence, I mean the consulting firm is not associated in any way with the ERP companies to be evaluated and can therefore provide an independent, unbiased evaluation. Many of the consulting firms out there today are somehow affiliated with ERP companies, whether it is as a technology partner or an implementation partner.
I know that there are many consulting firms out there that are affiliated with ERP companies and will still be able to provide solid evaluation assistance and recommend the right ERP solution. However, we at IQMS have seen that in the majority of the cases where the consultants are affiliated with ERP companies, the “independent” selection process ends up with the company selecting the ERP software that the consultants are affiliated with. I call this conflict of interest rather than independent evaluation and I also believe this is a disservice to the client company.
Common ways to get around any conflict of interest is to select consulting firms that are “vendor neutral” with no relationships to ERP companies. If the consulting firms are implementation providers for ERP companies, then I would stay even farther away as no matter how “independent” they are, if their firm makes money off the ERP partnership then they aren’t truly independent.
One of the easiest ways to learn whether your consultant is affiliated with an ERP company is through search engines like Google and Bing. Type in the keywords and see how many times they come up together. If they never or seldom come up together, then they you may get a truly independent ERP evaluation process and you have a much better chance of purchasing an ERP system that meets the needs of your company.