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What is the role of the consultant in ERP vendor selection?

When your company chooses an ERP vendor, an outside consultant can contribute in a number of ways. Here's what a consultant can help drive and what you should handle yourself.

An outside consultant can serve an important role throughout the ERP vendor selection process. For example, they can help guide a number of processes, from which software to select to necessary customizations to how to get the most out of the product.

However, your company should take charge on specific parts of the project.

Here's a brief breakdown of the role of the consultant in ERP vendor selection:

ERP experience. This may be your organization's first ERP or it's been a while since you've chosen one. Your consultant will know about the current ERP market, what to look for in a vendor and what's different about each system.

Product knowledge. A consultant can make sure everything you need is included in your ERP software.

Marketplace knowledge. A consultant may have licensing and implementation prices from past projects.

Recommendation experience. They can help you prepare your recommendation for the people approving the project.

However, the project leader and internal resources should handle certain aspects of the vendor selection process. A consultant may not be privy to internal information and doesn't have organization-specific knowledge.

You'll be the expert on the following aspects of the project:

Culture fit. You'll know best whether an ERP vendor fits your organization's culture. Perhaps a vendor's environmental initiatives align with your company's sustainability goals, or maybe the vendor's stance on social issues doesn't match your company's values.

Team selection. You're most aware of your co-workers' strengths and weaknesses and should decide who's on your project team.

Timeline. You'll know best when ERP software will be needed and whether a particular go-live date is realistic.

Legal requirements. You have experience with the specific legal requirements for your organization and/or industry. You should be the decision-maker.

Executive and sponsor's wishes. You've talked with your executive team and project sponsor and can best communicate what they want from this project. Because of this, you should also take care of price and contract negotiations.

Past company experience. Your contractor is likely working with your company for the first time, while you've learned from your organization's previous large-scale implementations.

Final recommendation. Your consultant will be a valuable part of this process, but you should retain sign-off on ERP software choice.

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