You should expect your ERP to provide between 70% and 80% of your process needs out of the box. If you happen to get more you are doing great and ahead of the game. It isn't the fault of the manufacture of your ERP it is the fact that every business has varied processes. Every ERP needs to be tailored to meet the needs of your exact processes and to effectively create the level of automation and optimization that has the greatest impact on your bottom line and your teams morale, and your corporate culture.
When looking at an ERP understand what it takes to modify, or customize the system. Understand the processes, timeframe, and number of companies that can perform the services. Some ERP system have more support partners in the marketplace than others. In manufacturing many systems control those who can support their product, eliminating the benefits of competition in pricing and delivery of needs. Others promote and support partner in the marketplace and rely on them to provide their customer base faster service at affordable prices.
Why would you want to use a consultant over the manufacture, after all who is going to be better at working with and understanding their system than the manufacturer.
The main reason you don't want to use the manufacturer is the very fact that they are the manufacturer. typically you start with an issue with their newest employee starting in support. They have a computer science degree, they understand the framework, but not the real world context in which the system is being used, and why it needs to be modified. Working to get past this level takes time. Next you run into the fact that they don't want to admit faults or issues with their systems, this means they won't necessarily be open about utilizing code or third party products to integrate with the system to solve your problem. I call this Proprietary Protection, you might call it CYA. Last there isn't a sense of urgency, priority falls to their largest clients, smaller projects and smaller clients fall to the side or get placed at the bottom of the pile. Maybe not intentionally, but with new clients needs, implementations, improving development and work on the next generation or version of the system. Needs, requests, and projects get assigned again, to newer developers. People who know how the system works, how the code is written, and how to change it. But not always the why behind it, and rarely with any real world expertise or framework to help you with best practices.
It is the same risk you run when you take your car to a dealership for service, typically it takes three times longer, you pay four times as much, and most times still have the problem only partially resolved. Not always, there are some dealerships who have amazing teams, same with some ERP companies.
That said, you do need to do due diligence on the consultant company. Get an understanding of their history, knowledge, areas of expertise. Request references, a good consultant will be happy to give you several, and often will should give you references who faced similar issues as you are having. There are a lot of developers and coders with years and years of experience writing code. There are far less consultants with both the developer expertise and years of experience in your industry. Make sure they clearly understand your issues, demonstrate and understanding and can provide you with a Statement of Work and a Scope of work, even if you have not written a formal RFQ.
Consultants especially those listed as partners will have the following benefits.
- Faster response time
- Greater Expertise and Knowledge of the Industry
- Better Pricing
- Faster Coding and Delivery Times
- Developers who understand the why to the question, not just the how.
- Years of Expertise
Consultants are also not restrained by the fact they built it, they have no vested interest in you continuing to use that platform, because they can help with that ERP or implement another ERP that could be better for you. This allows completely unbiased assessment of the issue that you are having. It also allows them to make the best recommendation on how to achieve your goal and overcome your challenges and obstacles.
Here is a specific real world example that we have seen played out with four clients in the last 12 months
Days to Contact
RFQ to Discovery (18 Hour Project)
Discovery to Quote
Approved Quote to Start of Project
Project days to Complete
Total Time from Contact to Delivery
4 Business Days
12 Business Days
18 Business Days
42 Business Days
9 Business Days
85 total business days 17-18 weeks 4.25 Months
14 Days stated (average has been 6 Days for last 8 months)
23 Business Days 5 weeks rounded up
Today's marketplace demands fast response time to capture sales, emerging markets, and new opportunities. Most times the manufacturer isn't going to be your best answer to improvement of your system, or having the people in support roles with the level of expertise your company needs. Especially when you are talking about the unique and demanding nature of Manufacturing.