Sometimes when a customer asks you to do something, the correct answer is not “OK!”, but “Why?”
Many people will tell you that the job of a business application implementation consultant is to provide the technical answers – the “how to” that you need to accomplish the task that you have in mind. And that is true, but…that is not always the right thing to do for the customer.
At InterDyn – Artis, we believe that sometimes the greatest value that a consultant can bring is a fresh perspective. As your business environment changes, the amount of data you need to enter into your ERP software system increases, and your customers’ requirements change, it can be very easy to think in terms of continuing the same processes…just in a more complicated form.
Over the years, our consultants have had many requests such as these:
I need the invoice to print on a triplicate form on a dot matrix printer.
I need to make a one-sided entry to adjust the balance in one account.
I need to create a completely new company database and keep the master data in synch with my existing company.
I need this report…often a real need. When the request is for several variations of the same report, however, it is time to take a step back and ask “Why do you need these reports?” and “Who will be using them?” Digging into the problem that really needs to be solved can save the client a lot of time and money. At a minimum, doing so allows you to choose the best reporting option. Sometimes the better answer is to use Analysis Cubes or Excel Report Builder rather than to build several variations of the same report.
I need the invoice to print on a triplicate form on a dot matrix printer. OK, so this example is a little dated. It is relevant, however. It is the consultant’s responsibility to propose alternatives when there is readily available technology that will save the client time and money. For example, this request was so that two copies of an order and one copy of the picking ticket would print on separate colors and be easily identifiable in the warehouse. Our consultant set up Named Printers in MS Dynamics GP to print 2 copies of the order from one tray of a laser printer and one copy of the picking ticket from another tray – each loaded with the correct color of paper. Much less expensive and more reliable than multi-part forms…but achieving the desired result.
I need to make a one-sided entry to adjust the balance in one account. Any time you need to work around the controls in your ERP system, you need to stop and ask “Why?” This kind of request is almost always the tip of the iceberg and as such represents an opportunity to address data or procedural problems that the client may be facing. Never allow your client to take on that type of liability without first understanding the underlying problem and determining what alternatives exist.
I need to create a completely new company database and keep the master data in synch with my existing company. Perhaps…or perhaps a third party product or customization would allow you to keep one company database while applying the controls you need. Understand the reason for a separate company before undertaking the programming or reporting that would be needed to keep everything in synch between the two. Make sure that your client understands his options.
This blog was written by Lisa Suggs. With her 14 years of experience as a Microsoft Certified Consultant at InterDyn Artis, Lisa knows the capabilities of MS Dynamics GP, Management Reporter (replacing FRx Reporter), and MS Forecaster among others. She also has had the advantage of seeing how numerous companies operate so she has a good idea of what works well and what doesn’t. There may be better alternatives that you haven’t considered. In the end, it is your decision…but your consultant needs to ensure that you are making one that is well-informed.
InterDyn Artis, established in 1989, is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner dedicated to the implementation, training and support of the Microsoft Dynamics line of products including Microsoft Dynamics GP (Great Plains), Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SharePoint, and Business Intelligence.
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4 thoughts on “When is the Last Time an ERP Software Consultant Told You No – For Your Own Good?”
I for one would appreciate the consultant telling me that my request is a waste of time or money as I went to him or her because he or she knows more than I do in that area. Otherwise, I'll simply do it my self.
Very true - so many want to bend over backwards for the client to make them happy. But they may end up making the situation worse. And this applies to so much in business, and life in general - when someone asks for a glass of water, it's important to not only help with the water but to find out why they are thirsty in the first place.
nice post. a novel perspective. customers have to be protected from themselves at times. it's the tightrope of giving them what they want versus being firm there necessary.
Excellent blog! I can relate to customer requests/requirements that are non-value-add and go against the key value proposition of ERP. ERP makes for an expensive customer solution.
I have outlined several key principles that should drive ERP implementations. I provide the link for your reference and feedback.
Brett Beaubouef, PMP, CISA