Mistakes made by ERP Consultant

Common Mistakes made by ERP Consultants

The ability of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) consultants to deliver efficient and profitable manner will determine the success or failure of ERP implementation vendors.  Surprisingly, few ERP implementation vendors invest in empowering their consultants with the right skill, knowledge, and ability.

This article discusses the common mistakes made by Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) consultants and suggests ways to avoid them.

What Makes a Good Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Consultant

Before we discuss the common mistakes made by Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) consultants, we need to define what we can consider a good ERP consultant.

For some ERP vendors, a good ERP consultant is the one who generates the most service revenue.  But I will like to argue that a good ERP consultant is the one who delivers a good ERP project with the right solution and achieves the most income with the lowest total long-term costs for the ERP vendor.

To achieve the above results, a good ERP consultant needs to possess the following ability and characteristics:

Analyze User Requirements as Business Process instead of Features and Functions

Enterprise Resource Planning projects are business process projects.  No pure Information Technologies (IT) projects.  Without understanding the business processes and objectives, the reasons, and the purpose of these projects, ERP consultants can best only replicate the existing business process that includes the current non-efficient business processes within the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software.

It is unlikely that they will be able to deliver the project to meet the management objectives if they do not understand the rationales of these business processes.

Continue Learning with Curiosity to Explore

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) consulting career is a tough profession.  There are constant new information, knowledge, and learning required.  If the ERP consultant lacks the curiosity to learn and explore solutions, eventually, he will stop progressing and goes out of date.  So a good ERP consultant has to be naturally a curious learner.

Deliver Solutions with Least Potential Future Issues

Every ERP consultant can suggest customization in their project, but few who have deep knowledge of the software and business process to design solutions without or with minimum customization.

The more customizations for an Enterprise Resouce Planning (ERP) project, the more immediate revenue.  However, overly customized ERP projects stand to overrun their project schedule and budget.  That will follow up by software bugs that disrupt customers’ business and hence unhappy customers.  Many ERP vendors see the benefits of additional revenue from customizations but may not realize the long-term costs and impact of dissatisfied customers on their business.

Deliver Solution Efficiently

Good Enterprise Resouce Planning (ERP) consultants should not only deliver the project to meet the project objectives but also do it efficiently.  ERP consultants should continuously review ways to deliver their services better and with less effort.  Improvement in implementation efficiency will allow ERP consultants to handle more tasks and help the company increase service revenue.  And this can help justify higher remuneration.

Common Mistakes Made by ERP Consultants

After working with various Enterprise Resouce Planning (ERP) consultants for over two decades, I observed the following common mistakes made by Enterprise Resouce Planning (ERP) consultants.

Understand Terms without Understanding Their Meanings

The following event happened in the early 2000s when I was running a training course on “Manufacturing concepts for Enterprise Resource Planning“.  This training session included the explanation of various types of manufacturing concepts applicable to Enterprise Resource Planning.   When I mentioned the Project Manufacturing concept, a consulting team lead was very excited to impress the class that he knew “project manufacturing” is a common term used in discrete manufacturing.  He explained that he had previously implemented discrete manufacturing ERP projects.  And, users in those projects used the word “projects” during the implementation to describe the production orders.  But actually, “Project Manufacturing” is a different topic.  You may like to read my previous article on”Manufacturing ERP” for an explanation of the differences.

It is natural for consultants to map the business processes by matching phrases used by the users with the terms in the Enterprise Resource Planning software.  Sometimes, this can be very wrong.  More confusion can be induced by different ERP software using different terms to describe the same processes. Some Enterprise Resource Planning software uses the word “Job” which other ERPs may refer to as “Production Order” for the same thing.

Understanding the meaning and objectives of the processes is essential to ensure that ERP consultants design the right solution.

Overly Dependent on Customization for Solutioning

If ERP consultants began their career as programmers, it is often natural for them to design their solutions using customizations as their preferred method.

Unless it is the company’s policy to encourage customizations in ERP projects, overly reliance on customization as the solutioning method will lead to the following long-term issues:

  1. Lack of interest in the more detailed understanding of the standard ERP functionalities and configuration.  Such will slow down the growth of the consultants in their ERP knowledge.
  2. Reduce the opportunity to practice workaround solutioning.
  3. Customizations without understanding the standard ERP functionalities often result in bugs and unforeseen issues.  End up with more long-term challenges and non-billable works.

Lack of Understanding of Human Dynamics in ERP Implementation

Enterprise Resource Planning projects heavily depend on user involvement.  Human and user behaviors should be key considerations in ERP implementation.  In my previous ERP implementations, at times, I may not suggest the perfect solutions from the software point of view.  It is especially so when I suspect that the users may not be able to handle the process well.  I may even recommend a business process that retains part of the existing manual work to smoothen the transition process.

Good ERP Consultants need to understand the internal politics and dynamics of the user environment and consider these in their project execution.

Saying “Yes” to All Requests from the Users

I found that some Enterprise Resource Planning Consultants believe that good services mean accommodating all the user requests.  But, some of these requests may not benefit the project and cause issues.

Good ERP consultants should know when to say “No”, how to say “No”, and be willing to say “No” when necessary.

Jumping into Conclusion before Understanding the Full Picture

Sometimes, consultants were impatient, especially when they were under pressure to deliver under a short project duration.  They jumped to conclusions or solutions without gathering sufficient information or listening to the complete story which led to poor solutioning and quality issues.  Even worse, they may already have the configuration and solutions in mind before the start of the business analysis.

This problem may occur to experienced ERP consultants who were overly confident.  The earlier solution and configuration that first come to consultants’ minds may not match the requirement of the overall processes when more information is revealed.

Rushing Work without Sufficient Quality Check

Nearly all Enterprise Resource Planning projects will be tight on budget and timeline.  Too many customizations during the project will make the situation even worse.  And when the timeline is insufficient, consultants will have to rush their work.  And worse still, bypassing vigorous quality checks.

Lack of quality often results in disaster after the project goes live.  When they discover the problems and bugs when data is input into the system, the rectification work will be even more time-consuming and laborious.


The following are some of my recommendations to improve the ability of the Enterprise Resource Planning consultants to minimize their mistakes during project implementation:

Training on Fundamental Knowledge, Not Just Software Training

Most ERP teams focus their training mainly on software functionalities.  But it is equally important to train ERP Consultants on the following knowledge:

Fundamental Concept Training

The ability to communicate effectively and convince the users of the merits of your solution requires strong fundamental concepts.  Companies should train their consultants at least on the following topics at different stages of their consulting careers:

  1. Basic Enterprise Resource Planning Concepts
  2. Inventory Management and Planning Concepts
  3. Basic Manufacturing Concepts

These will provide them with a robust foundation to better understand the functionalities in their Enterprise Resource Planning solution and improve their knowledge when communicating with ERP users.  Without these fundamentals, it will be difficult for ERP consultants to say no to non-appropriate user requests.

Soft-Skill Training

Training such as “How to handle difficult customers”, “Listening Skills”, “Project Management” and “Communication Skills” are valuable knowledge that will help ERP consultants to improve their performance. 

Learning to Pause

Consultants should assume they don’t know enough and learn to hold back decisions until they have gathered all information.  They should avoid discussing solutions when during business analysis sessions.

The interest to continue discovering the software functionality and asking “why” when in doubt are attributes of a good ERP consultant.

Audit and Peer Validation

Formalizing peer validation and solution audit as part of the implementation methodology is beneficial.

Peer validation can be conducted to counter-check configuration and customizations.  In addition, solution audits involving more senior solution architects or consultants to check the quality of the solution, configuration, and setups will improve the quality of the project delivery.

These may appear to take up more resources and time, but ultimately, the savings in the later parts of the project more than justify them. 


Remember that what we do as Enterprise Resource Planning consultants is to achieve the objectives of “Happy Customers, Profitable Project”.  By improving ourselves consistently, we can work towards achieving these objectives.

Learn More about the author, Raymond Yap, and how we can help you.

#erp #erpconsulting #erpimplementation #erpproject #enterpriseresourceplanning #erpconsultingmistakes #erpmistakes #erpconsultant

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