ERP consultant. ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning is a proven niche within which a consultant can distinguish him or herself from the myriad of consultants offering services to business. Experience and knowledge in resource planning, process and organizational design can set you apart from your competitors and provide you with the advantage you need to secure highly lucrative projects.
You may already know about ERP consulting and SAP consulting and you may even have a significant proportion of the skills and experience required to consider offering your services as an ERP consultant.
The following information is presented to give you a solid overview of the nature of the ERP consulting role and how you, as an expert consultant, can capitalize on this concept to earn above average compensation.
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What Is ERP?
ERP is the generic name for systems that offer the potential to control and integrate all aspects of a business enterprise, mostly geared to manufacturing and distribution, but applicable to many large organizations, through a series of software modules that manage and interface functions. Having evolved from Manufacturing Resource Planning or MRP, enterprise resource planning encompasses the integration of operations of the entire organization.
What does an ERP System Do?
Typically, an ERP system will include software modules for manufacturing, order entry, accounts receivable and payable, general ledger, purchasing, warehousing, transportation and human resources. It can also include sales, marketing, and distribution. The software is generally offered pre-packaged to interface with a company's existing operational system rather than being specifically custom designed for each client. This provides the advantage of much lower cost and more flexibility.
The benefits of ERP implementation are well understood within the organizations that are the prime prospects for ERP consulting.
A key component of ERP's effectiveness and, hence its appeal, is its speed of implementation and ease of use. Organizations need to minimize down time and disruption while new systems are being implemented. This is where the ERP consultant can demonstrate the benefits of quick installation, rapid adoption and early results.
The realization of substantial organization-wide benefits typically depends on the implementation of multiple components across an end to end process or value chain. Clients that adopt single or limited numbers of components may fail to exploit the full potential of the chosen ERP application. The key initial challenge for the ERP consultant is to Model the business in its future state, complete with the ERP functionality and build the business case that will justify the investment.
What Skills Does The ERP Consultant Need?
As you can imagine from the broad based applications of ERP systems, the ERP consultant needs an equally broad base of understanding of all the elements that comprise the system. Although ERP consulting is a specialized field, there exists within it a need for knowledge of most aspects of a business enterprise as complex as a multi-product manufacturing plant. You need to possess multiple skills to embrace enterprise resource planning. If you have worked in manufacturing, you have many of these skills already.
The technical skills needed to effectively implement ERP into an organization's operations can be obtained from the top software providers themselves. Companies such as Oracle, SAP and Microsoft have collaborated with educational institutions to offer training in ERP software and its applications. Most successful ERP consultants will have spent time either working with a major ERP vendor or have worked in a customer organization where one of these applications has been adopted.
ERP consulting is a specialization in and of itself, and within this niche you can go broad or deep. Consider and approach the opportunity in one of two ways - either become a generalist for which you will need to possess at a high level, a solid understanding of all key elements of the system. This will enable you to assist your client to make effective use of ERP by providing comprehensive solution design and implementation services.
Alternatively, if you have a depth of experience in for example, accounting, human resources, logistics, sales and marketing, or other disciplines, you can easily choose to offer ERP consulting services in one of these specific areas, particularly powerful when working in collaboration with others who have depth in different, but complementary specializations.
What Are The Rewards For The ERP Consultant?
The most obvious reward is being the specialist who provides effective solutions for a client and gets paid highly for it. Another thing to consider is that ERP consultants are highly sought after and their numbers are fewer than companies seeking these experts. Demand exceeds supply and consequently consulting rates are significantly higher than average for ERP consultants.
SAP consulting or PeopleSoft consulting projects are plentiful and companies are willing to pay a premium for these consultants, like you. This will also allows you to spend more time on doing the job rather than spending your time drumming up business.
Compensation levels for an ERP consultant can start in the six figures range and can rise to seven figures or more for larger consulting firms. Depending on the scope of the project and your skills, you can earn $120K net per project as a rookie working solo and up to $250K with a few notches on your belt. In some instances, you can charge a lot more. It all depends upon your circumstances and what you can negotiate. Remember, ERP consultants are in short supply. You can name your own price, within reason, with the right experience and training.
Typically organizations that have the potential to benefit from ERP applications will have global operations and hence an experienced ERP consultant could easily be required to travel extensively through the course of his or her career. Clearly, this could be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on your personal situation!
Who are the lead Vendors in ERP Software?
The leading ERP brands include SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle, Baan and J.D. Edwards. These products represent some of the best solutions in the market and offer substantial opportunity for the delivery of high value ERP consulting services.
There is a brief description and link to the corresponding websites below. Each link opens in a new window.
Browsing these sites is highly educational and gives very clear insight into the commercial potential for adopters of ERP and the consulting professionals who successfully position themselves as leading ERP practitioners.
- SAP ERP
SAP ERP is used in solving managerial data handling and transformation problems for human resources, finance, and other organizational processes in mid-size to large corporations. Part of SAP current marketing is to dispel the myth that SAP is only suitable for very large organizations; the business case for adopting the product can easily be proven for small and medium sized businesses. Learn all about the SAP core offering at their website: SAP.com
- Oracle ERP
Oracle Corporation continues to lead the way in the ERP market with innovative additions to existing ERP software products and process solutions. Through alliances with other companies, Oracle drives the technology in enterprise resource planning. Find out how Oracle works and what they have to offer you, the ERP consultant, at: Oracle.com
- JD Edwards and PeopleSoft ERP
JD Edwards and PeopleSoft have been acquired by Oracle and consequently the brands have been integrated with the Oracle stable of offerings, all clearly presented on Oracle's site. Oracle now offers comprehensive business solutions with the melding of JD Edwards and PeopleSoft's product lines. Discover the specifics of Oracle's product offering at the Oracle website at: JD Edwards / Peoplesoft
ERP consulting is a lucrative niche for the experienced business professional. As you have seen, there are many professions that lend themselves to this specialization. When you consider the growing demand for ERP consultants, the bright future, and the financial rewards, among others, it is apparent that this niche is and will continue to be very attractive.
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