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A good Barbershop/stylist is something everyone needs - with SO MUCH choice you'd think that it's easy to find a solid performer, yet so few are able to actually perform the art of styling your hair the way you want it. You find yourself driving across town to your favorite stylist that knows the craft and your preferences well, they also know your birthday, give you coffee while you wait and have beyond belief customer service. Yes - I just compared a NetSuite Consulting Shop to a Barbershop, simply because the barrier to entry is equally low, the market is packed with "experts" and it's also packed with equally pissed off clients that are yet to find their ERP software go-to barber. So here's how you should strictly vet the right-fit ERP software consulting shop to save money, jobs, increase adoption and have an awesome partner relationship. Make sure:
Time to read: 20 min, grab a matcha latte or....an old-fashioned
THEY ARE NETSUITE CERTIFIED
This isn't rocket science, although the barrier to entry to becoming a "consultant" configuring NetSuite is relatively low , ensure that EVERYONE on your project has basic certification. Bonus points if you drill the independent consultants on the project team for their specific knowledge of the module they are assigned to. The value a solid consulting shop brings to clients is that they have experts per multiple modules, ex: you'll be getting someone that only lives and breathes manufacturing, accounting, order management or CRM. Never settle for a team that will assign one "I can do it all" person to a large project.
THEY HAVE A SEASONED PROJECT MANAGEMENT TEAM
ERP software implementation process are notorious for their failure rates, a couple will have already failed by the time you finish reading this post. The key to a successful project is a seasoned, mature and engaging project manager. Do they know SCRUM and PMI Practices? Here's a super high-level list for vetting PMs, if they don't have any of the below skills, pull out the skip turn card:
- The project manager knows PMBOK methodology along with SCRUM and is a stellar communicator. Although this sounds harsh, you really do need experts that can manage expectations, connect with people, deliver on time and know how to control staffing, and they should also know how to adjust to the management methods of the client.
- The PM has 5+ years of experience implementing projects and hopefully at least a year in the same organization, this will ensure he/she is not rocky with internal team cohesion and is well versed with the internal methodology.
- Has the project manager implemented 3+ large implementations within the same firm? Ask specific questions about the challenges and successes of the project. What you're looking for here is to understand that the PM has the breadth of experience working with various clients which will indicate that most likely they'll be successful running your project. Oh, and of course you want someone sociable that can engage any type of crowd, from PE deal teams, marketing teams, to accountants, controllers, and CFOs.
THEY DEDICATE NETSUITE CONSULTANTS TO YOU FOR THAT A-LA-CARTE EXPERIENCE
I'll be blunt with you here - There's a reason why successful Private Equity firms partner with Trajectory Inc, and that's because when you have a multi-million dollar deal on your hands, of which an ERP implementation process is a significant operational chunk, you want expertise, stability, and people you know and can simply call up and talk to when you have questions. What you don't want is to be passed around like a ball from consultant to consultant.
The ERP software firm you choose MUST provide dedicated consulting resourcing to your project. This will ensure someone knows your environment well, is reachable at any time and can optimize the environment based on lessons learned & the history of your account.
Always keep in mind that a consultant is like a Technical Business Analyst. A great ERP consultant will be able to assess your current situation, is comfy saying NO to you if they spot bad practice and challenge your current processes, and is always looking out for you to create stellar optimized ways of running your business.
YOU WON'T BE DIRECTED TO READ THAT "HELP" ARTICLE OR "HOW TO" POST FOR MOST OF YOUR QUESTIONS OR PROBLEMS
Let's get this one straight - clients hire ERP NetSuite Consultants for the purpose of making their life easier via the experience a consultant brings to the table. That experience should be leveraged to make client life easier, better optimized and focused on growth. See below for a quick list of what I believe to be the mandatory value ads that a consulting company should bring to you:
- You make my life easier: When I hire a NetSuite consultant I know what I'm paying for, so for you to be directing me to a help article to solve my issue is simply telling me you're not helping me. Yes, technically I know that reading/ self-learning will teach me how to do something, but that's why I hired you, so that YOU plow through the issues, configuration, migration, integration - sure my team can learn to do that, but if so then what do I need you for?
- You correct my mistakes: Since NetSuite consultants work with so many clients, it's inevitable that they have more experience in various industry verticals. This means that I will always expect you to find common mistakes I've made and anticipate other mistakes/bad practices to educate me and suggest best practices from what you have learned from your experience with other ERP clients.
- You help me grow & suggest the best methods: Your focus isn't on creating more work for yourself to keep billing me, rather, it is on optimizing my business to help me scale and get away from firefighting day to day issues. You should always look out for client's growth and aim for the client to be self-sustaining.
THEY HAVE A PROJECT AND MIGRATION METHODOLOGY AND TEMPLATES
Let's keep this simple - if a consulting shop can't show you basic templates of their project plans, most common/basic UAT cases and migration templates grab the skip train on that shop, there's nothing worse than disorganized management and a lack of methodology.
THEY HAVE A LARGE DEVELOPMENT GROUP
You know what developers are great at? Creating custom stuff and creating the impossible. Not every ERP out of box (OOB) feature will be turn-key to your unique business needs & processes. Working with a consulting company that has a large in-house dev team will save you on more than one occasion since they'll be able to integrate your new ERP software environment with other apps/software which is mandatory for the smooth day to day operations of the business.
THEY CAN BE AT YOUR OFFICE FOR CRITICAL MILESTONES
We live in a globalized world, so proximity no longer matters - however - what does matter is; will your NetSuite consultants be ready to swing by/fly into your office for key dates such as, Requirements, UAT, Demos, and Go Live? If the answer is no, well...there's always another shop to choose from.
THEY ARE NOT PENNY-PINCHERS
I despise penny-pinching, nothing is worse than someone who approaches EVERY conversation with a reminder that you're being billed for every minute of a conversation. What's worse is when nothing was done, no action items nor tangible result was achieved and yet you got billed out of thin air for, well, nothing. Keep in mind that most ERP software consulting shops are billable, however, what you are looking for is someone who is reasonable, has integrity and a straight head on their shoulders to know when the billing is fair vs when not to bill since the value was not added.
Oh... and if a shop is not willing to share hourly reports with you for work performed (in detail), take a pass on them since they're definitely hiding diligence and displaying a lack of organization in more respects than one.
The cost of a NetSuite implementation is near to zero if we compare it with the real benefits in the short, medium and long time. However, a lot of businesses generate more losses from an ERP since they don't actually know how to maximize the value of their ERP system.
THEY HAVE FAST RESPONSE TIMES AND YOU HAVE THEIR CELL NUMBER
Always ensure that you have access to a collaborative ticket system, whether its Native NetSuite, Wrike, JIRA or ZenDesk etc. You should have the ability to input requests for new work, bugs, and modifications. Also - skip the shop that doesn't provide the cells of key people listed below, they clearly want to avoid responsibility:
- Lead Technical Consultant
- Project Manager
- Account Manager
THEY DO IT RIGHT. ALWAYS.
Everyone fucks up eventually, but it's how these mistakes are handled which sets apart the stellar vs the regular NetSuite consulting firms. Have they owned up to it honestly without covering up or ignoring the severity of the mistake? Have they offered you free hours/value-add service to make up for a mistake, or perhaps decided not to charge you for work that was not productive to your business? If the answer is YES, they are a keeper, because well...honesty is hard to find nowadays. Our mantra is to do right by our clients always, why? Because that's what people who love their work do; they add value, stay professional, have humility and always stay reasonable.
THEY DON'T HOLD DATA, SCRIPTS AND DOCUMENTATION HOSTAGE
Apparently, this is a thing, I've taken 42 inbound sales re-implementation calls in the last 4 weeks and you know what 1 of the top 3 complaints are (the other 2 merit full posts)? The consulting shop will not provide the customer with a script library for scripts which the customer PAID them to do - super dumb I know, but it's a thing. So...if the contract remotely implies that any of your paid work will be kept hostage by a consulting firm (because they are trying to retain you), just skip them all together.
THEY KNOW THEY ARE MORE THAN NETSUITE CONSULTANTS, THEY ARE YOUR ERP software CONFIDANTS
Like a good barber & stylist, isn't it awesome when someone knows your team, your working style, likes, dislikes, environment and just seems to know what makes you purr? Yes, it's awesome, now I know that this is almost impossible to gauge when vetting/selecting a shop but some tell-tale signs of a good group that will have a over the moon relationship with you are:
- You simply feel that their people understand the concept of humility and know how to lead a conversation between human beings
- They're willing to travel to chat with you & truly get to know you...on their own time
- They host client appreciation nights & events
- They invest in internal training and their people have personal training budgets
- Their SOW & MSA wordings are clear rather than obtuse and clearly state generous warranty periods ex: for Data Migration, Custom Builds, Scripts etc.
THEY HAVE 2 OR 3 REFERENCES YOU CAN CALL, AND NONE OF THEM IS THEIR UNCLE
Well, the title of this one speaks for itself doesn't it? Find up to 3 references you can call up and chat with...and make sure the references are actual humans that have visible LinkedIn profiles.
THEY ARE CONFIDENT TELLING YOU NO, THEY'LL CHALLENGE YOU AND GROW YOUR KNOWLEDGE
No one likes YES men, especially when you're paying for expertise. So if you ever feel that their salesperson is a "yes we can build that rocket ship and fly to mars with 0 risk" type, politely skip.
So, this wraps up the top criteria I'd suggest you look for when selecting an ERP software consulting shop, should you have a red flag raised with any of these points, skip the shop. I've had the privilege to lead complex & dead simple ERP implementations processes with various companies and these are the top things I'd suggest you watch out for.
If you're looking to get started with a true NetSuite Boutique or simply need to switch partners...we can chat about your needs & if we'd make a great fit. I believe having focus is the path to true expertise, we focus exclusively on NetSuite implementations and have been doing this for 12+ years.
Feel free to give us a shout, we have flexible plans and dedicate people per account, meaning you'll always have someone that knows your environment inside and out, good people doing great work.