An enterprise resource planning (ERP) consultant is a contract employee hired to implement, upgrade or support ERP systems that link various aspects of business into one central process. As an independent contractor, an ERP consultant hires out to a variety of businesses that leverage their skills to increase productivity and integrate vendor services. Generally, a consultant's expertise is judged on the breadth of knowledge and skills that he or she possesses and his or her ability to provide strategic advice, organize functions in a business environment and manage technical processes.
ERP systems facilitate business operations via a database that organizes and makes accessible large amounts of data for several business functions, including various areas of management, resource administration, finance, supply and manufacturing. Various businesses use their own internal systems and information technology personnel to handle many of these requirements, and they use components of the ERP platform only for selected functions. Successful ERP consultants are able to adapt to a client company's business processes to determine where ERP systems would be most useful. This allows them to act as bridges between technical teams, existing resource management systems and the new functions adopted with the ERP systems.
People who work as ERP consultants must be able to ensure proper distribution and handling of data while restructuring organizational hierarchies to align with ERP processes and corporate requirements. To accomplish this, a consultant must be able to communicate with users at all levels of the organization. He or she also must be able to instruct or train others and must respond to changes in business process requirements quickly with on-the-go strategies and solutions. It is also vital that any changes made to the business process be completed within the optimal time frame, with minimal cost and minimized risk.
ERP consultant training can be acquired through university-level education or through experience in real-world environments. Most choose relevant fields of study such as information technology, business information systems or management information systems. After the aspiring ERP consultant has earned a degree, additional ERP software training might be required before beginning work with different ERP modules. Online courses can provide additional educational resources, and after the ERP consultant becomes familiar with various ERP systems, the next step is training in diverse platforms. Consultants with a broader knowledge base in more applications have a stronger chance of finding employment.
An ERP consultant might be paid in a variety of ways. Some companies might set their own payment terms, but others might ask the consultant what his or her preference is. Payment can occur on an hourly basis or can be defined as set per-project fees. These fees might be paid up front, at the completion of a job or in periodic increments. Contracts can be renegotiated should the project expand outside the initial scope.