Top 10 Ways Distributors Can Clear the Dreaded Consultant Hurdle

The countdown is over, the ball has dropped, and the champagne’s been toasted. For your business, however, this is just the beginning of what could be your best year yet!


As you stare down the barrel of 2017, hopeful for a great year, this may just be the perfect time to take stock of where things are and consider leveraging a team of specialists and consultants to take a deeper look at your business processes to find any potential areas of improvement. And while to some this may seem like a very logical and reasonable approach, some view such engagements as a scary endeavor. It is with this skeptical (and sometimes terrified) group in mind that we put together a list of the top 10 ways to clear the dreaded consultant hurdle based on our long history of experience.


  1. Fear not, change is an important part of progress. – The old saying “you’re either green and growing or ripe and rotting” rings true for every business, especially those that work on volume transactions and leverage pennies to make millions, like in the distribution industry. We know that change is inevitable and by bringing in people with expertise in ERP, you are helping to ensure that those changes are by design and not by default.


  1. Allowing for proactive change. – All too often we see businesses falling into the trap of taking a reactive stance toward their systems and processes by only working on the processes that are clearly broken. This perpetuates a cycle of avoiding the root of most problems whereby a proactive approach would allow for unrealized issues to be resolved before disaster strikes.


  1. Resisting the urge to resist. – If you find yourself resisting change or the help that can be provided by consultants, ask yourself why. Figuring out where your resistance comes from, be it a past experience or a perception based on someone else’s experience can help you to enter a consulting arrangement and allowing those concerns to be addressed upfront by those involved.


  1. Cultivating Curiosity – The culture that is established along with that which develops from the top of the management chain can steer a consulting engagement dramatically. Approaching consultants with a sense of curiosity and trying to become the best-informed person you know, allows for others to follow in your footsteps and become more involved and engaged versus feeling that they are being ignored or undervalued in the process.


  1. Bear in mind that technology changes quickly. – In today’s “don’t blink or you’ll miss it” technology world, changes are abundant; and while vendors can do their best to keep you informed of the changes being rolled out, there will always be areas that people who specialize in ERP software can bring to light and help to be leveraged in your environment that may otherwise go overlooked and become a missed opportunity.


  1. Value Beyond a Project. – Consultants sometimes get a bad rap as a cost that only equates to the value provided during their engagement, making them appear to be a large cost spent for a short-term value. Smart consultants, however, take their responsibility to the next level and warrant that they are not only providing value during an implementation or migration but also ensure an appropriate knowledge transfer occurs throughout the process, leaving your team well equipped with the tools and resources they need to provide value long after the consultants leave.


  1. What got you here will not get you there. – Seeing opportunity on the horizon and assuming the systems and processes you have in place will get you to the next level tends to be short-sided and overly frustrating. By taking the time to leverage the experience and expertise of ERP specialists and consultants, you can realize those opportunities with a more strategic approach. In other words, if you can see the long term gain over the short term perceived “pain” of bringing others into the mix, your ability to capitalize on those opportunities can grow exponentially.


  1. Character affects change. – As we all know, and like it or not, people will tend to mirror the behaviors displayed by management. Your character will directly affect the propensity for change and can lead to the enthusiastic promotion of change or the complete resistance of it. Your approach, again, will determine the momentum and potential success of a consulting engagement.


  1. Mirrored success. – Not all consultants are created equal, nor are their missions all the same. Be sure to note what defines their success as you look at engaging with ERP specialists or consultants. Are they willing to dive into the trenches with your team and integrate themselves to work toward your long-term success or are they simply looking to trade knowledge for dollars? Their sense of success should mirror your success in implementing or upgrading your ERP.


  1. Leggo my Ego. – Lastly, let’s address the elephant in the room…ego. Self-pride, reputation, and sometimes status can get in the way of progress or even the openness to potential change. Take a good look in the mirror and understand that bringing in a team of consultants is no more threatening to your position than bringing someone in to redecorate the lobby. Could you do that too? Of course, but there are professionals that are trained in interior design that can create a more inviting atmosphere, and probably in less time and perhaps even under budget versus you doing it on your own.


Finding the right consultants to help you maximize your ERP software can be one of the biggest decisions you make for your company. Being able to overcome these 10 areas should put you on a positive path toward finding a trusted ERP partner to help your long-term growth trajectory and give you the confidence that you’ll be able to move forward with the consultants and specialists that are the best fit for your distribution company.


Here’s to making 2017 your best year yet!



If you’d like to learn more about how NSA can make this your distribution company’s best year ever, please contact us at 516-240-6020 for an initial consultation with one of our many ERP specialists.

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