Whether a key team member is out on extended leave, you’re looking for specific expertise, or you’re in need of more manpower to hit a fast-approaching deadline, an ERP consultant can help keep things moving. The benefits of bringing on an ERP consultant are plenty; they are highly specialized, have vast experience, and don’t come with the overhead of a full-time employee.
But finding qualified, trustworthy, “A-team” consultants can be tricky. You only learn so much from a resume, and let’s be honest—it isn’t unheard of for job seekers to embellish their accomplishments or experience. That’s why the interview is one of the best ways to separate the good from the great. That’s not news, but to find the best-of-the-best you need to make sure you’re asking the right questions.
When looking to hire an ERP consultant, here are the best technical- and qualification-based questions to have on your list.
Top 10 ERP Consultant Interview Questions
1. Which sounds more like you: “take-charge” leader or team player?
The right answer depends on what you think would work best in the role. For example, if your project is an ERP upgrade or implementation, you’ll likely want someone more vocal and leadership-oriented who can guide your team. Alternatively, if you’re looking for someone to fill in for a team member who is on maternity leave, you may be looking for someone to simply fill the role and not ruffle any feathers. Asking this question helps you understand how the consultant works.
2. What is your availability?
Asking a consultant’s availability on an initial interview may seem like jumping the gun, but it’s important to know before getting too far into the weeds. It’s also appropriate to inquire if they are currently engaged in another project, when it is scheduled to wrap up, and how they manage multiple projects at once.
3. What piqued your interest in this project?
The consultant should exhibit genuine interest in the project and be able to provide meaningful feedback to this question. A consultant worth hiring will be interested based on similar past projects, industry expertise, or shared connections. Be wary of those who don’t provide thoughtful answers.
4. How would past managers or clients describe you and your work?
It’s not every day we spout off reasons why we’re awesome, but asking how past managers or clients would describe the consultant offers valuable insight. Listen for anecdotes that highlight their work ethic, professionalism, past performance reviews, and technical skills. If you like what you hear, don’t forget to ask for their professional references’ contact information.
5. Tell me about your experience working on-site/remote.
Consulting on-site and remotely require different skill sets and strengths so you’ll want to make sure the consultant is comfortable working in the determined location. Asking which they prefer and why will give you insight as to how they work and if they will jive with your team. When bringing on a remote ERP consultant, you’ll want to make sure they are available, responsive, and honest. If coming on-site, you’ll want to confirm they are OK with potential travel and are able to adhere to company dress codes, policies, etc.
6. What skills and technical expertise do you have that makes you a good fit for this project?
Depending on the scope of your project, no one consultant may check every box. But by asking this question, you will have a deeper understanding of their experience and expertise—allowing you to better judge their capabilities. Make sure they have sufficient experience in the platform and/or modules your company uses. An ERP consultant who specializes in JD Edwards Financials may not be the best fit for a JD Edwards Supply Chain project, for example.
7. What is your strategy to pass knowledge on to the internal team?
Much like the resistance to see a doctor, ERP consultants are valuable assets but you don’t want to be locked in for life. When hiring an ERP consultant, you’ll want to make sure they perform training throughout the project and effectively pass on knowledge and processes. An effective knowledge transfer strategy ensures internal resources are informed and equipped to handle business critical processes after the consultant leaves, and well into the future.
8. Tell me about a time where something went wrong during a project. What happened and how did you go about solving it?
No one is perfect, and that includes ERP consultants. Although this question can give you a peek into the consultant’s technical abilities, its main purpose is to discover how they handled the mishap. Listen for how and when it was communicated to management, why it happened, and how it was solved. If the consultant can’t seem to think of a time where anything went wrong, or places blame on others, this may be a red flag.
9. ERP changes have downstream effects on business processes. How do you go about managing and optimizing these process changes for users?
Business process improvement, process improvement, or change management. No matter what you call it, a good consultant should not only have the technical know-how for the project at hand, but be able to identify the ways in which businesses processes will change, manage the transition, and communicate to the end users how they will be impacted.
10. How do you stay up to date with current technology, new versions, etc.?
“You’ll always get what you always got if you always do what you’ve always done.” Staying up to date with the latest solutions, advances, and processes is critical in today’s rapidly changing, technology-driven world. In addition to the project you are hiring them for, a consultant should use their knowledge to provide value in innovative ways. Seek someone who actively attends training, conferences, or reads industry publications. If including these questions in your interview, replace generic terms like “ERP training” with your specific platform, i.e. “Kronos Workforce Central training.” Also, use project-specific details to get the most relevant and accurate answers.
4 ERP Consultant Onboarding Tips
1. Set Expectations
The first thing you should do once an ERP consultant comes on board is provide and discuss expectations, milestones, etc. Though probably already agreed upon, having this conversation again will help ensure you’re on the same page. Though it’s easy to assume the consultant knows everything the project entails, it’s best to set expectations early and verbally.
2. Provide Access
Make sure the consultant has access to everything they will need—and knows where to find it. By organizing this information before they arrive, you will demonstrate your company’s commitment to their work. Additionally, because the majority of consultants work on a time and materials basis, you’ll want to make sure they are not wasting valuable time searching for files, data, or any other information. If working on-site, make sure they also have building access, a dedicated computer and/or workstation, internet, etc.
3. Make Introductions
Communication is key for any project, in any industry. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure the consultant is introduced to your internal team and stakeholders. The consultant will likely rely on a variety of people to gather information about the project. If on-site, face-to-face introductions are best, but if the consultant is remote consider hosting a video conference or, at the very least, sending email introductions. It’s also a good idea to create a “cheat sheet” listing out everyone they may need to connect with, their function/how they use the ERP system, contact information, and any other ancillary information you feel is useful.
4. Check In
While it’s tempting to let the ERP consultant do their thing, it’s a smart idea to set (and keep!) regular check-in meetings as they get acclimated. Whether face-to-face, via email, or phone, this is a great opportunity to make sure the project is moving along as planned and to identify any issues as they arise. This also helps to keep the consultant accountable, knowing you will be checking in on a regular basis.
By asking these important questions up front and taking measures to make sure the ERP consultant has a smooth onboarding, you’re setting the project up for success! Are there other questions or onboarding tips that work for you? Let us know on Twitter!
Surety Systems helps Fortune 500 and mid-market clients crush ERP and HCM projects while empowering their internal teams. In a nutshell, we offer unbiased support for five major ERP and HCM software applications: JD Edwards, Infor Lawson, SAP, Kronos, Workday, and Salesforce. Our unique business model places you at the center of every project; our consultants integrate directly with your team, letting you be as hands-on or hands-off as you wish. And because we offer a broad consultant base, we offer both deep technical expertise and strong functional knowledge of specific vertical industries.