When you think about it, the same qualities that make someone an effective escape room buddy are also extremely useful in an ERP consultant. As someone who both enjoys escape rooms (I should point out that I have never failed to escape) and regularly writes about ERP consulting, I’ll tell you that the parallels are clear. Both escape room buddies and ERP consultants need to have strong communication skills, the ability to solve problems creatively, work as team players, demonstrate incredible focus, and have great time management skills.
Escape Room Skills = ERP Consultant Skills
In case you’re not familiar with the trendy new form of entertainment, escape rooms are rooms that you and your companions have a limited amount of time to (you guessed it) escape from. In just the past four years, the number of escape room companies in the US has skyrocketed from 22 to roughly 2,000. The rooms are filled with puzzles, and with a ticking clock, the pressure to solve them can make them quite tricky.
I recently did one myself (escaping with the 2nd-fastest time ever, may I add), so I like I said before, I know a bit about escape rooms and what it takes to succeed at them. My room was themed as a “Jungle Escape Game”—essentially Jumanji with the serial numbers filed off—and contained a host of animal-themed decorations, a massive board game that lit up as you moved the pieces in the right order, a wooden crate that also functioned as a labyrinth, and more. While the themes of escape rooms always differ, the essentials remain the same: they are complicated puzzles that need to be completed before time runs out. When you think about them that way, that description fits most ERP projects, too.
That’s why, when you’re thinking about hiring your next ERP consultant, think about how well they’d serve as an escape room buddy, focusing on the following qualities…
Communication is Key
If you’re bringing someone onto your team to solve a tricky problem, you need to be able to communicate clearly with them, whether you’re desperately trying to solve a monkey-related riddle or the best way to implement a new security authentication service. Just as everyone in an escape room relies on getting information to and from each other to escape the room in time, clear communication is vital when working on any ERP project. Don’t forget that author and communication expert Debra Hamilton pointed out in her article, “Top Ten Email Blunders that Cost Companies Money,” that miscommunications cost 100-employee companies an average of $420,000 each year.
Avoiding miscommunications can save you not only frustration but a considerable amount of money, as well.
Creative Problem-Solvers Wanted
Lateral thinking is also incredibly important. When your teammates come up against a puzzle they’ve not encountered before, do they get frustrated and give up? Do they abandon the problem and leave it for someone else to solve? Or do they start coming up with out-of-the-box ideas? Whether your escape room throws you for a loop (Where the heck is that Rhino-related clue leading you?!) or you’re facing an unexpected issue with an ERP project, you need to ensure that the people in your corner won’t leave you high and dry when the going gets tough. Lateral thinking is a vital skill in almost any position, ERP consultants included.
As innovation and creativity speaker Paul Sloane says in his new book, How to be a Brilliant Thinker: Exercise Your Mind & Find Creative Solutions, “In conventional thinking, we go forward in a predictable, direct fashion. Lateral thinking involves coming at the problem from new directions – literally, from the side.” So at your company, you may have a set way of handling a certain type of problem or upgrade with your software. Add in a new ERP consultant with lateral thinking skills, however, and you get a fresh set of eyes as well as other ways of accessing your system, allowing you to attack your technology issues from another angle.
Team Players, Please
Sure, consultants are sometimes solitary creatures, but if you have the option of picking someone personable for your team or a complete curmudgeon, most of us are going to go with option #1, right? An ERP consultant (or an escape room buddy) that’s a team player will be able to coordinate with others well, anticipate needs, and not only has the ability to ensure that other people get the information and the resources that they need to succeed, but will actually want to use that ability. It also helps if they’re the type of person you’d go to an after-work event with. (Maybe an escape room…?) Plus, consultants that are real team players will do what’s best for you as their client, as opposed to their firm’s bottom line.
Keep in mind that, according to Onedesk.com, a full fifth of employees’ time is spent tracking down internal documentation or getting ahold of colleague for help. Your next ERP consultant (or escape room buddy) should be proactive about getting you and your employees what they need to do their jobs, whether that’s documentation on how your company’s new database will work or the solution to that crocodile-shaped puzzle you’ve been working on for the last ten minutes.
Laser Focus Needed
You don’t want somebody who half-completes a bunch of puzzles, leaving you to waste time getting up to speed where they left off. You need to be able to count on them to do what you need them to and to get it done. In the same way, you don’t want to invite someone to work for your company only to find they get off-topic all the time or leave “breadcrumbs” behind to give themselves future work. An excellent ERP consultant knows what needs to happen, what they need to do to achieve that goal, and gets to it with enthusiasm. One way to make sure everything’s on-track and working smoothly: periodic check-ins. If you’ve been following our tips so far, your consultant should also be a great communicator, so this shouldn’t be a problem.
Time Management is a Must
In any escape room, the clock is always ticking. You usually have about an hour from the moment the door is closed to make your escape, and there’s every chance that your team may fail. (In 2015, for example, only about 4 in every 10 teams succeeded.) And the same holds true of technology projects. A significant percentage (roughly 41%) of software projects fail, and time management is a big factor in those failures due to decision latency: the time between realizing that a decision needs to be made and when that decision is actually made.
When you bring someone on as an ERP consultant, know that the clock is ticking for your project. Whether that’s because you have a go-live date you just can’t miss or every day that goes by without an upgrade to your ERP is costing your company money, your next ERP consultant needs to have a strong sense of time management and the ability to make quick decisions to help you beat the clock.
Escape ERP Failure With the Right Consultant
While participating in an escape room can be a bit more fun than a big ERP project, both require having the right people on your team. As someone who enjoys escape rooms and writes about ERP consulting, let me assure you that the qualities of a good ERP consultant and an escape room buddy really do sync up. So long as you have a team player on your side with a strong sense of time management, lateral thinking skills, and the ability to focus and communicate clearly, you’re going to succeed.