Too Many Consultants So Little Time
Many SMB’s find themselves in a situation where over the years they have grown and picked up different pieces of technology. Along with these new pieces of technology come new consultants. One day, you may turn around and realize you have an IT firm, ERP or CRM consultant, a VOIP phone company, etc. That is a lot of people to keep track of and can become very confusing and costly in a situation where all of them need to work together.
For instance, let’s say you have an issue running financial statements in Dynamics GP. Your first call would naturally be to your Dynamics consultant. Well, after some troubleshooting they deem the issue to be that you are having a server issue. The next call would then be to your IT company. They look in to it and are not sure what the issue is because they do not know the optimal server specs for a Dynamics GP environment. Then you get the Dynamics consultant back on the phone so the two can hash it out. After some back and forth they find that the issue is you need to increase the RAM on your SQL server. They handle this and some time later you can finally run your financial statements. Life is great because everyone worked together, and your problem is solved.
The problem really comes later… when you receive two bills from two companies to fix one issue. This is a major problem for a business of any size. Not only have you paid two companies to do the same thing, but you have wasted time and resources explaining the issue to both of them and coordinating between them. At the end of the day, time wasted is money lost.
The One Throat to Choke Principal
I first heard the phrase “one throat to choke” from a colleague of mine a few years ago. It instantly resonated with me. Have you ever been in a bad customer service situation? You call because you have a problem and you are passed from person to person with no resolution. At the end of the day you just want one person to resolve your issue! While I don’t like to think that any of my clients want to choke me or any colleagues, I completely understand wanting to have one person to yell at sometimes!
If your cloud eCommerce system isn’t properly syncing to your on-premise ERP system you have four possible scenarios.
- There is a problem with the eCommerce system.
- There is a problem with the ERP system.
- There is a problem with the on-premise server.
- There is a problem with the ETL tool integrating the eCommerce and ERP systems.
Where do you begin? Who do you call first? In an ideal world, you want a consultant that can take a dive in to each of those scenarios and deduce the problem. Calling three consultants to solve one issue is a huge waste of time! Not to mention, getting three bills for one problem is never fun. Wasting a few hours in a small business greatly affects your bottom-line and could set an employee back an entire day in work.
A New Kind of Consultant
Dynamics consultants have often been viewed as a one trick pony. They are good at one very specific niche of Microsoft technology. While this may be the case for some Dynamics consultants, I am proud to say it is not for KTL.
In today’s technology landscape everything is connected. As a Dynamics consultant, we absolutely must understand and be able to support SQL Server, Azure, on-premise servers, Office 365, etc. An issue with one can cause an issue with everything else, so Dynamics consultants have to be well versed in the entire Microsoft Stack.
You may be thinking that sounds like the ideal consultant… but how do I find them? There are several factors to consider when you are evaluating Dynamics consultants:
- What is the level of expertise of the consultants in the firm?
The ideal Dynamics consultant has the perfect mix of IT and Accounting skills. They are business minded but understand the technology behind the accounting processes.
- What is their experience in your industry?
A well-rounded consulting firm can assist all industries, however if you are working with complex industry specific processes it is good to find someone that is well versed in your industry. For instance, a not for profit and plastics manufacturer have the same basic accounting processes, however their reporting and the way data gets in to their systems are completely differently.
- What is their support model?
Most dynamics consultants operate on a pay by the hour support model. This can work well for the one of support incidents you may have, but it does not promote an environment in which you can call and discuss business objectives with your consultant. It is extremely important to have your Dynamics consultant ingrained in your business. This way they can understand your processes, pain point, goals, and business needed and suggest technology to further your business. A lot of times the solution you need to alleviate a business problem is something you already own. If a consultant is ingrained in your business and environment, they will know what technology you have in place how you can better utilize it.
Some Dynamics consultants, like KTL Solutions, have developed more holistic support model where a monthly per user fee covers all support and consultant interactions. This leaves the client free to bring the consultant in to talk about important business decisions and processes and not feel like they are constantly on the clock. Also, including server support and maintenance in your monthly support contract is of huge value to the end client. If the server is monitored and supported, your technology environment can thrive and function in the optimal way it was designed. While it may not be something you initially factored in to your consultant’s budget, it will save you huge in the long run.
If you are still operating on the old hourly consultant model and have more than 4 consultants to support your technology environment, its time to get away from your Grandfather’s Dynamics consultant and move to a new kind of consultant.