In Part 1 of this blog I defined the general differences between the Onsite Champion (OC) and the Super Hero Consultant (SHC) and then arrived at a conclusion: Access to both types of superhero is a good idea for any company with an ERP system. In this part, I’d like to hone in on the details and examine each of our caped ERP defenders for strengths and weaknesses.
Onsite Champions – the Upside
Previously, I compared the Onsite Champion to Batman – the quintessential home-turf problem solver. The OC can be an important addition to your ERP investment. As a member of your staff, he or she has a few ‘insider advantages’, such as specific business insight, relevant industry knowledge, and an intimate familiarity with your company’s culture, including personalities, relationships, stress points, goals, and the political landscape. The totality of the OC’s knowledge allows for an holistic approach to problem solving. Using a methodology built on trial and error, the OC can arrive at innovative solutions that come with built-in trust and stability.
Onsite Champions – the Downside
There are limitations, however to the powers of the Onsite Champion. To start with, you can’t expect too much – at least, not too soon. The learning curve for an effective OC is, in my experience, at least two years of full time hands on experience. Even after the OC is trained, their ERP knowledge may be largely theoretical, and they often lack in-house resources, such as hardware, software, and 3rd-party partners with complementary knowledge and skill sets. Working on their own, without access to the necessary tools and advice, OCs often revisit an issue multiple times before a solution is found. Even when the solution is found, it may require specific skills (such as software development) that need to be outsourced.
There’s another potential issue with Onsite Champions that we refer to as ‘application erosion’. Application erosion occurs when problems are ‘solved’ inexpertly, often through recourse to third party workarounds, typically in programs such as Excel. An OC who finds it more expedient to create a workaround is not doing your company a favor. Rather than being a ‘Seeker of Value’ he or she becomes a ‘Subtractor of Value’. Over time, as these workarounds become standard practice, your company will understand and use less of your ERP.
Super Hero Consultants – the Upside
The SHC is analogous to Superman. Let’s look at some of his strengths. To begin with, the SHC has a vast and varied knowledge of SYSPRO, and has experience in multiple industries and numerous businesses. He’s familiar with your hardware, your software, and your third party applications. He has both theoretical knowledge and practical application skills.
Having a problem with reports or journal updates? Unable to post materials to a job? Your SHC will have seen it before at other sites, and will probably know multiple solutions. Because of his experience, an SHC is confident in providing positive recurring results, and there’s rarely a need for trial-and-error testing. Even when the SHC is momentarily baffled (which even happens to Superman now and then), he has recourse to the breadth and depth of the SYSPRO community, including access to innovation teams and software developers.
As for application erosion – that’s unlikely to be an issue when you hire an SHC. SYSPRO Support personnel are in the business of finding innovative solutions by leveraging SYSPRO’s full functionality. Getting more bang for your buck is what this Superman is all about.
Super Hero Consultants – the Downside
But there are pitfalls – even the occasional chunk of kryptonite. When the SHC walks in your door, he or she may be starting the job with limited understanding of your industry and business processes. His focus is on making your end-to-end business as streamlined as possible within standard practices – perhaps at the cost of past history and relationships. Your staff may view him, and his solutions, with suspicion, since he’s only in the office for a limited time, and only when problems arise. As many an SHC discovers, cultural knowledge can be extremely valuable when attempting to drive a project to a successful conclusion. And finally, having your problem solved by a goal-oriented SHC might just come with a price. The SHC’s solution may be innovative, but non-holistic and insensitive to local conditions, which can lead to problems with future stability.
In my next blog I’ll conclude this discussion of OCs and SHCs by offering some practical analogies to help guide you in your support decisions.