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Over the past month I have been engaged in a large home renovation project which I outlined in the article What Successful Home Projects and SAP Rollouts Have in Common. It has really struck home how important it is to trust the people that you are working with especially if you don’t have that expertise yourself. It’s very common on most SAP projects for customers to use SAP consulting resources to assist them with their implementation or scope of work and I think trust is an underrated dynamic that plays a big part in the overall success. Trust needs to be earned over time and here are some signs that should give you some second thoughts if you see them happening with any of your consulting resources.


  • Provides Incorrect Information/answersOne of the reasons that you hired a consultant was to take advantage of their experience/expertise. Any good SAP consultant would rather say I don’t know and go research something and come back later with the right answer than to blurt out an answer they were unsure of.  On many occasions over the years I have heard consultants provide clients different answers to the same questions on different days and a repeating pattern of this should be a major sign of concern. Imagine if my home contractor told me he could build a certain design and when I saw him doing something different he told me either “he didn’t say that” or “It isn’t possible and we “talked” about it.”
  • SAP Community Forums – The SAP community forums can be a great tool and being a moderator I highly encourage the interaction but often see things that are very troubling. They include consultants asking for a “full blueprint”, configuration documents, “help resolve urgent client issues” or extremely basic questions that show they have no expertise in the area they are “consulting”. It is important to note that in many of these cases SAP customers have brought in outside expertise and very few would be happy if they knew there were in fact counting on strangers in forums who are getting paid “points” for their answers.  Imagine if after I brought in the contractor I noticed in a home improvement forum they were asking “how to build a outdoor patio”, “how much wood do I need”, “what type of wood should I use”  and “can you provide me a specific architectural plan


  • Prior Project Failures – There have been several high profile SAP failures over the past decade and it is important that customers do an in-depth review if a new proposed consultant worked on one of them as you want to have a clear understanding that they weren’t part of the problem.  Keep in mind on almost everyone of these failures great consulting resources came in to clean up the mess which again highlights the need for clients to understand when the consultant was engaged as the timing is extremely important. Imagine if I found out after the fact that my contractor was being sued by five people for failure to build what I had just contracted them to do. Sadly SAP does not have a Better Business Bureau type repository to check consultants.


  • Under Delivers – One of the basic things I have seen in stronger consultants do is to under promise and over deliver. This includes an expectation of providing their customer ample notice if any tasks are failing behind schedule as well as a detailed explanation why.  If on a regular basis you are being surprised at the last minute that key tasks, planned well in advance are behind schedule without a strong explanation you have a valid reason to start losing trust. You are paying a consultant for their experience, expertise as well the ability to be pro-active and inform you when things are not going according to plan.  Imagine if my contractor told me they were going to take ten days to complete the job and half way through the 9th day they informed me that they were going to take another ten days to finish with additional cost to me.

http://perkettprsuasion.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/trust.jpg

The bottom line is that if you have engaged outside consulting resources you are paying a lot of money and their performance will play a role in the success of your project. The ideal scenario is to ensure you are diligent in the hiring consultants from the beginning which I wrote about in Seven Tips to ensure you hire the Right Consultant but once they are on board their performance should be monitored. You shouldn’t be afraid of getting rid of consultant that isn’t working out as if they can’t earn your trust it might be smart to find someone who will.

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14 Comments

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  1. Anindya Bose

    Very nicely written article.. Author might have gone through some painful experiences !

    Certainly this article would help some of us to correct ourselves in the right direction.

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    1. MANGESH PANDE

      This is common in any projects. People join in SAP Consulting line, But they dont have consulting capabilities nor a proper Business or Domain knowledge.

      Often and always such resources are deployed to cut down the cost.

      Customers are also equally responsible as they want implementation cost so less that all implementation partners are forced to reduce cost by deploying such resources.

      Another reason that we have good amount of budding small implementation companies who hire any person from industry, train them in configurations and push them on project. They do not care how he performs.

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      1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

        Thanks for the comment Mangesh and although it is common that does not make it right and my goal of the blog was to raise awareness for SAP customers.

        The interesting point about cost as all to often these poor “consultants” are sold as mid level or senior consultant so the customers are not saving on their implementation and it is important that they spend the time to ensure the consultant is going to be a right fix before they are hired. I provided some tips in an earlier article and curious to get your thoughts.

        Seven Tips to ensure you hire the Right Consultant

        On your last point I have seen this issue on a lot more regular basis with large consulting companies than small ones at least in North America.

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        1. MANGESH PANDE

          Dear Jason ,

          Thanks for sharing this Information. And also Thanks for the Information on the Blog “Seven Tips”.

          Let me Give and example. One of my friends from Reputed company took interview of a consultant. My friend is very qualified, experienced person working on good position. He rejected the consulatnt for  Junior Profile for whcih he was interviwed.

          But some days later he came to know that the Candidate was taken on Manager level position in same company at another location.

          So even we follow tips how can these loophole be closed?

          With Warm Regards

          Mangesh Pande

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          1. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

            I think that ultimately SAP customers can help close that loop by diligent hiring practices on the front end. I think there are roles for Junior consultants on most large projects as long as they are presented in such a way at a low rate structure and given roles where they can succeed. It can be a win/win.

            When I see “consultants” on the SCN forums asking for a blueprint or presentation or config docs for their client deliverable’s it tells me they have been put into a role where it is assumed they have a lot more expertise than they do.  Heard recently that the failure rate in IT projects is 60-70% and although there are many factors poor consulting plays a role.

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    2. Jarret Pazahanick Post author

      Thanks Anindya for the comment and hopefully this article will help customers to ensure they get a good consultant as it can be an important part to ensure a successful SAP project.

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  2. Andre Njotohusodo

    Very true in ideal world, but I’ve seen few implementations handled by under-knowledge consultants due to low budget and as expected the result is minimal, even some are disaster. Slow but sure an experienced consultant will be beat by low cost adn low knwoledge consultant. Sad but true!

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    1. Kevin Wilson

      This is unfortunate but it is coming true. The disparity between a cheep consultant and a valuable consultant is quite large. What most companies embarking on an implementation don’t understand is the cost of failure, the cost of having to do it again, the cost of having to work with a bad system for the next 10-20 years… You spend millions of $$$ on the SAP licensing on support yet you want to use a $45/hr resource to put it in… Makes no sense but that is the way it’s going. Projects are judged based on their short term goals / budgets not their long term achievement of stated business benefits. i.e. Can a cheep resource get the order to post when they receive an 850 purchase order? Sure, they could use a bad sales area, write custom code to create the order, not handle errors, …. it works and the budget is met. 2 Years down the road the company merges with another and they have to redo the whole interface and the org structure…. This wasn’t taken in to account for the original project budget but it’s a cost of using someone less than knowledgeable to perform the task. It’s always cheaper to do it right the first time than to fix it or redo it a second time…

      Good article Jarrett

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  3. Srikanth Naidu Akula

    Hi Jarret, (J. Pazahanick)

    Another great blog. Below are my understanding & analysis in India on small scale enterprise level.

    Consulting firms:

    I see such situations when pre-sales activities are done and a customer requests for effort estimation for his requirements from a consulting firm those requirements are routed to such consultants who don’t even know the functionality of the requirement at all and they confidently propose the time lines to finish the jobs and sending them to seniors. And the so-called project managers (Whose job is forwarding mails) blindly routing the same to customers.


    Customers:

    Pity customer who have zero knowledge on SAP implementations are glad to see the lower quotations for the project who feel it as cost effective (bottom line = cheep) and a timely solution for their superb requirements and offering the contracts without knowing the fact that they will never see the best practices.

    Consultants:

    Now this is Consultant turn how best he/she could find the documents, configuration guides, materials, stuff, etc without knowing the basics and they will start hunting in forms like SCN, directly posting a thread that I need configuration document, Blueprint, etc without even know how to find the available documents.

    Hats-off for such Consulting Firms, Consultants, Customers.

    May God be with you for the sake of SAP future….. 😆

    Srikanth Naidu

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  4. Rajesh Kumar Burra

    True! I agree..

    Client expect everything from consultant in short span of time . An experienced consultant would rather say that it will  take time to complete the project An experienced consultant knows loopholes and duration of time to complete project.

    In SAP, Manager plays an important role . Many companies have Manager without SAP Background that would definitely lead to a problem. The company should recruit a manager who has complete knowledge of SAP from each module that would definitely yield results

    An inexperienced Manager force consultants to complete a project in less time that will end up with nothing.

    The failure of project will be mainly because of false promise to client from sales team or a manager, without interacting with consultant.  A good consultant knows , when and how to deliver a project.

    A good SAP Consultant can be a Good Sales Guy

    A good Consultant can be a Good Business Analyst.

    A good consultant can also be a Good Manager in each Module of SAP.

    Still I wonder There will be openings for consultant but I haven’t seen an opening for SAP FICO Manager, SAP HCM Manager, SAP SD Manager etc. The question is  Why?? 😕

    A Senior Manager requires in depth knowledge of each module  that would definetly lead to sucess. ➕

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  5. Ravi Sankar Venna

    Nice blog Jarret. You hit on the nail so correctly.

    There are many consultants misguide the client without knowing the root cause of the problem, then Client spending another million £$ to resolve that.

    BTW, you have a nice fate line, if it is your hand 😉

    I too have habit of writing on my hands. 😆

    Best Regards,

    Ravi

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