Tips for Consultants Going Down-Market: Details vs. Focus


One thing that we are seeing a lot here in Canada is ERP consultants moving down-market and participating in smaller deals.

We think that it is great that smaller companies are getting expert advice on projects as important as ERP selection, but you can’t just take the process that works for big companies and drop it on small ones without substantial modification.

We are seeing the same mistakes being made by experienced consultants in smaller deals and the mistakes all come down to one problem – providing a balance between focus and details.

When working with big companies, you are most likely able to work with two or three people in the company dedicated full-time to the ERP project, and spend significant time with other stakeholders to capture every little detail in the requirements, because it’s still a tiny fraction of their workforce.

Try doing the same thing at a smaller company with a workforce of 20 and there will be a measurable negative impact on productivity. The details that were so critical to the big ERP project are of questionable value to a small one.

Take the business owner’s perspective for a moment. Imagine you’ve just been handed 1500 questions to fill out. You don’t have time to do this at work, so you’re doing it in the evening rather than spending time with your family. Every single one of those questions is going to come under heavy scrutiny, so they had better be important.

Details can be important. But you have to focus the right ones.

Smaller clients simply can’t afford the time to provide the level of detail that you would expect from a larger project.

The same is also true of the vendors and resellers. I know of at least one deal that one of our partners did in the last year where a consultant had sent out a long RFP (Request for Proposal) to a dozen different companies. The reseller simply said “no, it’s not worth our time. We can do everything in that document, but the process is too cumbersome to be worth the effort.” The end result? The consultant got fired and the company is now happy using SYSPRO.

As a consultant working in smaller ERP projects, your job is to make sure that clients are focused first on the big issues and then on the details that really matter to those issues.

Focus trumps detail at the bottom end of the ERP market. Learn it. Practice it. And you will be ahead of the majority of consultants going down-market.

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