An ERP system provides an integrated platform for myriad business functions to work seamlessly and ensure a smooth business process. An ERP system is generally adapted to the client's business processes and is hence industry specific. More and more businesses are becoming aware of the need to organize and structure their business processes and hence stay abreast of their competition. This consequently has increased multi fold the need for competent ERP consultants in order to run the show. The role of an ERP consultant is evident when one understands the complexity of the business processes addressed by an ERP package and the proficiency required in order to manage the day to day functions of an ERP system.
Thus in order to conceptualize, design, implement and maintain an enterprise resource planning system, there is a need for competent functional as well as technical consultants.
The functional and technical require different sets of competencies and expertise and have their respective well defined roles in the projects.
The role of a functional consultant begins before start of the implementation phase, in order to decide the scope of business functions that the ERP package will implement. He is required to highlight upfront the complications that could occur during implementation. A functional consultant by virtue of his industry experience also plays an imminent role in suggesting improvements that can be made to the current business processes of the client.
A technical consultant on the other hand is proficient in the technical implementation details of the product. They have an accurate understanding of how the system behaves in all scenarios not as a concept but as the exact technical behavior.
Thus the mapping of the business requirements to the ERP package technical requirements to form the requirements matrix is presided over by the functional consultant, while the technical consultant handles the actual mapping matrix.
A technical consultant drives the designing of the to-be system. With his thorough knowledge of technical architectures and clear understanding of the industry standards a technical consultant is fully equipped to propose the architecture of all the modules of the ERP; however he has to work closely with the functional consultant in order to realize the functional scope of each of the components. Thus a functional consultant too plays a part in the designing and documenting the ERP architecture and is instrumental in making the technical ERP expertise stay aligned with the exact functionality as required by the client.
Beyond this point is essentially the technical consultant's forte. He carries out the actual coding, unit testing, regression testing, UAT testing, patch testing of the system. The technical consultant provides issue resolution support during the testing phase. He makes sure the deployment and workflow is aligned with the industry process' standards. The functional consultant provides support to the technical team whenever necessary. Functional consultants are typically also involved in the validation testing of the system.
Finally, after the system goes alive at the client site, the functional consultant, by virtue of his industry experience and package expertise is required to step in and set the expectations of the users at various levels, keeping in mind the various business objectives of the client.
Thus the technical consultant is accountable for the timely delivery of the customized package. The functional consultant makes sure the system delivered is as desired by the client.