Business Case: – The Idle ERP Functional Consultant

Sitting idle at a client’s facility can be one of the worst things to happen to a person who takes pride in keeping himself busy in some or the other kind of productive work. And if the person in question is a functional consultant for an ERP software, the usage and specifications of which are totally dependent on the client’s requirements, then this becomes somewhat more intriguing.

What can lead to a situation where a Functional Consultant for an ERP is sitting idle at the client’s location?
There can be many situations where the consultant will be forced to sit idle although working at the client’s location. Some of the most probable situations can be: –

1. The Implementation of the software has yet not begun and the consultant has completed all the prerequisites (studies of the business process and requirements of the client and making of the required documents)
2. The implementation of the software has been done successfully and the project is in the stage of post implementation support and the software is so smooth to work on that there are no issues that the consultant needs to take care of.
3. The consultant has been shifted to a different project where the client provides all the infrastructure like a PC or laptop where the consultant needs to work, and nothing of that sort has been made available to him.

In this case study, we are going to deal in a situation where the third condition applies. So, the consultant has been shifted from a project where he was rendering functional support services for quite some time. He is abruptly shifted to another project where he is supposed to take care of multiple business processes, some of which he had not at all handled in the previous project. Although the functional know-how of the consultant is good enough (you can say expert), the know-how of the usage of the ERP for conducting those business processes was not so strong.

Incomplete knowledge transfer from preceding consultant

So, he was supposed to get knowledge transfer from the consultant whom our consultant was supposed to replace. But the consultant who was supposed to do the knowledge transfer had some different plans. He went on a considerably long leave before completing the knowledge transfer process. He only gave an overview of what the actual flow of activities was in all the business processes the consultant was supposed to look after. But how to do those activities to fulfill the requirements of the business processes in the ERP was not dealt by him.

Apart from the how-tos, he was also supposed to let the new consultant know the best ways to tackle the issues that occurred more frequently. Although all the issues reported and solved till date were recorded in a issue tracker file, the explanation of the issues and their solutions was not self sufficient for a new consultant to fully understand the issues and refer them for solutions to any issues that he may face in the future.

So, what does our consultant do? Sit idle of course !!

Our consultant sits there on the seat allotted to him, without access to a desktop or notebook, without the complete knowledge of the ERP software for the functional areas he is supposed to cater to and without access to all the processes in the ERP that would be required for him to find out solutions to the issues he would be faced with. He sits there, checking his Gmail on the GPRS internet speeds on his 3G enabled mobile phone, responding to comments of his friends and acquaintances on his social media profiles like facebook, twitter and Google+.

So, here are a few questions pertaining to the above case study.

  1. Is the consultant correct in sitting idle in front of all the users whose problems he is supposed to be solving?
  2. How best can the consultant utilize his time at the client’s place till he is given a computer system to work on
  3. What does this case study tell about the client’s management and their attitude towards the external consultant?

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